A Fallen Hero

  • Published
  • By Maj. Frank Howard
  • 181st IW/WESO
     The Guard is a family. I have heard this statement throughout my active-duty career, from PME, and from Guard members I have served with. I never paid much attention to this statement, until I joined and saw it in action.
     On a cold May afternoon, the 181 Intelligence Wing leadership learned, through local media sources, that a fallen soldier was being returned from Afghanistan to Indiana to be laid to rest. In fact, the unknown Guardsman would be flying into Hulman Field the next day. Armed with this unexpected information, Col Renwick moved quickly to ensure the fallen soldier's return was met by the Wing with the honor due a fallen hero.
     Specialist Arronn D. Fields, 27, deployed in January with the 381st Military police Company, 81st Troop Command as part of Task Force Guardian, a multi-unit police force from Indiana. Fields died May 21 as a result of injuries sustained during a rocket propelled grenade attack in Qal-ah-ye Mizzaa Jal, Afganistan. A 2003 Northview High School graduate, Arronn enlisted in 2006. Specialist Fields was the 23rd Indiana National Guardsman and the 197th Hoosier killed since the terrorist attacks of 9/11.
     By close of business, the details of Specialist Field's arrival were known and a plan to support his transportation from Hulman Field hammered out. The base would honor Fields as he left the airport by lining the road and rendering a slow, solemn salute to the hearse as the funeral procession left the airport. Wing leadership would join the Army Guard leadership to pay their respects to the family and friends of the deceased.
     The next morning the word went out. With mere hours to plan, organize and assemble, Racers responded to the call in droves. MSgt Pressey volunteered to transport personnel using the motor pool bus. Multiple individuals provided rides to Racer members in their personal vehicles. By 10:00 a.m., more than 80 personnel had volunteered to stand in the cold, foggy weather to honor a soldier who, until a few hours ago, they did not know existed.
     At the airfield, Racers once again stepped up. This time organizing the base volunteers and providing instructions regarding the proper etiquette and procedures for saluting the hearse. When the time arrived for the 181 IW to render their respects, it was Racer standard.