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11th Aviation Command unveils memorial at private event Saturday

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Actor Kevin Costner to speak, perform song at Fort Knox

By Marty Finley

A memorial honoring soldiers under the 11th Aviation Command and its subordinate units killed during the global war on terror will be unveiled Saturday morning at Fort Knox.

A Hollywood celebrity will participate in ceremonies planned for families serving as guests of honor.

The memorial features a bronze battle cross and a granite wall surrounding the cross that includes the names of those from the command and its subordinate units who have died in combat, said Capt. Malisa Hamper, a public affairs officer with the 11th Aviation Command, an Army Reserve headquarters unit stationed at Fort Knox.

The unveiling is scheduled for 11 a.m. Saturday at the 11th Aviation Command headquarters on post. It is a private memorial and is closed to the public, she said.

Actor Kevin Costner, who has starred in films such as “Dances with Wolves” and “Field of Dreams,” is scheduled to speak at the memorial and will dedicate a song, titled “The Angels Came Down,” he wrote in honor of Gold Star Family members.

The song previously was played during a memorial service in Kansas for 11th Aviation Command soldiers who lost their lives in a Chinook helicopter crash in Afghanistan last August. The crash killed 25 sailors, airmen and Navy SEALs, officials said.

Hamper said Costner contacted the command and made arrangements to be at Saturday’s ceremony so he personally could share the song with family members.

The soldiers to be honored include Chief Warrant Officer 5 David Carter, Chief Warrant Officer 2 Bryan Nichols, Staff Sgt. Patrick Hamburger, Sgt. Alexander Bennett and Spc. Spencer Duncan, according to Hamper.

Presidents of the Gold Star Mothers and Gold Star Wives organizations and Gold Star families of the soldiers being honored are expected to attend.

Hamper said Costner wants to honor the soldiers but also honor the organizations to give them more attention on a national level.

“The whole point of this memorial is to recognize the soldiers and recognize these organizations” that assist the families, she said.

Hamper said the memorial was paid for by private donations and engineers on post helped construct it.

Marty Finley can be reached at (270) 505-1762.