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New statue honors 3rd Brigade Combat Team soldiers killed in action

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FORT DRUM — A new statue dedicated to the memory of 3rd Brigade Combat Team members killed in action during fighting of the past decade brought out several family members along with hundreds of soldiers to the post’s Memorial Park.

The 500-pound bronze Spartan figure, representative of the brigade’s nickname, stands on a 6-foot-tall base inscribed with the names of soldiers killed while serving.

As the wind whistled through the trees by the statue, the only sound was the tolls of a bell as the names of the dead soldiers were read. The bell was struck 109 times, once for each soldier killed during the brigade’s four deployments since August 2003. That number included 38 soldiers killed during the brigade’s most recent deployment to Afghanistan, which ended in March.

“They were our brothers,” said Col. Patrick D. Frank, the brigade’s commander.

Maj. Gen. Mark A. Milley, the post and 10th Mountain Division commander, said the statue would serve as a place for soldiers and their families to return even after their service was over.

“This helps keep their memory alive,” Gen. Milley said.

Jeffrey W. Long, president of the Spartan Association, which financed the statue, said it had been in the works since 2005. In addition to funding from the association, soldiers and their families contributed more than $5,500 to support the memorial.

“It’s been a lot of hard work,” Mr. Long said. “This is bittersweet.”

Among the family members who made their way to post for the ceremony was Rachel M. Wyrick, wife of Staff Sgt. Nathan L. Wyrick, who was killed by an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan in October.

“It was nice to get a chance to talk with people who worked with him,” Mrs. Wyrick said.

Mrs. Wyrick sported several tattoos, including the outline of her husband’s dog tags on her chest and “Nathan” written on her wrist above an infinity symbol. She said she wanted to return to post in the future to see the memorial statue.

“I want to come back here,” she said.

Several injured soldiers also took part in the ceremony.

Sgt. LisaMarie L. Wiley, who served in a support role with the brigade, has been recovering for the past several months at the Center for the Intrepid, San Antonio, Texas, after stepping on an IED in Afghanistan in November, which led to amputation of her left leg.

Though she had been back a few weeks earlier to complete some processing on post, she said Wednesday’s ceremony was one of the few chances to see the soldiers with whom she served in Afghanistan.

“This will be one of the last times I’ll see my boys,” she said.

Sgt. Wiley wore a specially fitted pair of Adidas sneakers during the ceremony, and said that back at the hospital she had been fitted for a special pair of stiletto heels, and was in the process of receiving a special pair of inline skates.

She said that she planned to return to Army service when cleared by doctors, and that she had been told she could be running again in two years.

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