Sgt. Sean M. Collins of Yelm “raised the morale” of his fellow soldiers and “always picked up on the small details that the rest of the platoon missed,” two of his officers said at a ceremony in Afghanistan honoring him and other fallen soldiers five days after their Dec. 12 deaths in a suicide attack on a small outpost in Kandahar Province.
Five others in his company died with him. Collins, 25, is to be buried tomorrow at Tahoma National Cemetery in Kent.
Gen. David Petraeus, commander of joint forces in Afghanistan, attended the Dec. 17 ceremony where Collins’ company in the 101st Airborne Division shared memories about their comrades.
Megan McCloskey of Stars and Stripes gave this account of the ceremony:
“Members of 2nd Battalion, 502nd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division gathered under the yellow cast of a dimly lit chow hall tent to give a final salute to Company B’s fallen soldiers, who, as their commander said, ‘walked the path most men couldn’t or wouldn’t dare.’
“Lined up in a row at the front were six helmets and six pairs of boots.
- One for Sgt. Sean Collins.
- And one for Sgt. Willie McLawhorn.
- And Cpl. Patrick Deans.
- And Cpl. Kenneth Necochea.
- And Cpl. Derek Simonetta.
- And Cpl. Jorge Villacis.
“Over and over throughout the ceremony, those names were solemnly called aloud — each time a reminder of the crushing weight of losing so many lives in one morning.
“Dec. 12, 2010, ‘will be a day no soldier in Bravo Company will ever forget,’ said Capt. David Yu, the company’s commander.”