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Lakeland couple honors fallen Bay area soldiers

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Staff Sgt. Bryan Berky, U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Bryan Berky, U.S. Air Force
Army Sgt. Terry M. Lisk Army Sgt. Terry M. Lisk
Army Spec. Brittany Gordon Army Spec. Brittany Gordon
LAKELAND, FL (WFLA) -

On May 7, 2004, Ronnie Payne and his wife, Aileen lost their son, Cpl. Ron Payne, Jr. in Afghanistan. He was a U.S. Marine.  As part of their healing process, the Payne's began reaching out to other families who lost their sons or daughters in the war on terror.  Over the past eight years they have honored 42 families from all across America and as far away as Connecticut and Rhode Island.

Today the Paynes, Pastor Shane Skelton of the Calvary Baptist church in Lakeland and other members of the community, honored the sacrifice of Army Spec. Brittany Gordon from St. Petersburg, Florida who was killed in action on October 13, 2012.  Gordon's father is the Assistant Police Chief of the St. Petersburg Police Department.  Also, Staff Sgt. Bryan Berky, U.S. Air Force who was killed in action on September 12, 2009 in Afghanistan and Army Sgt. Terry M. Lisk who was killed in action on June 26, 2006 in Iraq.

Cedric Gordon, Brittany's father said of his daughter,  "She was a wonderful young girl, young lady, who loved her country.  She loved being in the military, she loved her fellow soldiers, and she loved her family."  "You know, we hear the slogan, freedom's not really free.  We hear that all the time.  But, we take it for granted.  I think too often, times, we take it for granted.  A day like today really puts it in perspective." said Cedric Gordon.

Steve Fleming, Sgt. Terry Lisk's stepfather remembers Lisk's death, "It seems like it was yesterday, even though it was almost seven years ago.  Seems like yesterday, to us.  The hole gets smaller but it never closes."

Sgt. Major Doyle Braddy, U.S. Marine Corps Retired performed a final roll call.  Lake Region High School J.R.O.T.C. presented the colors.  Army Chaplain Captain Kevin Winemiller was the key note speaker. A choir sang patriotic music.  "Dinner on the Grounds" also took place after the service where everyone was invited to eat and reflect on the hero's who gave so much for our freedom.

Sonya Berky, Staff Sgt. Bryan Berky's mother appreciates services like today,  "It's just nice to know that people do remember the fallen.  It's not a six month thing, it's a battle that the families fight every day.  Getting out of bed some days is difficult..."  "These services are wonderful.  And knowing that our kids names will always be said, if nothing else, one weekend a year people will remember our children.

The remembrance took place Sunday morning at the Calvary Baptist church in Lakeland.

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