Tag Archives: memorial

Veterans Day: reflecting on service, Air Force Memorial

By Tech. Sgt. Karen J. Tomasik
Air Force Public Affairs Agency

Veterans Day is near and dear to my family since many family members have served this nation across several service branches. I’ve attended many ceremonies and services at various locations over the years, but there is a place I have yet to visit on a military holiday – the Air Force Memorial.

Why would I want to spend Veterans Day visiting the Air Force Memorial specifically? It’s because my daughters are finally old enough to notice the details of the memorial and what they mean. It’s a visual representation of me and my husband’s Air Force service, and I’d really like to see the wonder in their eyes at seeing the memorial for the first time.

What I remember most about the first time I ever saw the memorial, was the way the three soaring, shiny stainless steel spires seem to rise up out of the trees when driving up to the memorial site. It was their graceful curvature that took me back to my childhood when I saw the Thunderbirds perform what’s known as the bomb burst maneuver.

I also remember a lot of the news that came out about the design and building of the memorial – some people liked the design while others were very vocal in saying how much they didn’t like it. What mattered to me was my service branch finally having a memorial for our Airmen that captures our mission – much like the Navy’s Lone Sailor Statue signifies the service of Sailors and the Marine Corps War Memorial embodies the courage and sacrifice of Marines.

The memorial is not just for the men and women serving in today’s Air Force but also those who served in early organizations like the Aeronautical Division and Aviation Section of the U.S. Signal Corps; the Army Air Service; the U.S. Army Air Corps; and the U.S. Army Air Forces among others. This is for all of America’s Airmen.

The memorial also features a bronze honor guard statue, which I also identify with – not as a ceremonial guardsman in the U.S. Air Force Honor Guard – but as a young Airman allowed to participate as a member of the base honor guard at McChord Air Force Base, Wash.

The opportunities I had to render final honors for many who served in the Army Air Corps and some who served much more recently really opened my eyes to how much we owe to people who choose to join the ranks of those going off into the wild blue yonder for their country.

As a kid growing up in rural Ohio, I loved watching the crop dusters flying over local farms and enjoyed each chance I got to fly to Texas to visit my grandparents for summer vacations. I’m sure all that, my dad’s service in the Ohio Air National Guard, and my being born in San Antonio, home of the Gateway to the Air Force, played a part in my decision to join.

The Air Force memorial is more than just steel spires, bronze statues, granite walls or the glass contemplation wall honoring fallen Airmen. It shows the American people the spirit of its Airmen through the decades, represents our core values and recognizes the three components that make up our Total Force.

It is a legacy of American Airmen and airpower that I hope future generations, including that of my daughters, can look upon with awe as they remember the great feats we have accomplished and the leaders we have developed.

Photo: The Air Force Memorial in Arlington, Va., is the site of a dedication ceremony Oct. 14, 2006, at 9 a.m. Organizers braved the cooler afternoon temperatures Oct. 12 making final preperations for the dedication ceremony. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Larry A. Simmons)

Security Forces 9/11 Ruck March to Remember: Team Hurlburt

By Tech. Sgt. Chad M. Reemtsma
1st Special Operations Security Forces Squadron

We started with a sense of pride in the fact that there were only four of us doing what other bases were using four or five times the amount of members we had to accomplish the ruck march. We finished deeply humbled by the supporters’ sincere appreciation of the statement we were taking part in.

Tech. Sgt. Dance volunteered his personally owned vehicle as our transportation due to it having the most practical amount of space for our needs.

We departed July 28, 2011, at around 4:30 a.m. We met Team Columbus at noon at State Police Troop M, east of Brookhaven, Miss. Senior Airman Allen Buning and I took the first leg. We developed a 30 minute ruck / 1.5 hour down time schedule that worked out very well.

At roughly 6 p.m. Staff Sgt. McQuiggin and I brought our team into Monticello, Miss. We were greeted by the town with an escort and supporters on the street led by retired Master Sgt. Tim Lea of VFW Post #4889. The post let us stay the night at the Monticello Baptist Church and the Ladies Auxiliary cooked us dinner and let us use the showers.

At 5:30 a.m. we set out From Monticello, Miss., headed east toward Collins, Miss., and beyond. Around 2 p.m. Tech. Sgt. Dance brought us into Collins and it seemed like the whole town was on Main Street. Fire trucks blocked the side roads as we were led in by the Collins Police Department and the rear was brought up by Covington County who had been with us since Prentiss, Miss. The Collins city mayor was on main street and greeted us with city pins and handshakes. By 6 p.m. July 29 we made it 44 miles. We passed Collins, so we backtracked and headed into town to meet the residents of the Collins VA home. We also met James Sanford and his fellow supporters from the Veterans Outreach organization.

Heading out again at 5:30 in the morning we set out from our stopping point east of Collins toward Laurel, Miss. Around 10:30 a.m. we arrived in Laurel and received escort from the Laurel Police Department and fire dept. They escorted us to Laurel’s Veterans Memorial Museum where all members of the community were represented, from veterans to young people wanting to join the military as well as community leaders. We pressed on and made it several miles out of town before we quit for the night and headed back to Laurel for dinner, showers and lodging. The showers and lodging were provided by the Laurel Police Department, at their police training center located next to the Veterans Memorial Museum. We were treated to dinner by Laurel’s Fraternal Order of Police and the police chief.

We set out from east of Laurel at 5:30 a.m. and headed for our final destination in Bolinger/Silas, Ala. We met that deadline around 5:30 p.m. and headed back to the Waynesboro Fire Dept for the night. Waynesboro had some folks come to meet us and set us up with showers, a place to stay and a great barbecue dinner.

We slept in Aug. 1 and rendezvoused with the Tyndall Air Force Base team at around 10:30 a.m. and organized a change over ceremony and then hit the road and headed home.

Photo: (from left ro right) Staff Sgt. Michael McQuiggin, Senior Airman Allen Buning, Tech. Sgt. Daniel Dance and Tech. Sgt. Chad Reemtsma line up with their squadron’s guidon before heading out for their leg of the ruck march. The previous photo was removed due to some uniform items not being within regulations.