Fallen Soldier

PETERSON AFB, Colo. -- I had prepared another article for this week; however, an event happened recently that compelled me to put that article on the shelf and share this with you.

A fallen hero returned to Peterson Air Force Base from Iraq Sept. 11. That hero was Pfc. Dane R. Balcon, who gave his life serving our country in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Private Balcon was a member of the 1st Cavalry Division at Fort Hood, Texas, and was from the Colorado Springs area.

Watching this fallen hero come home on the anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks that killed 2,974 other heroes could not help but make me pause and reflect on the extraordinary sacrifices our servicemembers and their families have made in keeping our nation safe from harm.

It was a great honor to represent Peterson as I stood at attention next to the Army honor guard, as our nation brought Private Balcon home to his family. Like all of our fallen warriors, Private Balcon had his own personal reasons for serving his country. While paying my respects, I had the opportunity to speak with his mother, Capt. Carla Sizer.

She mentioned that there was a long line of military service in her family and that her son was very proud to carry on this tradition. He always had a strong sense of service before self and it showed in everything he did. This quality was evident given the fact that he joined the Army knowing the risks and dangers that accompany military service during wartime. Despite this, he chose to serve his nation with pride, dedicating his life to the cause of freedom. He loved his country more than he loved himself. His legacy of service is a tremendous example to all.

Those who have served and continue to serve in the Global War on Terror, as well as those who perished in the 9/11 terrorist attacks, are a reminder that freedom is not free. We honor Private Balcon's memory, and the memory of all those who have sacrificed in the name of freedom, by continuing to fight the Global War on Terror and serving the American public to the very best of our ability. We also continue to pray for families who have lost loved ones and for the families of those serving today.

In closing, I'd like to pass on my heartfelt thanks to all the men and women that voluntarily serve in our armed forces. Because of you, we are able to live in a free country and have a certain quality of life that others do not enjoy. The service you provide has a direct impact on our ability to defeat the enemies that pose a direct threat to our nation - don't ever forget that. Again, thank you for wearing the uniform and keeping our nation safe.