EGLIN AFB — Four 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne) troops who died within the past year were memorialized Friday afternoon in ceremonies at the group's Liberty Chapel.
The four soldiers also will be remembered with plaques on the Memorial Wall in front of the 7th Group's headquarters building. The semicircular polished-stone wall, split in the middle to represent the physical and spiritual worlds, was privately funded through the work of Chapter 7 of the Special Forces Association, a nonprofit organization that supports the Special Forces community.
"As they have been engraved on these plaques, let us never forget them," Maj. Peter Hofman said in a prayer to open the ceremony.
"They are our family," Col. Patrick Colloton, commander of the 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne), told the families, friends and 7th Group soldiers.
First dedicated in 2016, the wall is rededicated each year during Red Empire Week, a reunion of former and current 7th Group troops. Originally intended to honor 7th Group personnel who died in combat, criteria for inclusion on the wall were expanded last year to include training accidents and other non-combat situations. As a result, 67 names were added to the memorial last year. The addition of the four new names brings the number of troops honored on the Memorial to nearly 150.
Among the 7th Group troops honored this year was 21-year-old Spc. Nicholas Jividen, who died in a Nov. 6, 2018, training accident at California's Fort Irwin National Training Center. Jividen had been assigned to Headquarters and Support Company, 3rd Battalion, 7th Special Forces Group as a signals intelligence analyst. A West Virginia native, Jividen joined the Army in 2015. He deployed to Kuwait with the 7th Group for six months in 2017 in support of Operation Inherent Resolve.
Also remembered Thursday was Sgt. 1st Class Angel Alverio, who died in a vehicle accident near Seattle on April 20. Alverio, 37, was visiting home when the accident occurred. A member of the 7th Group's support battalion, Alverio had been on 7th Group deployments to Afghanistan and Latin America. Alverio is survived by his wife and four children.
Alverio's death came just days after 7th Group Green Beret Sgt. 1st Class Thomas Robinett, who also was memorialized Friday, died in an April boating accident on Choctawhatchee Bay. Robinett had just returned from a six-month deployment before his passing, according to Colloton.
Robinett enlisted in the Army in 2007 and deployed with the 7th Group to Honduras, Colombia, El Salvador and Afghanistan. In 2013 he won the U.S. Army Special Forces Command Best Warrior Competition. Robinett is survived by his wife and three children.
The fourth name added to the Memorial Wall on Friday was Master Sgt. Arthur Enriquez, 36, who died late last year after a battle with cancer.
Friday's ceremony was held indoors due to the threat of rain, but a number of people made their way to the Memorial Wall to pay their respects. Among them was Bill Houston, a longtime 7th Group soldier. Asked who he was there to remember, Houston said, "There's a bunch of them."
Houston comes to the 7th Group compound at least once a year from his home in North Carolina to pay homage to his fallen comrades.
"The whole mantra about the 7th Group being a family business is really true," he said.
In addition to adding names to the Memorial Wall, the 7th Group on Friday named its medical and dental facility for a 7th Group Green Beret who posthumously earned the Distinguished Service Cross, the nation's second-highest military award for valor, during his service in Vietnam.
The clinic was named for Master Sgt. Gabriel R. Alamo, who earned the Distinguished Service Cross for actions during the July 6, 1964, attack on Camp Nam Dong, a 300-person South Vietnamese government outpost. The camp was attacked by 800 Viet Cong and North Vietnamese troops, precipitating a violent five-hour battle.
During the battle, Alamo's actions included rushing into a burning building to remove weapons and ammunition and repeatedly braving hails of enemy gunfire. He suffered burns and a serious wound, but continued to fight, refusing medical treatment to direct mortar fire until he was mortally wounded.
"I'm honored, and my family is honored," Alamo's son, Mike, told a crowd gathered for the dedication. Master Sgt. Alamo's memory also is noted elsewhere on the 7th Group compound, "but this is going to be here a long time," his son said.
Also Friday, Colloton noted that the 7th Group's compound now includes a memorial to the special-purpose military working dogs that have been part of the group. The 7th Group has lost two working dogs, Shadow and Apollo, Colloton said.
"These, our brothers and sisters in arms, go everywhere we go," Colloton told the crowd in the chapel. The memorial for the working dogs is located within sight of the Memorial Wall, meaning the dogs are perpetually "standing watch over our brothers," he added.