Presidio honors fallen service members at Memorial Day ceremony
May 23, 2014
PRESIDIO OF MONTEREY, Calif. -- The Presidio of Monterey and the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center observed Memorial Day with a special ceremony at the Presidio's Soldier Field May 23.
More than 2,000 service members, civilians and family members gathered to pay tribute to the brave men and women who have lost their lives while serving in the armed forces.
Substantial numbers of local Monterey war veterans in attendance added an august, historic perspective to the day's proceedings.
The garrison flag, the largest-sized national flag used by the Army and flown on military bases only during special occasions, was unfurled and flown over the field of smartly dressed formations from each military branch, along with the DLIFLC color guard.
On the speakers' platform facing the formations in a place of honor sat the members of eight Gold Star families invited to attend the ceremony, as well as DLIFLC Commandant Col. David K. Chapman, Presidio of Monterey Garrison Commander Col. Paul W. Fellinger, guest speaker 306th Intelligence Squadron Commander Lt. Col. Robb Rigtrup, and an assortment of visiting military and civilian dignitaries.
In his brief opening remarks Chapman spoke directly to the Gold Star families, acknowledging the ultimate sacrifice made by their loved ones. "Even as the nation gathered to remember the sacrifices of the fallen," Chapman said, "it is important to remember the families who have given their support to the nation."
As he closed his remarks, Chapman exhorted those gathered not to forget the brave Americans serving around and throughout the world on Memorial Day.
"Remember them today and honor the courage, sacrifice and hope of their families who proudly support those who are deployed around the world defending our freedom," he said. "I thank each and every one of you for the service that you contribute to our nation."
The ceremony included a solemn invocation by a military chaplain, a performance by the DLIFLC Air Force student choir, ended with a ceremony that included the unveiling of a dedication plaque in honor of Air Force Staff Sgt. Richard A. Dickson.
Dickson died April 27, 2013, near Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, while serving on his second combat tour. He was assigned to the 306th Intelligence Squadron out of Beale Air Force Base, Calif. Dickson graduated as a DLIFLC Korean linguist in March 2008.
A symbolic roll call followed, with moments of silence filling the air as time stood still while the names of the fallen were repeatedly called, but received no answer.
The ceremony concluded with the lowering of the garrison flag, a 21-gun salute and the playing of Taps.