Tree of Remembrance planted for fallen soldiers

By: Cleo Greene Email
By: Cleo Greene Email
soldier speaks at ceremony

A tree was planted on Fort Gordon in remembrance of fallen soldiers. (May 23, 2011 / WRDW-TV)

News 12 First at 5 / Monday, May 23, 2011

AUGUSTA, Ga.---A motorcycle accident on Sunday night, killed 34 year-old James Gray. He was an active duty soldier at Fort Gordon. Deputies say a suspected drunk driver slammed into him. He died on the scene.

The news is spreading on Fort Gordon. Fellow soldiers say even though Gray did not lose his life in the line of duty, he is still a hero. They spent the day planting a tree, to honor heroes just like him.

The Fort Gordon survivor outreach program had to contact yet another family of a fallen soldier, just hours before the tree of remembrance dedication ceremony.

"A soldier is a soldier and we have to pay due respect," said Colonel Glenn Kennedy, the Garrison Commander of Fort Gordon. He said he just got word that 34 year-old James Gray, an active duty soldier, died last night.

He held a straight face, gave a salute to our country and unveiled a remembrance tree that brought tears to many.

"We serve our country and sometimes we pay the ultimate price with our lives," said Renee Brent. She says her husband Sgt. Derrick Brent paid the ultimate price when he was injured in Afghanistan and died during surgery in 2007. "He had surgery in Germany, that is where we were stationed," she said. "I was there when he died."

Renee said she and other survivors were stationed across the world when their loved ones died. Now they all live in the CSRA. "As military families we often move all over and never return to our home state," she said. Some survivors like Renee got word at the ceremony about Gray's death.

"Not all soldiers die in combat, no matter how you put it," she said. "We have to honor all of them no matter what."

If you would like to visit the tree of remembrance, you can get a pass at gate one on Fort Gordon. It is called that the survivor decal an it only reserved for those who have lost a soldier.

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