Members of the 412th Test Wing and Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., community gathered to honor the 13 teammates who have passed away this year with a memorial service, Aug. 28, 2020.
The 13 Edwards AFB personnel: Rachelle Addario, Senior Airman Cody B. Chrisman, Kenneth Correnti, Billie Hampton, Leroy Hugges, Airman 1st Class Corey D. Jones, Jr., Brian Martinez, Marlon Scott, Warren Seidel, Lea Stoebling, Richard Talamantez, Senior Airman Timo J. Timoteo, and Staff Sgt. Kylle J. White, were honored each with a bouquet of flowers and a flag folding presentation on stage at the base theater.
“There’s an Airman and a story behind each one of these arrangements; the characters, the details and the timelines of each of these stories are different, but the idea of someone serving something bigger than themselves exists in each and everyone one,” said Command Chief Master Sgt. Ian Eishen, 412th Test Wing Command Chief. “Today we are here to remember these Airmen, we are their students. Tomorrow, all of must transition and become their storytellers so that their stories and these Airmen live forever.”
The memorial was broadcast live throughout the base due to COVID-19 protection conditions. The unforeseen impact of the COVID-19 pandemic earlier in the year affected plans for individual memorial services before social distancing and gathering guidelines were established.
“One of the biggest negative impacts on the healing process of human loss is proper and timely funeral service and memorials of our loved ones so we can properly grieve and begin the emotional and physical recovery process,” said Dan Osburn, 412th Test Wing technical cirector.
Osburn said that due to his long tenure at Edwards, he had known a few of those that passed away personally.
“I’ve been at Edwards for over two decades and several of our Airmen losses were great coworkers and friends of mine; some were young and new to Edwards and I’d not had the privilege to get know as well…but all of them had a dedication to our nation and were connected to Team Edwards,” Osburn said.
Brig. Gen. Matthew Higer, the 412th Test Wing commander, encouraged those in attendance to use the memory of those lost as motivation to continue to find ways to increase connections to each other and help each other to heal from these losses.
“I could not be more proud to have worked with, and for, these amazing Airmen,” Higer said. “I am confident these lost Airmen would want us to move forward and continue the work that they have devoted so much of their lives to. I am also confident that they would want us to heal, both individually and heal as groups of humans from the wounds of their loss.”
Higer also encouraged his team to not let the COVID-19 pandemic overcome their healing process, but rather be mindful of the threat and take the opportunity to strengthen relationships and connections.
“I am highly confident they would not want us, in these moments of grief, to be isolated. So in their honor, let’s all leave this ceremony today, in their honor, vigilant. Vigilant to the real risk of further loss and death due to this virus,” Higer added. “We’re all here for each other, as they were here for us.”