RICHMOND, Va. –
The service and sacrifice of Virginians from all branches of the Armed Forces who gave their lives in service to the United States of America were remembered May 30, 2016, at ceremonies across Virginia including the 2016 Commonwealth’s Memorial Day Ceremony at the Virginia War Memorial in Richmond, Virginia, and the Hanover County Veterans Memorial.
“It is a great honor to be with you today and play a part in these ceremonies where we pay tribute and show our respect to those who served their nation in uniform and sacrificed all to ensure we remain a free people,” said retired U.S. Navy Admiral John C. Harvey, Jr., Virginia Secretary of Veterans and Defense Affairs, at the Virginia War Memorial. “Free from fear. Free to live our lives. Free to speak our minds. Free to worship as we believe.”
Harvey and John L. Newby, II, Commissioner of the Virginia Department of Veterans Services, placed the Commonwealth Memorial Wreath at the Eternal Flame in the Shrine of Memory the Virginia War Memorial.
“Today we recognize the extraordinary price others have paid for our freedoms, our way of lives,” Harvey said. “This day it is our solemn duty to remember those who went before and died for us. As we remember and we reflect, so must we remember to act. We must act as citizens in ways that give life to how we remember and honor those who died. We must act and give meaning to our memories, because it is all too clear how quickly we can forget what this day is truly all about. We will give their deaths meaning by what we do with the great gift they have give us: the gift of freedom. We will give their lives the meaning by how we uphold the legacy they have left us.”
Maj. Gen. Timothy P. Williams, the Adjutant General of Virginia, and his wife Cheryl placed the Virginia National Guard wreath at the Eternal Flame in the Shrine of Memory honoring the members of the Virginia National Guard who died in service to commonwealth and country.
“I can think of no better way to honor the sacrifices of our heroic dead than to ask all of us to live to the spirit of these words each and every day regardless of position or means in life,” said Col. Bryan Coleman, director of joint operations for the Virginia National Guard, referring to the six words inscribed at the Hanover County Veterans Memorial at Wayside Park: duty, courage, valor, patriotism, commitment and honor. Coleman served as the guest speaker for the memorial service, and his comments were reported in the Hanover Herald-Progress.
“Patriotism is not a bad thing. Show pride and respect for our nation,” Coleman said.
The following Virginia Guard Soldiers were lost to hostile enemy action since September 11, 2001:
Staff Sgt. Craig W. Cherry, 39, of Winchester, Va., and Sgt. Bobby E. Beasley, 36, of Inwood, W.Va., died on Aug. 7, 2004, in Ghazikel, Afghanistan, when their vehicle struck an improvised explosive device. Both Soldiers were assigned to the Army National Guard’s 3rd Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade, 29th Infantry Division, Winchester, Va.
Sgt. Nicholas C. Mason, 20, of King George, Va., and Sgt. David A. Ruhren, 20, of Stafford, Va., died Dec. 21, 2004, in Mosul, Iraq, when their dining facility was attacked. Both were assigned to the Army National Guard’s 276th Engineer Battalion, West Point, Va.
Col. Paul M. Kelly, 45, of Stafford, Va., and Sgt. 1st Class Darryl D. Booker, 37, of Midlothian, Va., died in Baghdad, Iraq, on Jan. 20, 2007, when the UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter they were in crashed. Kelly was assigned to the Joint Force Headquarters of the Virginia Army National Guard in Blackstone, Va., and Booker was assigned to the 29th Infantry Division, Virginia Army National Guard, Sandston, Va.
Sgt. David E. Lambert, 39, of Cedar Bluff, Va., died Oct. 26, 2007, in Baghdad, Iraq, of wounds sustained from an improvised explosive device. He was assigned to the 237th Engineer Company, 276th Engineer Battalion, 91st Troop Command of the Virginia National Guard.
Sgt. Derek R. Banks, 24, of Newport News, Va., died Nov. 14, 2007, in San Antonio of wounds suffered Oct. 25 in Baghdad, Iraq, when the vehicle he was in struck an improvised explosive device. He was assigned to the 237th Engineer Company, 276th Engineer Battalion, 91st Troop Command, Virginia National Guard, West Point, Va.
Staff Sgt. Jeremiah E. McNeal, 23, of Norfolk, Va., died April 6, 2008, in Baghdad, Iraq, of wounds suffered when his vehicle encountered an improvised explosive device. He was assigned to the 237th Engineer Company, 276th Engineer Battalion, 91st Troop Command, Virginia Army National Guard, West Point, Va.
Sgt. Jesse A. Ault, 28, of Dublin, Va., died April 9, 2008, in Baghdad, Iraq, from wounds suffered in Tunnis, Iraq, when his vehicle encountered an improvised explosive device. He was assigned to the 429th Brigade Support Battalion, Virginia Army National Guard, Roanoke, Va.
Adjutant General’s 2016 Memorial Day Message:
Hanover veterans reflect on their service, honor fallen comrades