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Base unveils memorial for fallen combat controller: Sather Memorial finds new home at JBSA-Lackland

Pararescuemen, combat controllers and Pararescue Indoctrination Course trainees perform “memorial push-ups” during the memorial unveiling ceremony honoring Staff Sgt. Scott D. Sather Jan. 20 at the Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland Training Annex. Sather, a combat controller, was the first U.S. Air Force combat casualty during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Created by Air Force civil engineers, Sather’s memorial was displayed at Sather Air Base, near Baghdad International Airport, until its arrival here in October 2011. Sather AB has since transitioned from Air Force ownership and now falls under the Department of State as Sather Logistics Hub. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Marleah Miller)

Pararescuemen, combat controllers and Pararescue Indoctrination Course trainees perform “memorial push-ups” during the memorial unveiling ceremony honoring Staff Sgt. Scott D. Sather Jan. 20 at the Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland Training Annex. Sather, a combat controller, was the first U.S. Air Force combat casualty during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Created by Air Force civil engineers, Sather’s memorial was displayed at Sather Air Base, near Baghdad International Airport, until its arrival here in October 2011. Sather AB has since transitioned from Air Force ownership and now falls under the Department of State as Sather Logistics Hub. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Marleah Miller)

Melanie Sather, widow of Staff Sgt. Scott D. Sather, and step-father, Lucky Craft, pay their respects at the unveiling of Sather’s memorial. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Marleah Miller)

Melanie Sather, widow of Staff Sgt. Scott D. Sather, and step-father, Lucky Craft, pay their respects at the unveiling of Sather’s memorial. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Marleah Miller)

Staff Sgt. Dale Young, 342nd Training Squadron combat controller, bows his head in reflection during a memorial unveiling for Staff Sgt. Scott D. Sather, Jan. 20, 2012, Medina Annex, Lackland Air Force Base, San Antonio, Texas. Sather was the United States Air Force?s first combat casualty during Operation Iraqi Freedom.  The memorial, honoring Sather?s leadership and bravery, was sea-lifted from Sather Air Base, Baghdad, Iraq, to Lackland Air Force Base, Texas. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Colville McFee)

Staff Sgt. Dale Young, a 342nd Training Squadron combat controller, bows his head in reflection during the memorial unveiling ceremony for Staff Sgt. Scott D. Sather Jan. 20 at the Joint Base-San Antonio-Lackland Training Annex. Sather was the Air Force’s first combat casualty during Operation Iraqi Freedom. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Colville McFee)

Staff Sgt. Scott D. Sather

Staff Sgt. Scott D. Sather

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas -- The family of the first Air Force enlisted combat casualty in Operation Iraqi Freedom unveiled a memorial at the 342nd Training Squadron on the Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland Training Annex Jan. 20.

Family members of fallen combat controller Staff Sgt. Scott Sather uncovered the large concrete pedestal featuring a dark marble top with a white marble star and brass plate attached following a short, solemn ceremony. They were assisted by Col. Patrick Vetter, 37th Training Wing vice commander, and Col. Marc Stratton, Inter-American Air Forces Academy commander.

Sather's memorial was built by the 447th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron at Sather Air Base near Baghdad and dedicated on Veterans Day, Nov. 11, 2009. Sather was attached to the 75th Ranger Regiment, an elite Ranger reconnaissance detachment, from the 24th Special Tactics Squadron, Pope Air Force Base, N.C., when he was killed April 8, 2003, in Iraq.

Coordination between several Air Force commands began last February before the memorial was crated for shipping in March 2011. The 12,000-pound container was shipped from the Middle East in September, arrived in Dallas a month later, and then trucked to JBSA-Lackland.

The memorial was placed next to the 342nd TRS flagpole to remind squadron members of Sather's legacy of valor, leadership and bravery. Students do push ups in front of the flagpole in the morning and memorial push-ups at 4 p.m. every weekday after retreat.
Stratton, a former Special Tactics group commander and combat control officer who served with Sather, described during the ceremony how the memorial serves as a permanent reminder for trainees of the mission-focused Battlefield Airmen culture that cherishes the Air Force core values.

"This memorial will serve as a source of strength, a symbol of honor, courage and tenacity in facing the enemy," Stratton said. "The Air Force core values of Integrity, Service and Excellence are on display here. The concept for team is built here (at the 342nd TRS).

"And there is the Service Above Self component," he said. "Your loyalty to the team, your teammates and the mission often trumps your individual needs. Scott epitomized what a teammate was supposed to be."

Family members at the unveiling included Sather's widow, Melanie; his mother and step-father, Karin and Lucky Craft; and his father and step-mother, Rodney and Laurie Sather. Special guests were Gen. Edward A. Rice Jr., commander of Air Education and Training Command, and Lt. Gen. Eric Fiel, commander Air Force Special Operations Command.

The family was flanked by pararescuemen, combat controllers and pararescue indoctrination course trainees from the 342nd TRS, who concluded the event with memorial push-ups.
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