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Fort Drum remembers three fallen soldiers at ceremony

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FORT DRUM — As the post remembered three 3rd Brigade Combat Team soldiers recently killed while deployed in Afghanistan, their comrades recounted their service and friendship.

Spc. Kerry M.G. Danyluk, an infantryman with the 2nd Battalion, 87th Infantry Regiment, died on April 15 in Germany following an attack on his unit days earlier in Pul-e-Alam, Logar province. Sgt. Shawn M. Farrell II and Pfc. Christian J. Chandler died on April 29 following incidents at Nejrab District, Kapisa province, and Baraki Barak District, Logar province, respectively.

Spc. Michael J. Reinert said Spc. Danyluk was a knowledgable leader and an accurate shooter, the kind of person who could take the lead “when things get messy.”

“You wouldn’t think twice about following that mind anywhere,” Spc. Reinert said.

Sgt. 1st Class Michael I. Mazingo said he was proud to be Sgt. Farrell’s leader, as he lived every day to its fullest. “He always found the silver lining in every situation,” Sgt. Mazingo said.

He said he was looking forward to talking about skilled soldiers like Sgt. Farrell under his command, saying it was like being “Batman’s platoon sergeant.”

Spc. Chandler, called Jake by his family and friends, was described as an enthusiastic personality during the rigors of training and overseas service.

“I don’t recall a moment I didn’t see a smile on his face, or a moment where his humor faltered,” said Staff Sgt. Stephen Kovac.

Col. Michael T. Oeschger, the brigade’s rear commander, told attendees that he could not answer the “unanswerable” question of why the soldiers died, only that he knew they died nobly, serving their country and fellow soldiers.

“It is a life that they chose; what an incredibly noble and honorable calling,” he said. He told the families that the memory of their soldiers would be carried into the future.

Family members of the three soldiers were unavailable for comment following the ceremony, which was held at the installation’s Memorial Park.

The families were presented with stained-glass pieces featuring a Gold Star, a symbol of death in combat. The pieces have been made by artist Valerie J. Parsons, Auburn, for families of fallen soldiers since 2007. More information about the pieces can be found at http://wdt.me/8NnX7k.

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