May 24, 2012

Defenders remember fallen brothers

by Airman 1st Class Grace Lee
56th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

An annual security forces retreat ceremony occurred May 17 at the Luke Air Force Base flag pole, in memory of  the 18 Airmen who lost their lives May 15, 1975.

Many may not know or fully understand the history of the Mayaguez incident and why even 37 years later it still lingers within the thoughts of the 56th Security Forces Squadron.

For Senior Airman Stephanie Harp, 56th SFS unit training manager, knowing the history is very important.

“It’s vital to know about the Mayaguez history because it’s part of who the 56th SFS is today,” Harp said. “It’s important to know where you came from.”

The Mayaguez incident, also known as the last official battle of the Vietnam War, took place from May 12 to 15, 1975. The SS Mayaguez, an American merchant ship, was captured by the Khmer Rouge, which sparked an American military response. In all of 56th SFS history, May 15, 1975, is remembered as the darkest day. Before the SS Mayaguez was captured, it was sailing from Hong Kong to Sattahip, Thailand. Eighteen Airmen and Marines were killed or missing in the attack and withdrawal from Kho-Tang.

President Gerald Ford tried negotiating with the Khmer Rouge. After this failed, he prompted a rescue operation, which resulted in the deaths of 41 Americans, including 18 Airmen and Marines. Forty-four others were wounded and three went missing in action. Eventually the 39 men of the Mayaguez were found at tiny Kach Island, where they were freed. By noon the Mayaguez crewmen were back aboard their ship.

That day will always be remembered by Airmen as one of the most tragic days in 56th SFS history, but even through loss, Airmen continue to push forward with the Air Force mission.

“Those Airmen were our fellow defenders, who volunteered to protect and rescue U.S. personnel without hesitation, said Tech. Sgt. Kelly Speaks, 56th SFS NCO in-charge of training. “Their sacrifice reminds us all to put our game face on and take charge everyday to represent and protect the 56th Fighter Wing.”

In conjunction with the Mayaguez anniversary, Luke Air Forces Base and the 56th SFS took part in National Police Week, which recognizes the service and sacrifice of U.S. law enforcement. Airmen from the squadron planned various activities for the community to take part in including a police department demonstration, a car wash, a “Refuse to be a Victim” seminar, Children’s Safety Awareness program, and a golf tournament.

The efforts of the 56th SFS did not go unnoticed. They gave the community further understanding of their history, where they came from, and who they are today.

“We are all extremely proud to be a part of this heroic unit, which has such an exceptional display of service before self,” Speaks said.

All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.



2015 Chapel Holy Week Schedule

March 28 Palm Sunday Vigil Catholic 5 p.m. (Luke Community Chapel) March 29 Palm Sunday Catholic 8:30 a.m. (Luke Community Chapel) Gospel/Contemporary 10 a.m. (Luke Community Chapel) Traditional 11:30 a.m. (Luke Community Chapel) Catholic 5:30 pm (Chapel on the Mall) April 1 Sedar meal Ecumenical 6 p.m. (Luke Community Chapel Annex) April 2 Holy Thursday Catholic...
Courtesy photo

AF trials underway for 2015 Warrior Games

Courtesy photo Timothy Babb takes a breath during a swimming practice session Feb. 27 at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada. The Air Force Trials are an adaptive sports event designed to promote the mental and physical well-being of...

Luke takes field, above and below

Courtesy photo Chief Master Sgt. John Mazza, 56th Fighter Wing command chief, Brig. Gen. Scott Pleus, 56th FW commander, Chief Master Sgt. Shane Clark, 162nd Fighter Wing Air National Guard, and Maj. Gen. Michael McGuire, adjut...


Games heat up winter Dec. 8 – 11 …

Day 2: Airmen from the 56th Security Forces Squadron push a Humvee 50 yards Dec. 9 during the Luke Air Force Base Winter Games Dec. 8 through 11. The goal was to push the Humvee in the least amount of time.   Day 3: Staff ...

2014 Holiday Magic — Good time had by all

Zoey Bruno, 3, daughter of Maj. Matt Bruno, 56th Operations Support Squadron chief of Intel, plays with snow Dec. 5 during Holiday Magic in the Club Five Six parking lot at Luke Air Force Base. The Holiday Magic and Christmas t...

ANG invites Luke Airmen, families to historic muster

PHOENIX – The Arizona National Guard, as part of its first-ever community open house, is scheduled to muster in a mass military formation on the field at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe at 11 a.m. Sunday — and everyone is invited. The Arizona National Guard Muster and Community Expo will honor the service and sacrifice...


Be the first to comment!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Directory powered by Business Directory Plugin