In honor of our nation’s fallen military service members, U.S. Army Garrison and partner organizations hosted a Memorial Day Observance at the Post Cemetery Monday. More than 100 attendees were projected to attend the event which not only recognized the service of those who died, but ensured they would never be forgotten.
The Memorial Day Message was delivered by Maj. Gen. Robert Ashley, commanding general, U.S. Army Intelligence Center of Excellence and Fort Huachuca.
“Not just on Memorial Day but with each day, we should remember we owe our freedom to those men and women who have served this great nation. We are forever indebted to those who gave their lives, that we might be free,” he said. “This year marks a unique celebration, the 70th Anniversary of D-Day.”
Ashley shared the story of Charles DeGlopper, posthumous Medal of Honor recipient for his sacrifice of life and heroic actions during the Battle of Normandy and recognized other Medal of Honor awardees from past to present. He also highlighted the service of recent fallen Soldier, Command Sgt. Maj. Martin Barreras, 75th Ranger Regiment, who was laid to rest in Tucson last week.
Barreras was serving his last deployment in Afghanistan before his death. The command sergeant major is best known for his role in the 2003 rescue of Pvt. Jessica Lynch in Iraq.
“This Memorial Day we gather to honor those who have fallen and served our nation with the knowledge that all the service members who have died in combat have done so for the most selfless of reasons,” Ashley stated.
The observance included a wreath laying by Ashley and Command Sgt. Maj. Jeffery Fairley, USAICoE command sergeant major; Thea Chapman, Widowed Support Center secretary; and Laurie and Thomas Clark, Gold Star Family Members.
Francis H.J. MacDonnell, Sr., Veteran’s of Foreign War Post 9972 Sierra Vista judge advocate, presented the Reading of Grand Army of the Republic General Orders #11 as VFW Post members added their own Memorial Day decorations below the three hanging wreaths.
The observance concluded with a ceremonial gun salute by the Fort Huachuca Select Honor Guard and the playing of “Taps” by the Military Intelligence Corps Band, which also provided music for the ceremony.
Later in the afternoon and evening, two ceremonies were held off post to commemorate Memorial Day. Members of the Fort Huachuca and Sierra Vista community first gathered at the Southern Arizona Veterans’ Memorial Cemetery for the dedication of the newly-built Veterans’ Chapel.
According to Ingrid Baillie, South Arizona Veterans Memorial Cemetery Foundation president and Joe Larson, Southern Arizona Memorial Cemetery director, the facility will serve as a peaceful place for memorial services during inclement weather.
The project was funded through a variety of sponsors and local businesses. While the building structure received a plaque unveiling and ribbon cutting, its interior design is set to complete in June.
After the event, all attendees were invited to tour the facility. Among the distinguished guests who visited the chapel were Rick Mueller, Sierra Vista mayor, Ron Barber, Arizona congressman, and John McCain, U.S. senator. Ashley, his wife Barbara and Fairley were among the Fort Huachuca distinguished guests who visited the new building.
The concluding Memorial Day Ceremony, also taking place at the cemetery, was hosted by the Fort Huachuca-Sierra Vista Chapter Association of the United States Army. While McCain and Barber both provided remarks, Ted Vogt, Arizona Department of Veterans’ Services director served as main guest speaker.
Vogt reminded the estimated 200 attendees that the true meaning of Memorial Day should be kept alive and not over-looked by retail sales and the beginning of summertime activities.
“My wish for them as well as all of you is that we do something this year, and that is put ‘Memorial’ back in Memorial Day,” Vogt said. “The true cost of our freedoms are written on marble and granite markers in fields around this country and in other far-off lands. The true cost of our freedoms are hidden in unmarked graves, on fields where gun fire raged,” he added.
The evening Memorial Day Ceremony received community-wide participation which included the MI Corps Band and Fort Huachuca Select Honor Guard, 19 organizations presenting colors, and seven different supporting event participants.