Commentary: We must remember Iraq war soldiers

The Columbus (Ga.) Ledger-EnquirerMarch 18, 2013 

Today's front page contains the faces of Columbus-area soldiers who gave their lives in Iraq. Many of these are official Army photos, with the green-clad soldier standing at attention in front of the American flag.

But some of these photos were contributed by family or friends and were not formal head-and-shoulders shots. We cropped the faces for our cover.

It's worth looking at the originals. In my opinion, the most powerful photos of 3rd Brigade soldiers killed can be found at Fort Stewart's "Warrior Walk" gallery at

Wyatt Eisenhauer is playing his guitar.

Dylan Paytas is hugging his father.

Colby Farnan is wearing desert camouflage and reading a copy of "Frankenstein."

Jacob Palmatier is wearing a Superman sweatshirt and playing with his dog.

Matthew Bohling is sporting his class A's and standing in front of a mantel decorated for Christmas.

Darren Howe is drinking a Pepsi.

Michael Robertson is posing with his wife.

Jonathan Edds is posing with his wife and two dogs.

David Salie is hugging his daughter.

Wesley Hinkley is admiring his newborn baby.

Allen Dunckley is locking his two toddlers in a bear hug.

Christopher Gonzalez is celebrating his son's graduation.

Daniel McCall is hoisting an Iraqi boy on his shoulders while other boys point and laugh.

Michael Cleary is holding up a largemouth bass.

Blake Stephens is hugging his wife and looking like the happiest guy on the planet.

Dwane Covert, shirtless and tattooed, is taking a nap on the floor with his infant son. As with anything on the Internet, you can get more information if you search for it.

Michael Cleary, the guy holding up the bass, was a lieutenant 10 days away from returning home to marry his childhood sweetheart when he was killed.

Blake Stephens, the happiest guy on the planet, was a buck sergeant married to Erin, and they never once had a fight.

That's what Erin told a reporter after she learned of Blake's death. "We're so young, we had our whole life ahead of us," she said. "We wanted a family together. Thinking about not having kids with him is what's killing me now."

And Dwane Covert, the shirtless guy napping with his son?

He was a private first class days away from flying home to witness the birth of his daughter. He and his wife had already named her Zoe.

Wanting to keep him safe, Dwane's sergeant pulled him off combat missions.

Dwane was picking up trash on his unit's compound and saw what looked like an old caulk gun on the ground.

He picked it up, it exploded, and he was killed.

These stories are heartbreaking for those of us who didn't know Dwane or Blake or Michael or any of these other soldiers.

Imagine the pain of their loved ones.

It hurts to remember, but remember we must.

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