DVIDS – News – A soldier is remembered as a born leader
Trainees, Soldiers and leaders from the 1st Battalion, 34th Infantry Regiment, 165th Infantry Brigade, gathered at the Main Post Chapel to honor the life of Pfc. Alyssa Cahoon at a small, intimate memorial service on Sept. 16.
A twin, Alyssa Cahoon and her sister Brianna Cahoon enlisted in the US Army on June 21 and completed basic combat training together at Fort Jackson. Alyssa Cahoon collapsed during a training exercise due to a “very rare and completely undetectable heart condition”, according to a Facebook post from her mother Susan Cahoon. She died on August 25, the day of her graduation, surrounded by her sister, brothers and parents.
During the memorial, three of her direct leaders spoke of her dedication to her team, the display of empathy for others and the leadership skills she demonstrated throughout her 10-week training cycle.
“I was thrilled to hear that identical twin sisters were coming here for training. It’s not every day that twins come to the battalion,” said Lt. Col. Brennan Goltry, 1-34th Commanding Officer battalion.” I want to take a moment and celebrate today that in America we still have young men and women like PFC. Alyssa Cahoon and her sister Brianna. Who at 17 know who they are and what they want to be. To serve a cause greater than themselves.
Although Goltry admitted to not knowing her well, he said he wished to have her after hearing about her accolades from her company commander.
“I am a better leader here thanks to the Pfc. (Alyssa) Cahoon,” said Captain Laura Chepek, B Company commander. “Alyssa left us too soon. Pfc. Cahoon has worn many titles; daughter, sister, soldier and leader. To all of us here in mourning, look to your siblings, friends and family as we continue to mourn his loss. Don’t let your sadness overshadow the positive impact Cahoon has had on all of our lives.
The last speaker at the memorial included his drill instructor.
“She was the leader of the fourth team, a position she held throughout the cycle. Student leadership is one of the toughest dynamics when training in basic combat training,” said Master Sgt. Armani Brown, Alyssa Cahoon’s drill sergeant. “I’m proud to have trained her for those 10 weeks. She was able to accomplish what she wanted to be, an American soldier. This is a tragic loss and Bravo Company sends its deepest condolences to the Cahoon family.
At the final roll call, a 21-kick salute and tap game was performed in his honor. The salute follows the tradition of rendering the highest honor since 1875.
As the last bugle note faded, regimental and battalion leaders approached the chapel dais where a single inverted M4 rifle and Kevlar helmet formed a soldier’s cross. Each returned a salute and placed a small memento on the raised platform draped in white.
Surrounded by their parents and three brothers, Pvt. Brianna Cahoon approached the Soldier’s Cross and silently returned her final salute to her sister. Each left personal memories and handwritten notes.
As they walked away, they were met by Brig. Gen. Jason E. Kelly, Commanding General of Fort Jackson, and Post Sergeant Major Philson Tavernier who expressed their condolences.
The ceremony ended when the last of the memorial attendees paid their last respects and the mementos were collected and presented to the Cahoon family.
“We have gathered in this sacred place to honor the life of Pfc. Alyssa Cahoon,” Chaplain (Captain) Bartley Wilt said. “Today we come together to honor, remember and above all celebrate his life.”
|Date posted:||22.09.2022 09:23|
|Location:||FORT JACKSON, South Carolina, USA|
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