May 25, 2009
CNJ staff photo: Sharna Johnson Darlene Pacheco spends a tearful moment at her husband’s grave Monday after the Memorial Day ceremony at Lawn Haven Memorial Gardens. She said Bobby Pacheco, a Vietnam and Gulf War veteran who served in the Navy and Army, died of a heart attack in 2
Warm morning sun and a gentle breeze greeted the group that gathered Monday to honor fallen service members at Lawn Haven Memorial Gardens.
“Memorial Day is a day that brings peace and quiet to those saddened by war,” retired Chief Petty Officer Richard Robertson told the group, reminding that more than 44 million have served their country and more than 4 million have made the ultimate sacrifice in that service.
The group of more than 100 was a collection of both young and old gathered to pay tribute. Veterans in attendance included Bataan Death March Survivors Buren Johnston and Lee Roach.
Chief Master Sergeant Hector Baez spoke to the crowd about the sacrifices service men and women have made and continue to make.
“Equal tribute needs to be given to all those that are serving around the world,” said the 27th SOW Mission Support Group Superintendent.
“Memorial Day is a day of conflicting emotion for each of us.... Let us revive our patriotism and strengthen our loyalties. Today we share a common sorrow, but we unite in thanks.”
Baez emphasized the need to not only remember the sacrifices made by veterans, but to be diligent in recognizing those sacrifices every day.
“May their sacrifices continue to inspire us and fill us with hope all the days of our lives,” he said in closing.
Ceremonies included presenting of the colors, a rifle volley, “Taps,” bagpipes and a fly over by a Cannon AC-130 gunship.
Capt. Mae-Li Allison said the service was the first opportunity the 16th Special Operations Squadron has had since its members began arriving in April.
Allison said members of the detachment, which will stand up as a part of the 27th SOW in June, volunteered to help with the ceremony.
“This is the first time they have been able to give to the community,” she said.
Ami Rogers and her son Trenton were on hand to watch her husband perform a rifle volley.
Rogers said Trenton was excited to see his dad conduct the honor with Cannon’s rifle drill team.
“He’s seen him practice,” she said. “He thinks it’s pretty cool.”