By Pfc. DeAngelo Wells, 3rd BCT, 4th Inf Div PAO
COS GARRY OWEN, Iraq – The 1st Battalion, 8th Infantry Regiment “Fighting Eagles”, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, gathered to pay respects to a fellow Soldier May 3, 2010.
The memorial was held in honor of Pfc. Charlie Antonio, of Kahului, Hawaii, Company A, 1st Bn., 8th Inf. Regt., who died April 18 from a noncombat injury.
“Antonio was very dependable and a go-to guy. When something needed to be done he would get it done,” said Sgt. Dennis Banks, of Mariotta, Ga., Co. A.
Lt. Col. John P. DiGiambattista, commander of 1st Bn., 8th Inf. Reg., gave a brief speech expressing the unit’s condolences to family and friends. Two of Antonio’s friends also said their final goodbyes. The last one to speak was Chaplain (Capt.) Derek Pottinger, 1st Bn., 8th Inf. Regt.
“Charlie was motivated and dedicated to being in Iraq and accomplishing the mission,” DiGiambattista said during the remembrance..
“As we remember Pfc. Charlie Antonio and thank God for his presence in our lives, we remember the most important thing we have here are our brothers and sisters standing beside us,” DiGiambattista said.
At the conclusion of the ceremony, Soldiers stood before Antonio’s “Battle Cross,” paying last respects and placing small tokens beside his photograph.
The Battle Cross was placed at the front of attendees as a tribute showing both honor and respect. Antonio’s inverted rifle with bayonet signaled a time for prayer, his helmet and identification tags signified a fallen brother in arms, and Antonio’s combat boots represented his final march. The cross is traditionally accompanied by an enlarged photo of the Soldier.
Antonio was a devoted Soldier that looked out for his battle buddies. He was always pushing his friends to be better in every aspect of being a Soldier, said Pvt. Alex Castro, a Los Angeles, Calif. native, also assigned to Co. A.