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The Leavenworth Times - Leavenworth, KS
  • Battlefield cross to honor fallen soldier

  • An Army Ranger who was killed last year in Afghanistan will be remembered this weekend with a ceremony at the Leavenworth Veterans Memorial.
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  • An Army Ranger who was killed last year in Afghanistan will be remembered this weekend with a ceremony at the Leavenworth Veterans Memorial.
    A battlefield cross honoring Sgt. Patrick Hawkins will be dedicated at 11 a.m. Saturday. The ceremony is open to the public.
    Hawkins and three other service members were killed by an improvised explosive device Oct. 6, 2013, in the Kandahar Province of Afghanistan.
    Hawkins, who was 25, was moving to help a wounded soldier when he was killed, according to information released by the Army.
    He was assigned to Company B, 3rd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment at Fort Benning, Ga. He was killed during his fourth deployment to Afghanistan.
    Hawkins had ties to the area. His wife and in-laws live in Lansing, and he attended middle school in Lansing, said Diana Pitts, Leavenworth Veterans Memorial Committee chairwoman.
    The Leavenworth Veterans Memorial is located near the volunteer services center at the main entrance of the Eisenhower VA Medical Center, 4101 S. Fourth St.
    Pitts said Hawkins' mother-in-law, Tamara Watts, contacted her through Facebook the day the Leavenworth Veterans Memorial was dedicated last October.
    "She proceeded to ask me about the memorial," Pitts said, and it was decided family members would purchase a battlefield cross to honor Hawkins.
    The battlefield cross is a monument depicting empty combat boots, a rifle and helmet. It also displays a plaque with Hawkins' name.
    "It gives them a place to reflect on his service and sacrifice," Pitts said.
    She said the battlefield cross also will remind visitors that service members are still fighting and dying for the freedoms of Americans.
    The battlefield cross joins five others that were part of the original Leavenworth Veterans Memorial.
    Pitts said some of Hawkins' "battle buddies" plan to attend Saturday's dedication. She said members of the Patriot Guard also have expressed interest in attending.
    Pitts asked that those attending Saturday's dedication be "supportive and patriotic and in full respect of what our military veterans have given to protect our freedoms."
    Pitts said there is still an additional phase to be completed at the Leavenworth Veterans Memorial.
    She said four granite tablets will be added to the memorial. Organizers are trying to determine what will appear on the additional tablets.
    The next phase probably will be completed in the spring, she said.

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