TBILISI, Georgia –
Soldiers from U.S. Army Research Directorate-Georgia (USAMRD-G), took part in commemorating the 28th Anniversary of the fall of Sokhumi at the Georgian Veterans Mémorial in Heroes Square, Sept. 27.
The ceremony honored the victims of the Sokhumi Massacre of 1993 and the subsequent fall of Abkhazia to Russia-backed forces. Soldiers from U.S. Army Research Directorate-Georgia and U.S. Embassy leadership have performed a formal wreath laying ceremony at the memorial for the last six years to honor Georgian veterans, the memories of the thousands who fell and the survivors of that day. Remembrance ceremonies are held across the country annually on Sept. 27.
“Taking part in this ceremony is just one way we pay tribute to their memory,” Lt. Col. Matthew Scherer, USAMRD-G Director said. “Twenty eight years ago marked a tragedy, but today we honor those who were lost and re-affirm our strong bonds of friendship and enduring support.”
Ambassador Kelly C. Degnan, and Col. Stephanie Bagley, Senior Defense Official and Defense Attaché, joined the U.S. diplomats during the ceremony, attended by senior Georgian military and civilians.
“This grave tragedy resulted in thousands losing their lives and hundreds of thousands forced from their homes,” according to a message from the U.S. Embassy. “We remember this day with sorrow and with the hope that remains in the hearts of so many internally displaced people.”
The selection of the Georgian Veteran’s Memorial guarded by Ministry of Defense sentinels as the site for rendering honors is also a tribute to Georgian military personnel.
“The ceremony highlights the resolute bonds of shared mission, values, and purpose that link U.S. and Georgian Defense Forces in their shared commitment to sustaining Georgia as a strong, prosperous and enduring beacon of democracy in the region,” Scherer said. “We will continue to support the U.S. Mission in Georgia with presence activities demonstrating the strong bilateral Defense relationship between our forces.”
Members from USAMRD-G promote warfighter readiness and force health protection across Europe for U.S. and allied forces deployed within U.S. European Command. One of Walter Reed Army Institute of Research expeditionary laboratories, the unit supports integrated country team priorities by promoting improved health outcomes for the Georgian people and by enhancing local capability in infectious disease surveillance and biomedical research.