Showing 122 posts tagged memorial
Dragon Lady acts as canvas for last respects.
 A beach setting is drawn in colored chalk on a U-2 Dragon Lady at an undisclosed location in Southwest Asia Aug. 13, 2013. The artwork was in memory of U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Suzzett Stalesky, a member of the U-2 family who passed away from cancer. The beach signified Stalesky’s love of summer.
 U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Alejandro Ruiz, 99th Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron, physiological support division technician, stands next to a memorial dedication to U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Suzzett Stalesky. Ruiz was close friends with Stalesky and had known her for more than six years.
 U.S. Air Force Maj. Daniel, 99th Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron, lands a U-2 Dragon Lady after a memorial flight honoring the passing of U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Suzzett Stalesky.
 A U-2 Dragon Lady sits on the flightline after landing from a memorial flight with chalk art to honor U.S. Staff Sgt. Suzzett Stalesky.
 U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Suzzett Stalesky, 9th Physiological Support Squadron and U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Alejandro Ruiz, 99th Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron, physiological support division technician, pose in front of the Golden Gate bridge in early 2013. Stalesky passed away from cancer on Aug. 7, 2013. Ruiz and Stalesky had been close friends since meeting at their first duty station six years ago.
(Photos and article by Staff Sergeant Joshua Garcia, 30 AUG 2013. Modified and edited by R. Etzweiler, 8 AUG 2014.)
There is a longstanding tradition in aviation culture of paying respects to the dead with a Missing Man Formation or other aerial flyover.
Several members of the 99th Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron practiced this tradition by honoring U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Suzett “Suzy” Stalesky, physiological support division technician, with a memorial flight at an undisclosed location in Southwest Asia on Aug. 12, 2013.
To honor Stalesky, 99th ERS flew a U-2 Dragon Lady decorated with chalk art. Each piece of art had a special meaning; the beach setting to show Stalesky’s love for summer time, the American flag showing her love of country and military service, and the PSD van representing her role in the U-2 community. The flight held extra meaning for one member of the 99th ERS whose friendship with Stalesky spanned most of his military career.
"I have known Suzett since my first duty station. Since then, it’s like we followed each other," said U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Alejandro Ruiz, 99th Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron, physiological support division technician. "She was like a sister to me."
Ruiz met Stalesky after arriving at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas. They soon became friends and would end up living together for a better part of six years spanning two different bases. ”The longest time we spent separated from each other was six months,” said Ruiz. “It was only because she was deployed to Korea.”
Ruiz moved to California after his tour at Sheppard AFB; a month later, Stalesky followed. Stalesky bought a house in the local area and Ruiz had been renting a room from her ever since. ”People always thought [our relationship] was crazy or there was something there between us. But it was really a genuine sibling love.”
The two deployed for the first time together in December 2011 to the 380th Air Expeditionary Wing, where they both gained a greater respect for their jobs and how they directly affect the mission. Ruiz said Stalesky was the model Airman, big on standards, customs and courtesies, and getting the job done efficiently.
Ruiz was on his second tour at the 380th AEW when he got word of Stalesky’s medical diagnosis. He was in constant contact with her until her passing Aug. 7, 2013.
"I know she hears me, I know she watches over me, and I know she wants me to be happy," said Ruiz. "She was someone special; she was the only consistent thing I had once I joined the military." Although deployed, Ruiz was able to view the memorial service for Stalesky held on Aug. 11, 2013 at Beale AFB via the internet.
"First thing I saw was the casket with the American flag draped over it," said Ruiz. "That was the hardest thing. That’s when it felt real." Ruiz said the set up for the memorial was very elegant, with a U-2 as the backdrop. Enlarged photos of Stalesky were on display with flower arrangements, and the casket and podium upfront center stage of it all.
The memorial flight for Stalesky was flown in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. The flight held special meaning to the pilot who worked with Stalesky in Korea. ”It was an honor to fly the jet in memorial to Staff Sergeant Stalesky,” said U.S. Air Force Maj. Daniel, 99th ERS. “She was one of the most professional and positive Airmen I’ve ever had the privilege to work with.”
Along with the 99th ERS, all Dragon Lady detachments as well as the home unit flew memorial missions for Stalesky. Along with the memorial flight, Ruiz and his co-workers honored his friend in another manner.
"I just found out that I made staff, so I flew a set of stripes on the mission," said Ruiz. "To me, her name will always be in my stripes."
With safety being a big topic on any flightline, the PSD shop all wore specially designed safety belts with “In Loving Memory Suzzett Stalesky” written on them.
"It’s sad that she passed, she was so young, but I know she is out there looking down and she loved the artwork and everything," said Ruiz. "Every time I catch myself smiling I know she is up there smiling with me."
Death waits in the dark.
A formation of MH-60M Black Hawks from the 1st Battalion, 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne) perform a ceremonial Missing Man flyover of the Night Stalker Memorial during the annual Week of Night Stalker Activities Memorial Ceremony held at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. The ceremony was held to honor fallen Night Stalkers of the regiment and their families.
(U.S. Army photo by Maj. Allen Hill, 160th SOAR Public Affairs, 21 MAY 2014.)
Unknown but never forgotten.
 The Memorial Amphitheater at the Tomb of the Unknown, Arlington National Cemetery, Virginia.
[2,3] Soldiers assigned to the 3rd Infantry Regiment, The Old Guard, conduct a change of guard at the Tomb of the Unknown. Here, the soldiers port their arms during the ceremony.
[4,5,6] The Tomb of the Unknown has been guarded around the clock for more than three quarters of a century, specifically since 1937, and since 1948 by members of the 3rd Inf. Regiment’s Old Guard regardless of the weather conditions.
(National Guard photos by Staff Sgt. Joseph Rivera Rebolledo, Puerto Rico National Guard Public Affairs Office, 15 NOV 2013.)
A memorial spraypainted on a Spooky’s rotor in remembrance for a fallen member of the 1st Special Operations Wing.
(Photo by Master Sergeant Jeremy Lock, 27 JAN 2011.)
SOLDIER STORIES: A vile act of terrorism.
Marine commander remembers Beirut bombing. (Article by Hope Hodge Seck, Marine Corps Times staff writer, 20 OCT 2013. Source.)
Retired Marine Col. Timothy Geraghty still remembers in crisp detail the events of Oct. 23, 1983: the shockwaves that shattered the glass windows in his office, the color of the thick ash that hung in the air afterward.
Geraghty was the commanding officer of the 24th Marine Amphibious Unit out of Camp Lejeune, N.C., whose battalion landing team 1st Battalion, 8th Marines, took most of the casualties when a truck laden with explosives crashed through the perimeter of the Marines’ barracks complex in Beirut, Lebanon, and detonated. In all, 220 Marines and 21 other U.S. service members were killed. An attack on a French military barracks minutes later killed more than 70 French troops.
Now 76, Geraghty sees the terrorist attack on the U.S. peacekeeping mission in Beirut as the beginning of an era of international terrorism — one that many would fail to recognize until Sept. 11, 2001, when another terrorist attack struck the World Trade Center in New York. On the 30th anniversary of the Beirut barracks bombings, he said vigilance continues to be crucial to American security, and the selfless service of the Marines who perished in Beirut continues to inspire him.
Geraghty said he had been going over his daily schedule on that early Sunday morning when the bomb went off.
“I thought we had been hit with a Scud missile,” he remembered. “I went outside. My ears were ringing. Heavy gray ash, you couldn’t see the hand in front of your face. The Marine who was with me said, ‘God, the BLT building is gone.’”
Official investigations would later reveal that the explosion was the largest non-nuclear blast in history up to that point, Geraghty said, equivalent to 21,000 pounds of TNT.
The suicide bomber who attacked the Marine barracks was an Iranian national, and the attack was found to have been orchestrated by Iranian and Syrian extremists. What emerged in the wake of the bombings, Geraghty said, was that the the attack wasn’t an isolated incident but a carefully coordinated act of violence that targeted the peacekeepers for what they stood for.
“That was one of the most vile acts of terrorism in history up to that point,” Geraghty said. “It started a murderous new era of international terrorism.”
In the aftermath of the bombing, the investigations subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee released a report fingering Geraghty as guilty of “various serious errors in judgment” that left the 1/8 compound vulnerable to attack. Though then-President Ronald Reagan stepped forward to say that any blame for the attack rested with his office, Geraghty would ultimately resign in the wake of the tragedy.
“You deal with it and own up,” Geraghty said. “The point of it is, as a commanding officer, you know right away: I’m responsible. It goes with the turf.”
Nonetheless, he said, it was worth asking the question: Have the last 30 years made us less vulnerable to terrorist attacks of this magnitude?
Geraghty testified before the House Committee on Homeland Security in 2011 about the Iranian government’s continued support of terrorist activity around the globe and the continued interest from Iranian political leaders, many of whom have ties to the 1983 bombings, in attacking the American homeland.
“There’s been a lot of things stopped,” Geraghty said. “But the question is, how long can you stop someone who has this kind of determination?”
Geraghty, a Phoenix resident, will spend the 30th anniversary of the attacks near Lejeune in Jacksonville, home to the official Beirut Memorial. He’ll attend a candlelight vigil at dawn and join Marine Corps commandant Gen. Jim Amos in giving an address.
SOLDIER STORIES: Marine makes “A Walk to Remember.”
(Article by Marine Corps Times staff writer Hope Hodge Seck, 12 SEP 2013. Source.)
It’s not a monument or an elaborate fundraiser, just a personal journey of remembrance.
As the 30th anniversary of the deadly Oct. 23, 1983, bombings in Beirut, Lebanon, draws close, former Marine sergeant Paul “Doc” Doolittle is preparing to embark on a 273-mile walk in honor of the peacekeeping Americans killed in the attack. In all, 220 Marines and 21 other U.S. service members were killed when terrorists drove trucks laden with explosives into their barracks buildings.
Doolittle was stationed in Beirut as an embassy security guard in July 1985, shortly after the barracks attack and two separate bombings of U.S. embassy buildings in 1983 and 1984.
“It was the hottest ticket in the world to be assigned there,” he recalled, saying the danger of the post made it appealing to young and adventurous Marines. But, he said, “serving there was quite challenging. There were several car bombings around the area; several hostages taken.”
Still, it wasn’t until years later that Doolittle would meet and befriend the wife and sister of two Marines killed in the 1983 attacks and his understanding of the Beirut tragedy would become more personal.
“It makes it a little more real,” he said. “Not enough people know that this took place. I’d like the nation to stand still and remember on the 23rd.”
In 2008, Doolittle made his first attempt at a walk for remembrance, covering 246 miles in and around Jacksonville, N.C., where the official Beirut memorial stands. This year, the burly 52-year-old Boy Scout leader from Centennial, Colo., is planning to cover 273 miles — one for each of the names etched on the memorial. Those names include troops killed in the 1983 bombings, those who died later as a result of injuries sustained in the attack, and three Marine pilots killed in Grenada the same year.
He’ll start Oct. 1 Swansboro, N.C., about 20 miles outside of Jacksonville. The plan is to cover about 12 miles a day, finishing the walk at the memorial on Oct. 23. He’s not soliciting donations, but he’s offering supporters bright-orange T-shirts commemorating the walk for $20 apiece, and will give $10 from each sale to the Veterans Day Memorial Tribute in Denver, Colo.
A Facebook group created to promote the walk already has nearly 300 supporters [as of 13 SEP that number was over 600], and Doolittle said some may join him on the journey.
At 30 years, Doolittle said it was more important than ever to raise awareness about the bombings and the sacrifice hundreds of peacekeeping troops had made.
“The parents of those Marines (killed in the bombings) are in their late 70s to early 80s,” he said. “It’s likely that this could be a last memorial for some of those families. So a generation then turns.”
As for why Doolittle feels personally called to walk, it’s not just because of his tour in Beirut or in honor of his Marine son, currently serving in Okinawa, Japan on the Unit Deployment Program.
“It really just comes down to two words,” Doolittle said, his voice breaking. “Semper fidelis.”
Flashback Friday: Sixty years later.
Retired Army Colonel William Webber, 87, was a young lieutenant with prior enlisted service during World War II when he deployed in 1950 to Korea. Though he lost an arm and leg during the Korean War, said he’s proud of what he and his fellow Korean War veterans accomplished and what those who have served in South Korean ever since have preserved.
(Article by Donna Miles of American Forces Press Service, 26 JUL 2013.)
WASHINGTON - With plans to participate in ceremonies here tomorrow marking the 60th anniversary of the Korean War armistice agreement, a veteran who lost two limbs in the conflict said he’s proud of what thousands who fought there accomplished — and what those who followed in their footsteps have preserved.
Retired Army Col. William Webber was a young lieutenant when he arrived in Korea with the 187th Airborne Regiment Combat Team in August 1950, joining U.S. Marines on the ground in the bloody Battle of Seoul.
Five months after his deployment, Webber was severely wounded — first by a strike that claimed his arm shortly before midnight on Feb. 15, 1951, and another attack several hours later that took his leg. He was evacuated to an Army hospital in Tokyo to be stabilized before his transfer to the Percy Jones Army Hospital in Battle Creek, Mich., one of three military facilities that specialized in amputee care.
Now approaching his 88th birthday, Webber still vividly recalls the frustration of prolonged ceasefire negotiations that started shortly after he medically evacuated from Korea dragged on for two years before the armistice was reached.
Half of the casualties of the war — in which 36,574 U.S. troops died and another 103,284 were wounded — occurred as the talks languished, Webber noted.
"It was a travesty of common sense on the part of the communists," he said. "They are the ones who delayed it because of demands they made and the hope that they could achieve politically what they couldn’t achieve militarily."
Even today, 60 years after the United Nations, North Korea and China signed the armistice agreement, Webber expressed disappointment that the final peace treaty that was to follow within 60 days never materialized.
That has left the two Koreas still technically at war, and Webber expressed dismay over North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s public nullification of the armistice earlier this year.
Yet Webber is quick to note the significance of what he called “a significant benchmark of the 20th century.”
"It was a catalyst that began the downfall of the attempt of communism to dominate the world," he said.
Webber, who served in World War II as well as Korea, sees a common thread.
"I like to remind people that World War II saved the world for democracy. Korea saved it from communism," he said. "That is where we drew a line in the sand as a free world, and indicated that we would not allow armed aggression to conquer a free people. And since that time, it never has. The world took a stance and it worked."
Yet like many of his Korean War comrades, Webber said, he remains perplexed that it remains known as “the Forgotten War.”
"If you look at history books that teach children about American history, it is a three-paragraph war," he said. Most of what’s written focuses not on the war itself, but on the controversy between then-President Harry S. Truman and Gen. Douglas MacArthur, he noted. Truman fired MacArthur as commander of U.N. military forces in South Korea in April 1951.
The United States was preoccupied during the Korean War, Webber said, still reveling as troops home from World War II went to school, re-entered the job market and settled down to start families. “It was la-la land,” he said.
The last thing most Americans wanted at the time was the distraction of another foreign war, particularly one that initially started as a “police action,” he said.
Yet that police action escalated. At the height of the war, about a half-million U.S., United Nations and South Korean forces found themselves arrayed against 1.5 million Chinese and North Korean forces.
"Nowhere during World War II did American forces ever face as many enemies in such a short frontage as in Korea," Webber said. "It was the bloodiest foreign war in terms of the percentage of casualties we have ever fought."
Webber rattled off statistics to back up his claim: The chance of those serving being killed or wounded during World War I was 1 in 22; during World War II, 1 in 12; in Vietnam, 1 in 17.
"If you went to Korea, you stood one chance in nine of being killed or wounded," he said. "American [service members] died at the average rate of 1,000 a month and were wounded at the rate of 3,000 a month for 36 continuous months on a peninsula that was only 160 miles wide."
To help honor that sacrifice, Webber served nine years on the the presidentially appointed advisory board that led to the dedication of the Korean War Veterans Memorial on Washington’s National Mall in 1995.
The memorial features 19 seven-foot-tall stainless steel soldiers on patrol, the wind blowing their ponchos as they move across the landscape.
But to Webber, who chairs the Korean War Veterans Memorial Foundation, the memorial honors those who served in Korea, but not who made the ultimate sacrifice. He and many other Korean War veterans hope to one day erect a glass remembrance wall that lists those who died in the conflict.
"The American people have never been told the cost of that freedom [won in Korea]. Well, it is 36,574 dead and 103,284 wounded in 36 months of continuous, unbroken combat," Webber said. "You won’t find anything like that anywhere in America’s history of foreign wars."
Visiting South Korea for the first time since the war in 2002, Webber said he has no doubt that the sacrifices have paid off.
"I saw firsthand the amazing things the [South] Koreans have done with the freedom that we have enabled them to have," he said. "A population and a nation that was decimated has become the 12th-largest economy in the world."
Webber said he remains struck by the gratitude the South Korean people continue to show for those who came to their defense.
He noted, for example, the ongoing Korea Revisit Program, paid for by the South Korean government, which provides Korean War veterans free hotel rooms, meals and tours of Korea.
"It’s an unbelievable thing, the respect and admiration they have for Americans and their U.N. counterparts because of what they did to save their country," he said.
With the average Korean War veteran now 84 years old, and the population declining by about 700 a day, Webber said, America’s memory of the Korean War is likely to fade as well.
Even after tomorrow’s commemoration, expected to draw thousands of the half-million living Korean veterans to the National Mall, Webber is pragmatic about what will follow.
"I predict with certainty that right after the 27th of July, the Korean War will fall back into the cracks of history again,” he said.
What will keep it alive, he said, is the legacy left by those who fought in the Korean War and of the service of those who have continued to defend South Korea during the past six decades.
Since the signing of the armistice, North Korean attacks have killed 100 U.S. and more than 450 South Korean troops.
Today, 28,500 U.S. forces continue to serve in South Korea, standing shoulder-to-shoulder with their South Korean counterparts to provide security on the peninsula.
"They are trip wires," Webber said. Even with the South Korean Army now holding the demilitarized zone created by the armistice agreement, "the Americans are there, so the North Koreans know that if anything started, the United States would be involved," he said.
Together, they continue to demonstrate the commitment Webber and his fellow Korean War veterans made six decades ago, he said.
"You can take a good, hard look at what Korea is today and realize that, at one part of our history, we were responsible for that happening. We saved a free people and kept them free and gave them an opportunity to take advantage of their innate ability to progress as a nation," Webber said.
"One can’t possibly look at the South Korea of today without accepting the fact that what we did there was justified and necessary," he said. "So you tell me: Why is it an unknown war in the id of American culture?"
Remembrance for the Fallen.
Hawaiian lei decorate the stone memorial dedicated to the service members who sacrificed their lives in Operation Red Wings. Service members and family members based in Hawaii commemorated the 8th anniversary of the event that claimed the lives of 11 SEALs and eight soldiers from the U.S. Army 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne) in Afghanistan’s Hindu Kush during the operation by completing a five-mile formation run.
(Photos by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Diana Quinlan, 28 JUN 2013.)