A measure of soldiers’ devotion to a fallen comrade is that, long after the memorial ceremonies have ended, they don’t forget the sacrifice. In fact they look for permanent ways to preserve their comrade’s memory.
Take, for example, a company of soldiers from the 555th Engineer Brigade, well known around Fort Lewis as the Triple Nickel. The 571st Sapper Company had just moved to the Balad Ruz area of southern Diyala province in Iraq last month when word came down that one of the 14th Engineer Battalion’s noncommissioned officers had been killed in a vehicle explosion.
Staff Sgt. Sean Diamond, who died on Feb. 15, was the first Fort Lewis soldier killed in action since June. More than that, however, he was a fatherly leader with whom many engineers of the 571st had served on this 15-month deployment. The Sappers stick together as they do the dirty work of clearing and rebuilding Iraq’s road network.
Several soldiers suggested that this small, dusty patrol base be named in honor of Diamond. Spc. James Saunders volunteered to make a sign.
Senior leaders agreed. The company commander, Capt. Lou Nemec, wrote his thoughts down recently:
Southern Diyala province is a desolate, war-ravaged portion of Iraq. The opportunities for solace are infrequent. After six years of fighting, a joint security station still offers the kind of necessary respite soldiers require after long hours on the road. In a similar manner, SSG Diamond cared for soldiers, and offered the type of mentorship and care that kept his subordinates safe, motivated and focused on their mission. He will forever be missed by those privileged enough to serve beside him.
Remote patrol bases like this one may become more important as American troops start leaving Iraqi cities this summer under terms of a U.S.-Iraqi security agreement.
The Fort Lewis engineers left their base and relocated to another area on March 17, but not before they officially dedicated it as “Joint Security Station Diamond.”
Sean Diamond would have turned 42 years old the same day.