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Tears, Vows To Remember As Permanent Memorial Unveiled At JBLM

As a decade of war winds down, Joint Base Lewis-McChord is adding to a memorial park for the fallen.

Friday a military police brigade at the base near Tacoma dedicated a permanent remembrance to 29 soldiers killed in action.

Cold and fog lingered over the crowed as the black, granite memorial was unveiled. Engraved on it are the names of the 29 fallen members of the 42nd Military Police Brigade. They were killed in Iraq and Afghanistan between 2003 and 2011.

JBLM Commander Lt. General Robert Brown paid tribute.

“Frankly they’ve allowed the vast majority of our nation to live normal lives while they and their families live lives of service and sacrifice,” he said.

As the names were read one-by-one, Debbie Ward listened. In a crowd of black, she stood out in pink shirtsleeves with her son’s dog tags around her neck. When she heard her son’s name.

Her face crumpled, the tears flowed. Afterwards, Ward placed a flower on the memorial. Her son was killed in 2008 in Iraq. He had just turned 19.

“That was my only son, my baby," she said. "I don’t want him forgotten.”

Since January 2004, Austin Jenkins has been the Olympia-based political reporter for the Northwest News Network. In that position, Austin covers Northwest politics and public policy, as well as the Washington State Legislature. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) Emmy-nominated public affairs program "Inside Olympia."