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Flag dedicated for soldiers memorial
SILVANA The memorial for Silvana native Justin Hebert will receive a new flag Oct. 7, courtesy of American Legion Post 76 and Wal-Mart.
Wal-Mart donated the flag, and the American Legion will dedicate it at 3 p.m. Oct. 7, at the memorial just outside of Willow and Jims Cafe.
Hebert died in Kirkuk, Iraq, Aug. 1, 2003, at the age of 20. The Army specialist and paratrooper of the 173rd Airborne Brigade was one of more than 1,800 sky soldiers who have died in Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq. They were honored by a national memorial to the 173rd in Ft. Benning, Ga., Oct. 7 of last year.
Hebert and his fellow fallen members of the 173rd had previously been memorialized in Vicenza, Italy, June 23 of that year. The 173rd had been deactivated in 1972, but was reactivated in 2000 in Vicenza, more than a year before he became a member of the brigade. He graduated from Army basic training one week before Sept. 11, 2001.
Hebert was killed in action when his convoy crossed the Tigris River at a place nicknamed the bridge of death by American troops because of the number of casualties suffered there. His sister Jessica heard from his fellow soldiers that he was driving the rear vehicle in the convoy and sped up under attack, to get the truck full of people he was carrying out of harms way.
Jim Payne, co-owner of Willow and Jims Cafe, credits the entire community with coming together to establish Heberts memorial in Silvana, complete with an engraved plaque beside the old school bell. He hopes the community will come together again to honor Heberts memory Oct. 7 at 3 p.m.