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Moving tribute; Statue honoring 3 solders unveiled

A new battle cross statue honoring three area military members who died serving in combat was unveiled Friday in front of the Jamestown Civic Center. The event was part of the North Dakota Patriot Guard Fallen Heroes Memorial and Honor Ride this ...

Fallen Heroes
Richard “R.D.” Brown, the father of the late Spc. Philip Brown, 21, who was killed in action in Iraq in 2004, lays a temporary plaque at the base of the Fallen Heroes Memorial on Friday at the Jamestown Civic Center. Philip’s mother, Deidra, is at left. In back, North Dakota Army National Guard Staff Sgt. Dustin Kirschmann, left, and Sgt. Phil Kurtz, right, unveiled the statue; the two soldiers served with Philip Brown. Tom LaVenture/The Sun

A new battle cross statue honoring three area military members who died serving in combat was unveiled Friday in front of the Jamestown Civic Center. The event was part of the North Dakota Patriot Guard Fallen Heroes Memorial and Honor Ride this weekend.
Families of the three soldiers were present to place temporary plaques at the base of the statue. Permanent markers will be here from the foundry on Tuesday.
U.S. Army Spc. Paul Beyer, North Dakota Army National Guard Spc. Philip Brown and Army Reserve Maj. Alan Johnson were remembered with the Fallen Heroes Memorial. The soldier’s memorial depicts the rifle, boots and helmet, which is recognized as the battlefield burial, and was sponsored by the North Dakota Patriot Guard, with a fundraising effort from the North Dakota Heroes Foundation.
U.S. Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., said he was grateful to be invited to attend and spoke about the three soldiers, some of whom he knew.
“We are still a community, and we still take care of each other,” he said. “We still think of each other as a family.”
Two full-time National Guardsmen who served with Brown said the memorial was a good thing.
“I think it’s a good way to remember all three of them and it’s a good place for it,” said Sgt. Phil Kurtz.
Families of the soldiers said the pain does not go away but that this outpouring of concern from the community makes a difference.
Deidra Brown found it difficult to speak. She was happy that her son, Philip, was being remembered by the community, but she had mixed feelings about the event itself.
“You’d think this would be easy, but it’s not,” Deidra said.
Richard “R.D.” Brown, Philip’s father, said it does make it easier when the community, the Army and the Patriot Guard come together like this to make sure their son would be remembered in such a positive way.
“These are good people,” Brown said. “It all helps.”
Susan Roemmich, Alan Johnson’s sister, said the event and the memorial were very meaningful. She was present with her brother, Brian, and a half-brother, Jeremy.
“This means a lot because we lost both of our parents this past year,” Susan said.
Calli Stodt, the widow of Paul Beyer, was present with family and friends. She said this was a very emotional day. Even though she lost her husband years ago she was moved to see that the community still cares.
Prior to the unveiling, U.S. Navy Reserve Capt. Duane Sand, founder and manager of North Dakota Heroes Foundation that organized the fundraising effort, said that more of these memorials need to go up around the state. At the same time, he said that no one wants to lose anyone else while he or she is serving his or her country.
Jamestown Mayor Katie Andersen said there was a transformation that occurred with this project. It began as a logistical issue to ensure it was properly placed where it would be seen and not be vandalized. It ended with a realization that it was appropriate to have these soldiers remembered in a place where so many people will see it every day.
“Our Jamestown community lost three of its citizens and we lost them because they were protecting all of our freedoms,” Andersen said. “When I looked at the location in that context I realized that this was the perfect location for this memorial.”
Patriot Guard State Cpt. Jim Avard said they are just doing their job to make sure that soldiers lost in combat are remembered
“It’s the right thing to do in memory of your sons,” Avard said. “It the right thing to do throughout these United States, and it’s the right thing to do to survive the future.”
After the speeches and unveiling, friends and family were invited to share stories about their relationships with the three heroes.
Army Spc. Paul A. Beyer, 21, was killed in action during Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2006. He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 502nd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), Fort Campbell, KY.
Spc. Philip Dorman Brown, 21, was killed in action during Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2004. He was a specialist with the North Dakota National Guard’s 141st Engineer Combat Battalion.
Born in Jamestown, Brown was a fourth-generation soldier and a student at Jamestown College.
Maj. Alan Johnson, 44, was killed in action during Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2006. He started his 23-year career with the Army National Guard in Jamestown, and was deployed to Iraq in 2006 with the 402nd CA Battalion in support of the global war on terrorism at the time of his death.
Sun reporter Tom LaVenture can be reached at 701-952-8455 or by email at tlaventure@ jamestownsun.com

Sen. John Hoeven
Tom LaVenture / The Sun U.S. Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., addresses guests including Gold Star families in the front two rows, of three soliders killed in Iraq, prior to unveiling the Fallen Heroes Memorial Friday at the Jamestown Civic Center.

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