CJSOAC dedicate headquarters to fallen Special Tactics Airmen
By 1st Lt. Carly A. Costello
/ Published July 02, 2016
BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan -- The Combined Joint Special Operations Air Component named their headquarters building in honor of two fallen Special Tactics Airmen during a memorial-naming ceremony at Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan, June 29.
The headquarters was dedicated to Capt. Matthew Roland, 23rd Special Tactics Squadron, Hurlburt Field, Florida, and Staff Sgt. Forrest Sibley, 21st Special Tactics Squadron, Pope Army Airfield, North Carolina, who were killed August 26, 2015, when two Afghan National Defense and Security Forces individuals opened fire on their convoy at a checkpoint near Camp Antonik in the Helmand Province, Afghanistan.
Roland was posthumously awarded the Silver Star medal for giving his last full measure to save his teammates’ lives. Seconds before the attack that ended his life, he recognized the imminent threat of attack and gave his convoy enough time to react to the insider attack with a radio call.
Roland and Sibley were both Special Tactics Airmen, whose role on the battlefield is to integrate air power into special operations ground missions.
The building is marked with a sign handcrafted from stainless steel by the CJSOAC maintenance artisans assigned to the 27th Special Operations Wing at Cannon Air Force Base, New Mexico, according to the commander of the CJSOAC.
There are 51 stars that light up at night, representing the brave CJSOAC warriors who have lost their lives on the battlefield. The aircraft and special operator silhouettes represent the combat capability CJSOAC brings to the battlefield. In solidarity with their Afghan partners, Afghan brick and marble comprises the base of the sign.
“The naming of our headquarters is not only in their honor but is representative of the 51 CJSOAC members from the Air Force Special Operations Command and the United States Army Special Operations Aviation Command who have made the ultimate sacrifice for their fellow warriors and our country,” said the CJSOAC commander.
A Special Tactics officer who was a close friend and teammate of Roland and Sibley, spoke about the two Airmen during the ceremony.
“Matt dedicated himself entirely to his men and the mission and strove to improve everyone around him every day and we are all now better for it,” the Special Tactics officer said. “Forrest wasn’t just a part of the brotherhood, Forrest was the brotherhood. He was perpetually the glue that brought teammates, new and old, together.”
The teammate ended with a reminder that those lost on the battlefield will never be forgotten.
“One of Matt and Forrest’s good friends and teammate says that a man dies twice. The first time a man dies is when he leaves this earth as Matt and Forrest did on August 26, 2015. This time that a man dies hurts us, his family, teammates, friends and loved ones as we remember and miss him,” he said. “But the second time a man dies is the last time his name is spoken. Because of today, and because we will never stop telling stories of the great lives lived by these men, neither Matt nor Forrest will ever die a second time.”
The ceremony ended with all attendees completing memorial push-ups in formation, shouting Roland and Sibley’s name in unison.