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Members of the 554 Red Horse Squadron here work in conjunction with Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobil Unit 5, to create a memorial in honor of Navy EOD Technician 1st Class Louis Souffront. Petty Officer Souffront was killed by an improvised explosive device during Operation Iraqi Freedom in February of 2008. (U.S. Air Force Courtesy Photo)
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554 partners with NBG EOD, honors fallen servicemembers

Posted 7/19/2011   Updated 7/20/2011 Email story   Print story


by Airman 1st Class Whitney Tucker
36th Wing Public Affairs

7/19/2011 - ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam -- More than three years have passed since news of Navy Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technician 1st Class Louis Souffront's death traveled from the deserts of Iraq to the doorstep of those he loved. PO1 Souffront, 25, was killed by an improvised explosive device during combat operations in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom Feb. 7, 2008.

Honoring a promise never to forget the fallen, members of Souffront's home-station at Naval Base Guam, made the decision to revamp the current statue and give their brother-in-arms a memorial worthy of his sacrifice and dedication.

"We definitely felt that we needed to create something more elegant," said Hall Maintenance Technician 2nd Class Mike Gacke, a member of EOD Mobil Unit 5. "It needed to be something deserving of the names we would etch into it."

When word spread to the other side of the island, members of the 554 RED HORSE squadron here pulled up their sleeves and got to work.

"Before we began construction the memorial was just a pedestal with a statue on it," said Staff Sgt. Cameron Pleasant, 554 RHS structural journeyman. "It was small and low-profile and we wanted to make it so people would take notice. It also provided an opportunity to add the names of other EOD members who have given their lives for their country."

Seven servicemembers, eight hours a day, five days a week, dedicated a month to the completion of the memorial; a combined effort of more than 250 man-hours.

"We started from the ground up," Sergeant Pleasant said. "We built wall, poured the top cap, the float, installed the tile and grout; this is a process so tedious only someone who's done it can appreciate the precision that goes into laying each individual tile."

For a team that works hard day in and day out, it can be easy to get lost in the heat, dirt and sweat that goes into each project. But according to Petty Officer 2nd Class Gacke, on a job like this, it's important to remember why you're there.

"This job was definitely different than any other I've worked on," he said. "When we started out it was a very dim light at the end of a long tunnel, but as we pressed on, the light got brighter and brighter. You want to put just a little more care into each step, to make sure every piece is exactly right. You want to make something worthy of honoring someone's son, brother, friend."

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