More than 3,000 turn out for graduation, wreath laying at Infantry Museum

benw@ledger-enquirer.comMay 24, 2013 

Nearly three years after losing their Ranger son in battle in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, Donna and Timothy Vogeler watched in the stands Friday as another son completed training at Fort Benning.

“It is very emotional for sure,” Donna said of Pvt. Christopher Vogeler after a ceremony at the National Infantry Museum and Soldier Center. “It’s an honor.”

Christopher Vogeler was one of more than 600 soldiers from the 198th Infantry Brigade to graduate from basic training. His brother, Sgt. 1st Class Lance Herman Vogeler, died Oct. 1, 2010, in a heavy fire fight while conducting combat operations. A member of 1st Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, Vogeler’s sacrifice and those of others soldiers were remembered with the laying of a wreath during a Memorial Day ceremony.

With more than 3,000 people at the graduation and ceremony, some Rangers filed past the Vogelers of Frederick, Md., to support the family and thank them three days before Memorial Day.

Timothy Vogeler said he had mixed emotions but felt honored to watch his son graduate. “I’m very proud,” Timothy said. “We are proud of both of our sons.”

Donna said the Army is a passion for her son who briefly put his dream on hold until Lance died at age 29 in Afghanistan. “He started to wait for a while then after his brother was killed he realized that he had to follow that passion,” she said.

Emily Vogeler, Christopher’s wife, said she knew he could complete the training. “I’m just proud he is here pursuing his dreams,” she said.

Pvt. Nathaniel Mayfield, 19, of Springfield, Ill., said it’s an honor to graduate and serve his country with people he met three months ago. “I’m joining my brothers in arms,” said Mayfield, whose next duty station will be at Fort Wainwright, Alaska.

For Pvt. Edwin Scheepers, the graduation is his second honor in two days. The 26-year-old native of Johannesburg, South Africa, took the oath to become a U.S. citizen Thursday.

“It’s just really great to be out here on this occasion,” he said.

Scheepers is a member of the Army National Guard in Oregon and plans to stay in the military long enough to retire. In the meantime, he hopes to land a job in law enforcement.

Pvt. James Fisher, 21, of Oakland, Calif., said it feels good to become a soldier. His father in the Navy, and he is headed for Fort Carson, Colo. “I’m coming in next and will be the next generation soldier to go on the front lines and defend the home country,” he said.

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