By Tony Lopez (AMC)May 28, 2014
MIDDLETOWN, Iowa. -- The Iowa Army Ammunition Plant held a Memorial Day Ceremony, May 22, to honor employees who lost their lives since ammunition production began here in 1941.
The ceremony was held at the Eagle Park Memorial, a monument erected in 2007, which recognizes the sacrifices made by the 69 people whose names are engraved in the granite.
This past October, one more name was added, Benjamin Sylvester, an electrical subcontractor who was killed while working at the ordnance plant.
Lt. Col. Michael T. Triplett, IAAAP commander, provided comments after American Ordinance employees placed wreaths to honor the fallen.
"Remember that Memorial Day is both a somber day and a day to rejoice. A day to weep and a day to sing. A day of forgotten valor and a day to remember the brave. Most of all, it's a day to tell the stories of American heroes so they will never be forgotten," said Triplett.
Triplett urged the approximately 250 ceremony attendees to celebrate the lives of the 1.3 million American Soldiers who have died in battle, as well as the members of their own families.
State Senator Tom Courtney, 44th District, Burlington, Iowa, native, provided remarks as the guest speaker.
"At events like this, I usually say it's good to be here, but today, I wish none of us were here," Courtney said. "I wish this ordnance plant didn't have to exist, and we could all live without war. Unfortunately, that isn't the case. Americans have always, from the very beginning, had to fight to establish and maintain our freedoms. Today, we remember the thousands of Soldiers, Airmen and Marines who have died in battle for our freedoms. Their great sacrifices will never be forgotten."
That same sacrifice and tribute applies to the fallen IAAAP employees according to Courtney.
"When those 69 people got into their cars and drove to work that morning on their last day, they were just as much heroes as those who charge into battle," Courtney said.
To honor the 69 employees who have died at IAAAP, many family members of victims attended the ceremony from across Iowa and the country.
Margaret Warner, of Fort Madison, Iowa, daughter of Delores Marlette, who was killed in 1958, came to respect her mom's memory. Her mother was 41 years old when she passed.
LaVeta Smith, Dallas City, Illinois, represented the family of Sylvia Clark, who passed in 1967.
The ceremony was "a beautiful memory for us," Smith said. "It means a lot for the family to honor her now."
During the ceremony, family members and AO employees placed a rose at the base of the monument to honor each victim.
The ceremony also included opening comments from Paul Heidenreich, President of AO; the Burlington, Iowa area Veterans Honor Guard who posted the colors; taps on the bagpipes performed by Tim Tibbetts, professor, Monmouth College; scripture readings by Donna Leathers and Dorothy Winters; an invocation by Chaplain (Col.) Scott R. Carson, Army Materiel Command; and a benediction by Chaplain (Maj.) Terry E. Jarvis, Joint Munitions Command.
The IAAAP directly reports to JMC, headquartered at the Rock Island Arsenal, Rock Island, Ill., and produces medium and large-caliber ammunition products. It has the capability of loading high explosive warheads, projectiles and unique high explosive products supporting the Department of Defense.
With IAAAP's organic capability, the DoD is able to ensure the availability of those high quality munitions products necessary to support U.S. military servicemembers wherever they are stationed or deployed.