County Commissioner and Veteran Area Leader Reflects on Memorial Day

Dan Williams


This year we will commemorate Memorial Day on Monday, May 29, by honoring those who died serving in the United States military. 


For many, Memorial Day weekend kicks off the start of the summer season and Teller County will welcome tourists and snowbird residents back who have returned for the summer. 


For the Veteran, the weekend and the day is one of quiet contemplation and remembrance for those who remain forever young in our minds.


Teller County Veterans and Veteran supporters will place American flags on the graves of Veterans in all our cemeteries.  On Memorial Day we will raise 50 American Flags in Lions Park and then have a graveside remembrance ceremony for the latest Veteran to pass in Teller County. 


These events and rituals are important and are a connection between those of us still living and those who gave the ultimate sacrifice.  For Veterans who have experienced combat and lost friends this day is especially poignant.  We told them we would not forget them.  We believe that their sacrifice meant something and that none of them died in vain.   Memorial Day cements that promise and reconnects the American people with the American service member.  


We remember those who went to war, said goodbye to their families, and gave their lives so we could live in a free country. While it’s appreciated when we hear it, “thank you for your service,” this tribute should really be reserved for those who never made it back.  As the years pass and those in our ranks pass as well, it is far too easy to forget that sacrifice has a name and was a living person. A person whose life was cut short and a loss that affected countless other people they served with and those who waited back home.  They must not be forgotten. 


The latest census shows that there are 18 million Veterans alive today from WWII through Iraq and Afghanistan.  Each one of those Veterans carries the memories of those who never made it home.  The families of the fallen bear a special kind of pain on Memorial Day as well. 


This year in addition to those from your own experience, please remember these 10 brave souls who lost their lives in Iraq in 2003, twenty years ago. Reflect on their sacrifice, say their names, and understand the true cost of the freedoms we enjoy.  When hostilities ended in Iraq the United States would lose 7,054 service members. 


Sgt. Thomas F. Broomhead, 34, of Cannon City, Colo., killed in Fallujah, Iraq, when a vehicle pulled up and assailants fired on him at a checkpoint, May 27. 

Pfc. Jeremiah D. Smith, 25, of Odessa, Mo., killed in Baghdad, Iraq, when his vehicle hit unexploded ordnance, May 26. 

Maj. Mathew E. Schram, 36, of Wisconsin, killed in Hadithah, Iraq, when the military convoy he was traveling with on a resupply mission encountered enemy fire, May 26. 

Capt. Andrew David LaMont, 31, of Eureka, Calif., killed in a CH-46 Sea-Knight helicopter that went down shortly after take-off in the Shatt Al Hillah Canal, Iraq, May 19. 

Spc. David T. Nutt, 22, of Blackshear, Ga., killed in Mosul, Iraq, when an Iraqi civilian vehicle cut his loaded 5-ton truck off on the road, causing Nutt to swerve and overturn his vehicle, May 14. 

Staff Sgt. Patrick Lee Griffin Jr., 31, of Elgin, S.C., killed in action near Diwaniyah, Iraq, when his convoy was ambushed enroute to Baghdad, May 13. 

Chief Warrant Officer Brian K. Van Dusen, 39, of Columbus, Ohio, killed near Samarrah, Iraq, while onboard an UH-60 air medical helicopter that crashed in the Tigris River, May 9. 

Pfc. Marlin T. Rockhold, 23, of Hamilton, Ohio, killed in Iraq while directing traffic when he was struck by a sniper’s bullet, May 8. 

Army Sgt. Troy David Jenkins, 25, of Ridgecrest, Calif., died at the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, Germany, from wounds received in action in Iraq, April 24. 

Army Sgt. 1st Class John W. Marshall, 50, of Los Angeles, killed by an enemy rocket-propelled grenade in a Baghdad ambush, April 8. 


“Only the dead have seen the end of war” – Plato. 


Dan Williams is a 30-year multiple combat Veteran, Apache helicopter pilot, and retired US Army Colonel. He serves as the Commander of Post 1980 American Legion, is a member of VFW post 6051 and is the district 1 Teller County Commissioner. 


On Saturday May 27 at 10 a.m. Veterans and Veteran Supporters will meet in the Woodland Park Cemetery to place American Flags on graves. There will be a Memorial Day Remembrance Celebration at 11 a.m. in the Woodland Park Cemetery on Monday May 29, 2023 


The public is warmly invited to both events.