By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (AW) Joshua Scott, Joint Special Operations Task Force - Philippines Public Affairs
U.S. and Philippine servicemembers honored their fallen comrades-in-arms today during a memorial service held at the base chapel at Western Mindanao Command.
Since the beginning of Operation Enduring Freedom – Philippines (OEF-P), 566 servicemembers of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and 17 servicemembers assigned to Joint Special Operations Task Force – Philippines (JSOTF-P) have given their lives in the fight against terrorism.
“This morning we honor the great men who made the ultimate sacrifice in the fight against terrorism,” said Lt. Gen. Benjamin Dolorfino, Commander, Western Mindanao Command. “These men died protecting, not only the interests of our respective countries, but the interests of all peace-loving people in the world. They died defending our way of life … families, morality, values, ideas, but most importantly, freedom from living in terror.”
The memorial concluded with a 21-gun salute, performed by a combined AFP and U.S. honor guard, as well as the presentation of the American and Philippine flags.
“We will never forget, and we will never let them down. I salute the fallen. I salute those of you who gathered here today, I salute the American and Filipino families who just as bravely, offered their sacrifices for freedom. You are all heroes to me,” said Capt. Robert V. Gusentine, reading a remark by Harry K. Thomas Jr., Ambassador to the Philippines.
“Our fallen comrades may be gone, but I am sure their legacy lives on, and they will never be forgotten,” said Dolorfino. “Their names will be forever etched in the history of this command. They are our heroes; they did not die in vain.”