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On this Memorial Day, we salute the bravest of the brave.

Fighting in Afghanistan, U.S. troops paused Monday to remember the fallen on this national day of service.

Some prayed and held flag-raising ceremonies at dawn to recognize the more than 1,400 killed in combat here since the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks that triggered the war.

“We reflect on those who have gone before us. We reflect on their service and their sacrifice on behalf of our great nation,” said Brig. Gen. Lewis A. Craparotta, who commands a Marine division in Afghanistan’s southern Helmand province. “We should also remember those serving today who embody that same commitment of service and sacrifice. They are committed to something greater than themselves and they muster the physical and moral courage to accomplish extraordinary feats in battle.”

In Iraq, an estimated 46,000 U.S. troops remain stationed there, though officials say combat operations are over in a nation that saw more than 4,400 American troops die in combat. Under an agreement between Washington and Baghdad, the troops still in Iraq must leave by Dec. 31.

Black Hawk helicopters churned through the night sky Sunday as a strong wind coming over Kabul’s surrounding mountains blew against the flickering candles that cast an orange glow on those gathered for a remembrance ceremony at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ headquarters. 

Today we honor those who gave life and limb to protect their country.

Click next to see a collection of the bravest of the brave.



J.R. Martinez was caught within a truck that transported ammunition and was attacked by the Iraqian resistance. The truck caught fire disfiguring his face and several parts of his body. 


Army Capt. Dan Luckett, 27, of Norcross, Ga., cleans his gun Sept. 13 at Combat Outpost Ashoqeh, Afghanistan. Luckett lost his left leg and part of his right foot in a bomb blast in Iraq in 2008.


Army Capt. Dan Luckett takes a seat at Combat Outpost Ashoqeh.


Robert Jackson lost his two legs in Iraq.


Soldier W.C. Ross in intensive care.  The doctors managed to reconstitute his burst skull. 


Unidentified soldier gets treated at a Veterans hospital.


James Houston, a veteran of Pearl Harbor embraces sergeant Mark Graunke, Jr. during the celebration of Veteran’s Day in the city of Dallas.


Gary Boggs jeep Humvee exploded when a road bomb destroyed his team’s vehicle, damaging his left eye.

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