Memorial service pays tribute to fallen Ft. Jackson soldiers

Updated: Oct. 17, 2017 at 7:18 PM EDT
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FORT JACKSON, SC (WIS) - They were soldiers for sure.

Young men who made a commitment only weeks ago to join the United States Army and leave their homes to come to Fort Jackson.

But they were young. Private Timothy Ashcraft from Cincinnati, OH was 18. Private Ethan Shrader from the tiny community of Prospect, TN was 19.

Their budding military careers cut short when a truck hauling a water tank on the Army's largest basic training post slammed into their formation from behind, killing Ashcraft and Shrader.

Six other soldiers suffered injuries. At a memorial service held Tuesday morning at the Fort Jackson Post Chapel, superiors and fellow soldiers remembered the two, who had made an impact despite their short time as trainees.

"Unfortunately life is unpredictable," said Ashcraft's friend Private Jarret Honner.

"On Oct. 6, we lost more than a platoon member. We lost more than a battle buddy. We lost a dear friend," he told mourners, who included members of the soldiers' families.

Private Darren Sikes said Shrader had a strong Christian faith.

"Being with him every day you could tell he was a very happy man because of all he had, a family who loved him very much and a God who sustained him throughout his entire life," Sikes said.

Other praise came from the 2nd Battalion, 13th Infantry's top leaders.

"Let there be no doubt that Tim Ashcraft and Ethan Shrader both made us proud," said Lt. Col. Jason Pieri.

The ceremony was followed by a 21-gun salute and the playing of Taps.

An Army investigative team from Fort Rucker, Alabama has been looking into the circumstances of the collision. A final report is not expected for six months or more.

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