May 10, 2013 Updated: May 10, 2013 at 11:05 am
Capt. Marc Shim invoked the Bible's book of Ecclesiastes, while thinking of the two men pictured to his left.
He recalled how there would be a time for weeping and laughter. A time for birth. A time for death.
'Some of those times came earlier than we thought, ' Shim, a Fort Carson chaplain, said.
Shim spoke to a chapel filled with mourners who gathered Thursday to remember two Fort Carson soldiers who died May 2 when their vehicle crashed at Camp Buehring in Kuwait.
Spc. Trinidad Santiago Jr., 25, and Spc. Charles P. McClure, 21, were the first two casualties in the 4th Infantry Division's 1st Brigade Combat Team since the unit deployed in February to Kuwait.
One of the soldiers was a battle-tested veteran. The other died on his first deployment.
Santiago, of San Diego, found out shortly after leaving for Kuwait that his wife, Belgica Santiago, is pregnant. They met while he was on leave from his first deployment, a tour to Afghanistan.
Under an ultrasound picture posted on his Facebook page, he mentioned his baby's due date.
'They (doctors) said Oct. 19th, ' wrote Santiago, who also had a stepson. 'Hopefully I'll be home by then. '
On Thursday, soldiers remembered Santiago's penchant for scoring well on physical fitness tests. He'd often finish his run ahead of his comrades - then run back and finish with them.
'Spc. Santiago was never satisfied with his own success, ' said Capt. Joseph Paolini, of the 1st Brigade Combat Team.
McClure, who joined the Army in November 2011, was promoted posthumously to specialist. The Stratford, Okla., native recently earned the highest score in his platoon for the crew cannoneer's written exam, Staff Sgt. Russell Pickron said.
His greatest strength, though, came in his ability to help comrades in times of strife. His most useful tool: an ever-present smile.
'He had a bright future in the United States Army, ' Pickeron said during the service.
Their deaths weighed heavily on the unit Thursday.
The nine-month tour is a change after a decade of war zone deployments. Rather than fighting insurgents, the 1st Brigade planned to spend much of its time performing military exercises across the Kuwaiti desert.
The deployment serves as a show of force against nearby Iran, while also helping the U.S. protect its interests in the region, say Middle East observers and experts.
Comrades thought everyone would come home this time.
'It plays with the mind, it does, ' said Sgt. Justin Bryant, who served in the soldiers' unit, the 4th Battalion, 42nd Field Artillery Regiment.
Shim recognized that grief.
His advice: Don't fight the pain. Accept it, and those times of sadness will pass.
'We must acknowledge that grief, ' he said.
EDITOR'S NOTE: This story has been changed to state the correct name of the chaplain who offered a sermon at the memorial.
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