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"A Tribute to Honor: Remembering Master Sergeant Michael B. Riley"

On this Memorial Day, I want to honor the memory of Master Sergeant Michael B. Riley, a friend and a hero who was taken from us far too soon. Michael was born on December 6, 1986, in Heilbronn, Germany, and he dedicated his life to serving his country with unparalleled bravery and commitment.

Michael enlisted in the Army in March 2006, a decision that would lead him to a distinguished career marked by exceptional service and sacrifice. After completing Basic Combat Training at Fort Benning and Advanced Individual Training at Fort Gordon, he became vital to the 112th Special Operations Command Europe Signal Detachment. His journey continued as Riley completed the rigorous Special Forces Qualification Course at Fort Bragg in 2012, earning his place as a Special Forces Communications Sergeant with the 1st Battalion, 10th Special Forces Group at Panzer Kaserne, Germany. In 2017, he was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 10th Special Forces Group at Fort Carson, Colorado, where he deployed six times to support Operations ENDURING FREEDOM and FREEDOM'S SENTINEL in Afghanistan.

Michael's bravery was evident on June 25, 2019, when he was fatally wounded by enemy small arms fire in Uruzgan Province, Afghanistan, during his sixth deployment. His death was a profound loss to all who knew him and to the nation he served so selflessly. I first met Michael when Heather and I were stationed at Fort Lee, Virginia. From the moment we met, he was a man of extraordinary character. Michael embodied honor and respect in everything he set out to accomplish. He would often borrow my truck, and unlike anyone else, he would always return it with a full gas tank. This gesture perfectly captured his sense of responsibility and consideration for others.

Michael was not just a soldier; he was a true friend. His motivation and genuine care for those around him were inspiring. Heather and I often reminisce about our time together; our household feels his absence deeply. His death in 2019 was a heartbreaking blow, but his memory lives on in the stories we share and the legacy he left behind.

Reflecting on Memorial Day, we must remember stories like Michael's. He was a man of immense class and honor, a dedicated soldier, and a beloved friend. His awards and decorations—including the Bronze Star Medal, Meritorious Service Medal, Army Commendation Medal with four Oak Leaf Clusters, and many more—are a testament to his exemplary service and dedication.

But beyond the medals and accolades, Michael's spirit and impact on those around him truly define his legacy. He was a person who genuinely cared, who valued friendship, and who lived his life with a sense of purpose and honor that is rare and deeply admirable.

On this Memorial Day, remember Master Sergeant Michael B. Riley and all the brave men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice. Let us honor their memories, cherish their stories, and strive to live with the same sense of duty and honor they exemplified. Michael, you will always be remembered, missed, and forever a hero.

In Christ, love Jared W. Campbell

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