Cortez native Sgt. 1st Class Will Lindsay was honored and remembered Saturday in an emotional memorial service at New Life Church in Colorado Springs.
A Green Beret based at Fort Carson, Lindsay was killed a few weeks ago in combat operations in the Kunduz province of Afghanistan, along with a fellow Fort Carson soldier from Ohio. He was 33 years old.
“Will would not want us to be sad or shed a tear, or in his words, ‘be all poopy about things,’” said Lindsay’s brother, Levi, at the ceremony. “Instead, he would want us to ‘Endure fort,’ our family motto, which means endure with strength. For it is not goodbye, only ‘See you later.’”
The hourlong ceremony was marked by prayers, speeches and military honors and recognitions. Lindsay was given a Silver Star, and the Army Special Forces Honor Guard doled out flags to Lindsay’s family.
His friends and family joked about his love of Scotch and Copenhagen chew, and especially spoke of his devotion as a husband and father, building custom bunk beds, teaching his four daughters to bake, and watching countless Disney movies.
Andy Lord, a retired soldier who previously served in Lindsay’s Special Forces unit, spoke to Lindsay directly.
“As you look down on us today, I want you to know that we will always be there for your family,” Lord said. “And every chance we get, we will remind your daughters that you were a hero who sacrificed your life saving others. I love you, brother.”
Will Lindsay’s life in CortezIn Cortez on Saturday, American flags waved gently in front of storefronts lining Main Street. Small flags planted in the grass surrounded The Flower Cottage, a block away on North Market Street. The shop was founded in 1950 by Lindsay’s grandfather, Dick Lindsay, a World War II Navy veteran who continues to deliver flowers. Lindsay’s parents, Grant and Tammy Lindsay, now own and run the shop.
Will Duston Lindsay was born on Aug. 26, 1985.
He was a “true Colorado native,” according to his obituary.
“Will loved to hunt and fish, and he liked to work with his hands, building projects around his house and finishing their basement all by himself,” the obituary reads. “When he wasn’t busy with work, family, or his other hobbies, he shamed friends on the golf course with his mid-70s game.”
Bobby Sitton, an eighth-grade teacher at Cortez Middle School, was his youth soccer coach for about four or five years when Lindsay was heading into his teens. He recalled Lindsay as being “a natural leader” and full of heart.
“Just a neat young man,” Sitton told The Journal. “Anything I asked him to do, he was eager to be the first one to start it, lead a drill, be a team captain for a day. Whatever was asked, he was on top of things.”
Lindsay graduated from Montezuma-Cortez High School in 2004 and joined the Army immediately after, enlisting on July 7 that same year, according to his obituary and a statement released by the U.S. Army Special Operations Command. After he trained and finished Basic Airborne School at Fort Benning, Georgia, Lindsay completed the Special Forces Qualification Course and was assigned to the 10th Special Forces Group in July 2006.
So in 2006, Lindsay moved to Fort Carson, the home base for the 10th Special Forces Group. Four years later, he married Sarah Unger, the “love of his life,” according to his obituary. The two had four daughters.
“Sarah and their daughters were the center of Will’s world,” the obituary reads. “He was a devoted husband, a dedicated father, and a generous, trustworthy and reliable friend.”
Over the course of his 15 years of service, Lindsay deployed seven times, according to the obituary. Five of these deployments were to Iraq, one was to Tajikistan in support of a counter-narcotics mission, and the final one was to Afghanistan.
His military awards and decorations include the Bronze Star Medal with four Oak Leaf Clusters, a Purple Heart, the NATO Medal, the Special Forces Tab, the Combat Infantryman Badge, the Military Free Fall Jumpmaster Badge, the Master Parachutist Badge and the Chilean Airborne Wings, according to the U.S. Army Special Operations Command.
The Department of Defense announced Lindsay’s death on Saturday, March 23, the day after the department said he died.
“The 10th SFG (A) Family is deeply saddened at the loss of Sgt. 1st Class Will Lindsay,” Col. Lawrence Ferguson, 10th Group commander said in a news release emailed to The Journal. “Will was one of the best in our formation, with more than a decade of service in the Regiment at all levels of noncommissioned officer leadership. We will focus now on supporting his Family and honoring his legacy and sacrifice.”
Lindsay was not the only American soldier who died in combat operations that day. Spc. Joseph P. Collette, 29, of Lancaster, Ohio, was another casualty of Operation Freedom’s Sentinel.
“Both soldiers died March 22 in Kunduz Province, Afghanistan, as a result of wounds sustained while engaged in combat operations,” the DOD said in their announcement. “The incident is under investigation.”
Community reactionUpon learning of Lindsay’s death, officials in both Cortez and Mancos ordered that flags be flown at half-staff in his honor.
“Will’s death is heartbreaking for this community and a terrible tragedy for his family,” Cortez Mayor Karen Sheek said in an email to The Journal. “How does one adequately express condolences for such a loss? His family, both those here and in Colorado Springs, are in our thoughts and prayers, and we stand ready to support them in any way we can.”
Flags were also placed along Main Street in Lindsay’s honor.
State governors and the U.S. president are usually the ones to issue the order to lower flags to half-staff. Initially, neither President Donald Trump nor Colorado Gov. Jared Polis issued the order, but local officials made an exception in this case, also lobbying the governor’s office to make the call.
On Tuesday, April 2, Polis did so.
“Gov. Jard Polis today ordered the United States and Colorado flags be lowered to half-staff statewide on all state owned facilities from sunrise on Wednesday, April 3, 2019, until sunset on Tuesday, April 9, 2019, in honor of the passing of U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Will Lindsay,” the governor’s office announced.
Another memorial service is expected to take place in Cortez at a future date, according to his obituary.