Today is the fifth anniversary of the death of Sgt. Patrick Stewart, who was killed along with four other US troops of “Mustang 22″ when their helicopter was shot down by enemy fire in Afghanistan. Sgt. Stewart was the first openly Pagan soldier to be killed in the line of duty, and his death is what ultimately led to Wiccan soldiers finally being granted the right to have the pentacle engraved on their military tombstone or marker after ten years of stonewalling by the VA.
Staff Sgt. Patrick Stewart.
“A Nevada Army Guard memorial is set to be dedicated Saturday. The permanent memorial will pay tribute to the Nevada Army Guard’s Mustang 22 crew and helicopter, which was the CH-47 Chinook helicopter that was shot down in Afghanistan on September 25, 2005. Five soldiers were killed in action: Chief Warrant Officer John Flynn, Warrant Officer Adrian Stump, Staff Sgt. Patrick Stewart, Staff Sgt. Tane Baum, and Sgt. Kenneth Ross. Flynn and Stewart were in the Nevada Army Guard.”
In addition, a special remembrance rite was performed today at Circle Sanctuary.
“A Remembrance Rite will be conducted by circle Sanctuary’s senior minister Rev. Selena Fox & Pagan veteran Al Rickey of the Order of the Pentacle & others at 9:15 am CDT on Saturday, September 25 at Circle Sanctuary Nature Preserve in Wisconsin at the start of this year’s Welcome Fall Festival. The rite will be held at Circle Cemetery at Sgt. Stewart’s grave marker, which was one of the first pentacle markers issued by the US Department of Veterans Affairs after it added the pentacle to its list of emblems of belief.
Circle Sanctuary invites others to join in honoring the service & sacrifice of the Mustang 22 Crew killed in action on September 25, 2005 by kindling a candle, ringing a bell, speaking their names, and/or honoring them in other ways: Chief Warrant Officer John Flynn, Warrant Officer Adrian Stump, Staff Sgt. Patrick Stewart, Staff Sgt. Tane Baum, Sgt. Kenneth Ross.”
Stewart’s sacrifice not only led to the Veteran Pentacle Quest victory, but helped spark a movement within our interconnected communities to expand on that victory and include other Pagan symbols on military headstones and markers, and to continue the fight for Pagan military chaplains. Let us honor Stewart’s sacrifice, and the sacrifice of all Pagan military personnel who choose to serve. I would also like to extend blessings to Patrick’s widow, Roberta Stewart, and their family and friends on this day. My blessings as well to all the veterans and civilians who work tirelessly to see that Pagan military personnel receive equal treatment and consideration, a struggle that continues today.