COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL) — As we begin Memorial Day Weekend, we want to make sure we pause to remember what the holiday is about.

WRBL’s Chuck Williams recently sat down with two retired command sergeants major to talk about service, sacrifice, and remembering the fallen. Chuck joins us now.

Jeff Mellinger and Curt Arnold combine for nearly 70 years of service in the United States Army.

They know what the ultimate sacrifice looks like. They have seen it – and lived to tell about.

Listen to how they plan to remember the fallen on Monday.

Reporter: People like you will raise a glass that day. You’ll get a shot — and it’s usually Jack Daniel’s; I’ve never understood why it is Jack Daniel’s — but there’s a shot to remember. Will each of y’all raise a shot on Monday?

Arnold: “Yeah, absolutely.”

Mellinger: “Yeah, I probably will. I usually do. And it’s a private thing. You know, if you look at that memorial behind us for the Global War on Terrorism, there’s 7,058 names on those walls – 7,058.”

Reporter: And both of you all knew a chunk of those names that …

Arnold: “Nineteen of my former soldiers on that wall.

Mellinger: “Yeah. “And in my time as the Multinational Force Iraq Sergeant Major, 2,614 of those died on my watch. We think about them and we’ll think about them on Memorial Day. And that’s what that day is about, to make sure that we never forget what they did for us.”

Arnold remembered one of those 19 soldiers.

“When I was a 1st sergeant, years ago, I had a kid named Jason Paton, from San Diego, Calif., who had the most infectious smile and laughter. This kid was the typical blond-haired, blue-eyed surfer boy from California. You know, me being of course, from Florida, we had a little bit of a rivalry. He was my gunner. So, we would always give each other a hard time about where the best waves were ..I’d actually just left to go to the Sergeants Major Academy and I get word that the the scout team was in a helicopter crash last night. So, 10 of them went down and Jason Paton was one of those kids. And if you’d met him, I’m telling you, he’d have us all rolling right now because he’d given us all he’d be calling Jeff and I, old man, and probably be calling you old man, too. But yeah, I think about that kid every day.”

There was one question I wanted to ask both of them.

Reporter: Do you ever say: Why me? How did I survive?

Jeff Mellinger/Retired Command Sergeant Major

“All the time. All the time.”

“Every time the smoke would clear after something, you kind of take stock of the situation, you see who’s where, and what shape they are in. Later when you have time – you don’t have time then – but later when you do have time, I think it’s natural to wonder why them and not us, why him and not me, why none of us. When somebody else could have been in an identical situation and not walked away. You have to scratch your head. And just wonder. And be thankful we are in a place where we can live a life to honor these people back here.”

Curt Arnold/Retired Command Sergeant Major

“I feel he same way. I often think back to an early day in October 2006. As you know, the spaghetti bowl – it was an intersection of two major highways there in Baghdad. Rolled up on a convoy that had broken down. They had no communications. Their radios were not working. Again, we rolled two trucks and everybody thought we were these cowboys out there. What are these four guys doing out here by themselves? Rolled up there Pulled up to the lead truck and I am talkin to the convoy commander. And he’s telling me he has an issue here. ‘Truck broke down. Got no commo.’ OK, let’s get you radios set. And, as we are working on that, the other Humvee right in front of me. There was a kid gunning that truck named Satieon Greenlee. Young PFC, 4-3-1 Polar Bears out of Fort Drum. They had just gotten into country. And a Baghdad sniper shot him right through the temple. My medic and I were working on this kid. We threw him in my truck … He didn’t survive. And I have often thought of all of us who were out there, why that kid? Why was he the one who was picked? Why not me?

The entire interview will be available on News 3 Sunday Morning beginning at 8.