Local

May 11, 2012

LaBar’s Beat

7th Annual Defending Freedom Dedication

By Ron LaBar

On May 5, 2012, the 7th Annual Defending Freedom Red Rock Memorial Dedication was held at the Visitors Center of the Red Rock National Conservation Area. There are now 84 names on the Memorial.

On May 5, 2012,  the 7th Annual Defending Freedom Red Rock Memorial Dedication was held at the Visitors Center of the Red Rock National Conservation Area.

The memorial was built in 2005 to honor the Nevada military members killed in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2001.  Their names are engraved in stone on the memorial.

My wife and I attended the ceremony for the first time this year.  A more beautiful setting would be hard to find, with the majestic multi-colored cliffs of the canyon as a backdrop.  Sunny and bright with just a hint of a cooling breeze, the weather was perfect, too.

The U.S. Marine Corps Color Guard presented the colors.  Behind us, carrying American flags, bikers from the Patriot Guard, Freedom Riders, Marine Corps League, American Legion, VFW and the Warrior Brotherhood stood at attention as the National Anthem was played.

Phil Randazzo of the Nevada Benefits Association, one of the founders of the memorial, and a recently appointed member of the Nevada Veterans Services Commission, served as master of ceremonies for the event.  Injecting a little humor into the otherwise serious ceremony, he poked gentle fun at the elected officials of both political parties that were present, calling himself “an equal opportunity hazer.”

On a serious note, Mr. Randazzo noted that he hoped “that this will be the last year that names are added to the stones.”

Mary Jo Ringwell, District Manager, and Tim Wakefield, Field Manager of the Bureau of Land Management , which oversees Red Rock, commented on the close working relationship between the BLM and Defending Freedom.

Congresswoman Shelly Berkley and Congressman Joe Heck also spoke.  Colonel Heck is a 22-year veteran of the Nevada Guard who served a tour in Iraq as a military doctor.  He and Ms. Berkley avowed strong support for the Memorial and fallen heroes that it honors.

U. S. Air Force Major Jose Cabrera, 58th Rescue Squadron , Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., related the story of “Pedro 66,” an HH-60 helicopter, which crashed on a rescue mission, killing all five aboard.

Five more names were added to the memorial last Saturday.  They were Army Sgt. Timothy Sayne, Army Sgt. Ken K. Hermogino, Army Spc. Dennis James Jr., Army Spc. Douglas J. Green, and Marine Corporal Jon-Luke Bateman.  There are now 84 names on the Memorial

Governor Brian Sandoval noted that very few States have honored their fallen heroes with memorials similar to Defending Freedom.  He said that wherever he goes in Nevada, from big – city Las Vegas to small towns like Tonopah and Dayton there is strong support for our troops.

In an example of our State’s support, he commented that he has been concerned for some time about the difficulties faced by military spouses in professional fields who face obstacles in obtaining employment when transferred to Nevada.  He cited licensing requirements as an example.  The governor said he will introduce an Executive Order giving job preferences to military spouses and reciprocity with other States on professional licensing.  (NOTE: Subject Executive Order was presented to Nevada Legislature, Monday, May 7,2012) When he produced a copy of the Executive Order, Mr. Randazzo asked “Why don’t you sign it here?”

After some banter, Governor Sandoval, apparently caught by surprise, signed the Executive Order, to the delight of the crowds.

The final, and most emotional part of the ceremony included an open forum for Nevada Gold Star Families and friends of the war dead.

A tearful lady described losing her son to a “virus” shortly after his return from Iraq.  A woman whose husband was killed in Vietnam described the difficult times she faced in a small town in Oregon.  She said there were no offers of help or sympathy and she was virtually “shunned” by her neighbors.  As she tearfully described it, “times were different then.”

They certainly were.  But thanks to people like Phil Randazzo and Governor Sandoval and our other elected officials and countless other patriotic Americans we remember and honor our fallen heroes.

If we have to have an 8th Annual Dedication next year, hope to see you there.  Or put another way, hope to NOT to have to see you there.



About the Author

Ron LaBar
Ron LaBar
If you have an article covering Veteran issues, Airmen who are doing something special in the Las Vegas community, or other human interest stories you'd like to see about and for our Nellis Airmen, just e-mail the Bullseye@aerotechnews.com and we will hook you up with Ron and he'll contact you.


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


 
 

 
U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jack Sanders

57th OSS integrates new ATC radar system

U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jack Sanders Staff Sgt. Christopher Beier, 57th Wing Air Traffic Controller, monitors radar activity on the newly installed Standard Terminal Automation Replacement System, or STARS, Oct. 15 a...
 
 
U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Siuta B. Ika

Open House to celebrate Nellis’ legacy of liberty

U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Siuta B. Ika Gary Nellis, son of the late 1st Lt. William Harrell Nellis, Nellis Air Force Base’s namesake, stands in front of memorabilia he has of his father at his home in Henderson, Nev....
 
 
U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Shad Eidson

799th SFS turns up heat, wins Fire Muster traveling trophy

U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Shad Eidson Members of the 432nd Wing Staff team fill a drum to complete the ‘Bucket Brigade’ final event during a fire muster challenge at Creech Air Force Base, Nev., Oct. 10. The 4th An...
 

 
U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Brittain Crolley

Seymour Johnson hosts latest round of Joint Aircrew Flight Equipment testing

U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Brittain Crolley Airman 1st Class Kyle Rogers (left), an Aircrew Flight Equipment specialist assigned to the 355th Operations Support Squadron at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., is ...
 
 
U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Charles Larkin Sr.

First sergeant provides health, welfare for warriors

U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Charles Larkin Sr. Master Sgt. Phelipe Salinas speaks to his athletes during the 2014 Warrior Games at the Garry Berry Stadium in Colorado Springs, Colo., Oct. 2. Salinas is the first sergean...
 
 
U.S. Air Force photograph by Airman 1st Class Rachel Loftis

Armory: A home for weapons

U.S. Air Force photograph by Airman 1st Class Rachel Loftis Senior Airman Jaime Romo, 99th Security Forces Squadron armorer, puts a M-240 rifle away after clearing the weapon at the 99th SFS armory at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev...
 




0 Comments


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