In a solemn ceremony Friday at the Homestead Air Reserve Base, the military unveiled a black granite memorial wall for U.S. commandos killed in Latin America and the Caribbean.
U.S. Navy Rear Adm. Collin Green of the Special Operations Command, the U.S. Southern Command’s commando headquarters, presided at the ceremony “to memorialize these fallen warriors” whom he noted “paid the ultimate sacrifice as they trained for and participated in combat operations during a critical period in our nation’s history.”
A sailor read aloud the names of 143 warriors killed in Latin America and the Caribbean since Jan. 1, 1963.
Read more about the Special Operations Command South, known as SocSouth here.
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To be sure, the admiral said, some of these were “proxy wars between the United States and the former Soviet Union.”
“But more fundamentally,” the U.S. forces who fell were serving in support of “Western values of democratically elected governments, personal freedom and human rights.”
The memorial wall bears the the insignia of the four services represented there — Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines — and a saying by President Ronald Reagan: “We will always remember. We will always be proud. We will always be prepared. So we may always be free.”
Separately, the monument commemorates four different major combat operations in the region: the El Salvador civil war; President Bill Clinton’s 1994 invasion in Haiti to return coup-ousted President Jean-Bernard Aristide to power; President George H.W. Bush’s 1989 invasion of Panama to capture Manuel Noriega on drug-trafficking charges; and President Ronald Reagan’s anti-Communist 1983 invasion of Grenada.
Retired Army Brig. Gen. Hector E. Pagan of Apollo Beach, a former Socsouth commander, was the guest speaker.