Ceremony includes Missouri Speaker of the House Tim Jones
Mo. – For the eighth year in a row, the Missouri Wing of the Civil
Air Patrol, U.S. Air Force Auxiliary, hosted the annual Wreaths Across America Day
ceremony at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery on December 14, 2013.
Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery is the nation’s second largest
veterans’ cemetery after Arlington National Cemetery.
Almost 100 members of the general public – including Patriot Guard Riders, Gold Star Mothers, Sons of the American Revolution, Survivor Outreach Services, Rockwood South Middle School National Junior Honor Society, Youth Excited About Helping (YEAH) and Civil Air Patrol – braved 3-5 inches of fresh overnight snow throughout the greater St. Louis area to help place more than 500 remembrance wreaths in honor of those who gave their lives in service for our country, as well as those who have served and are serving in our nation’s armed forces. In addition, seven special wreaths representing the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, Coast Guard, Merchant Marine, and POW/MIA were presented during a short ceremony.
The event began with a moment of silence sharply at 11 a.m. to coincide with the beginning of the national program at Arlington National Cemetery and the simultaneous start of all ceremonies across the nation in over 900 state and federal veterans’ cemeteries and memorials. The event concluded with the powerful playing of Taps by a bugler.
“The freedoms that we enjoy today have not come without a price,” said Lt. Col. David A. Miller, Missouri Wing deputy director of public affairs and coordinator of the ceremony. “Lying here before us and in cemeteries throughout this nation are men and women who gave their lives so that we can live in freedom and without fear.”
“For their service and for their sacrifice we remain forever indebted. And while it is a debt we cannot repay, we can spend each and every day expressing our appreciation and gratitude in any way we can,” said special guest Rep. Tim Jones, Missouri Speaker of the House of Representatives.
“Whether that takes the form of a thank you to a living veteran, or an active duty service member, or gathering for a solemn moment such as this where we remember and thank those who have given all for our country, we must keep our heroes first and foremost in our hearts and minds just as they put our nation first and foremost in theirs,” continued Speaker Jones.
Specific service wreaths honored the following individuals and
were placed at their gravesites after the ceremony:
- The Army wreath honored the memory of Specialist Third Class Charles A. Stuckey who served as an aircraft mechanic with the U.S. Army in Korea, and who retired from Boeing after 39 years.
- The Navy wreath honored the memory of Yeoman First Class Nicholas Dimasi who served with the U.S. Navy in World War II.
- The Marine Corps wreath honored the memory of Private First Class J. George Owen who served with the Corps in Korea, and made a career in college textbook publishing for almost 40 years.
- The Air Force wreath honored the memory of Staff Sergeant John Neff who served with the U.S. Army Air Force as a radio operator in Greenland during World War II.
- The POW/MIA wreath was presented to the Patriot Guard Riders in memory of the 93,852 United States Servicemen from all branches of the service whose last know status was either Prisoners of War or Missing in Action. These individuals have never returned to their families and homes and shall not be forgotten.
- Finally, the Coast Guard and Merchant Marine wreaths were laid at their respective memorial sites at the cemetery after the ceremony. The Merchant Marine wreath was laid by a former member of the Merchant Marine who was in attendance.
“We are grateful for the assistance of Mr. Jeff Barnes and his staff at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery,” said Lt. Col. Miller. “This event would not be a success very year without their outstanding support.”
Twenty one years ago, Morrill Worcester of the Worcester Wreath Co. donated the first wreaths to Arlington National Cemetery, starting an annual tradition that continues today as Wreaths Across America. The initiative began in 2006 as an offshoot of Worcester’s Arlington National Cemetery wreath project. Since its inception eight years ago, Wreaths Across America has experienced tremendous growth. Visit www.wreathsacrossamerica.org for more information about Wreaths Across America and participating locations.
The Missouri Wing of the Civil Air Patrol is composed of over 1,000 members organized in almost forty units located throughout the state. The wing conducted ten search and rescue missions, as well as six other state support missions, in 2012 and was credited with eight finds.
Civil Air Patrol, the official auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force, is a nonprofit organization with nearly 61,000 members nationwide, operating a fleet of 550 aircraft. CAP, in its Air Force auxiliary role, performs 90 percent of continental U.S. inland search and rescue missions as tasked by the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center and is credited by the AFRCC with saving an average of 80 lives annually. Its unpaid professionals also perform homeland security, disaster relief and drug interdiction missions at the request of federal, state and local agencies. The members play a leading role in aerospace education and serve as mentors to more than 26,000 young people currently participating in the CAP cadet programs. CAP received the World Peace Prize in 2011 and has been performing missions for America for 72 years.