Joe here from the DAWG Foundation, and I would like to share a story with you about a real American hero. One that I knew personally, and whose sacrifice embodies the meaning of Memorial Day.
Ben and I grew up in South Amboy, a small town on the central New Jersey coastline (called the ‘Bayshore’ by the residents). While I grew up in a small house near the train station, being raised by both my mother and father (as well as 4 older sisters), Ben and his two brothers (Dave and Dan) grew up in a small apartment in ‘the projects’….that part of town that people liked to look down upon. He was raised by his mother, a devout Christian woman, who was very strict (but fair) with her 3 rambunctious boys…Honestly, I think I fought more with the Sebban boys than I played with them. Despite what some might consider a tough start, all three of these boys turned out to be good men, and amazing patriots.
Ben was a few years older than me, and thus our interactions were less than they were with Dan and Dave. He was also much more mild-mannered than his brothers…so much so that we sometimes gave him grief for it (kids will be kids, but I now regret the way I treated him). Despite our best efforts to make him feel bad, Ben grew up to be an outstanding man, and a truly heroic soldier.
Ben, and his 2 brothers served during the War on Terror; all of them in the Army. At the time of his death, Ben was attached to the 5th Squadron, 73rd Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team (HQ unit) of the 82nd Airborne Division…an illustrious unit…and he maintained their high level of heroism.
On March 17, 2007 Ben was a part of Operation Iraqi Freedom as a Medic. According to the official report (which was read by President George W. Bush during his 2008 Memorial Day radio address):
“…[While in] Iraq’s Diyala Province, Ben saw a truck filled with explosives racing toward his team of paratroopers. He ran into the open to warn them, exposing himself to the blast. Ben received severe wounds, but this good medic never bothered to check his own injuries. Instead, he devoted his final moments on this earth to treating others.”
Ben was my friend. He was a fellow soldier and patriot. He gave his life so that his brothers would live. There is no greater hero than he. This Memorial Day, I would ask that you say an extra prayer for Ben’s family, and thank him for the ultimate sacrifice he has made…for all of us.
Rest easy, Ben.
This monument on the waterfront in South Amboy, NJ was built to honor Ben’s sacrifice.
—-BEN’S SILVER STAR CITATION—-
Awarded posthumously for actions during the Global War on Terror
The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress July 9, 1918 (amended by an act of July 25, 1963), takes pride in presenting the Silver Star (Posthumously) to Sergeant First Class Benjamin L. Sebban, United States Army, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action against the enemy while serving as a Senior Medic with Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, 5th Squadron, 73d Cavalry Regiment (Airborne Reconnaissance), 82d Airborne Division, by placing himself in a position of danger to ensure his unit’s welfare during combat operations in support of Operation IRAQI FREEDOM, on 17 March 2007, in Diyala Province, Iraq. On that date, Sergeant First Class Sebban safeguarded the lives of 86 paratroopers during a suicide-car-bomb attack on a combat outpost. Sergeant First Class Sebban noticed a civilian truck accelerating toward the compound laden with explosives. Stepping from behind a Humvee, he moved toward the vehicle and warned his fellow paratroopers of the impending attack yelling three times until the explosion from the vehicle knocked him down. Although mortally wounded by shrapnel injuries to his abdomen, groin and legs, Sergeant First Class Sebban immediately moved to the aid station to begin treating his fellow wounded paratroopers until he collapsed and succumbed to his wounds. Sergeant First Class Sebban’s valiant actions prevented enemy insurgent forces from overrunning his position and caused the enemy element to retreat.