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Guard dedicates memorial to fallen heroes

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by Akina Chargualaf, for KUAM News

Guam - The Guam National Guard celebrated their 29th anniversary this morning by unveiling the memorial of Guam's fallen soldiers. It's was an emotional event for families who lost their loved ones during the war.  "Any ceremony of this type is very important, it brings a monument that ensures that the sacrifices that our fallen soldiers have done, the ultimate sacrifice will never be forgotten," said Lieutenant Governor Mike Cruz.  "That freedom is not free and that it's not cheap and there's a heavy unfortunate price to pay for it. And on the behalf of the government of Guam, the people of Guam we want to thank our fallen soldiers, the family members for the freedom that we have today. 

He served recently in Afghanistan stood alongside with his fellow soldiers dressed in uniform, adding, "The proper tribute to them would be to stand with them as a fellow solider, a fellow Guardsman, and a fellow son of Guam."

The memorial took a year to plan and fund for as Major General Donald Goldhorn, emphasized the importance of remembering those who have served and continue to serve our country. The bronze memorial details a battle cross with a helmet, rifle and boots.  "We always hear the statement ‘We Shall Never Forget', but I think often times we do and what I want to ensure is that of our soldiers and airmen is that those who paid the ultimate sacrifice, there is a memorial here that we walk by everyday we are required to salute by a policy I just put into effect today to help us memorialize the tremendous sacrifice not only by the servicemen but the families, as well," he said.

The memorial was a special event for Emily Leon Guerrero, wife of Sergeant Brian Steven Leon Guerrero, who passed away on duty in Afghanistan in 2008.  "This holds a very close meaning in my heart. Today marks his second anniversary, as well as [Samson Mora]. They did what they loved and they fought to the last day and they will never be forgotten of course. They did fought for freedom and that freedom is not free," she said.

She wanted to thank the National Guard and the soldiers who put the memorial together, but she wanted to give a special thanks to Sergeant Kelani Echang for making a special trip back home. She said, "The moment was bittersweet and emotional for the both of us". The memorial honors four soldiers who died in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. The Guard remembers sergeants Greg Fejeran, Christopher Fernandez, Leon Guerrero and Mora.

The Guard also celebrated its anniversary with an open house, which allowed residents to learn more about the Guard.

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