By Steven L. Shepard, Presidio of Monterey Public AffairsJune 4, 2012
PRESIDIO OF MONTEREY, Calif. -- It was a day of solemn military ceremony at the Presidio of Monterey May 24 as the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center honored four alumni who in the past year had lost their life in the war on terrorism.
The Memorial Day event, held on the Thursday prior to the holiday, took place on the Presidio's historic Soldier Field. Formations from each military branch, along with DLIFLC's color guard, were positioned on the grassy field displaying the joint service environment at the military's primary foreign language teaching institution.
The strong breeze whipped two prominent flags, a large 20-feet-by-38-feet garrison flag and a black POW/MIA flag that carried the words "You Are Not Forgotten." The DLIFLC Air Force Choir sang "My Country, 'Tis of Thee," and "Amazing Grace" was played on the bagpipes during the ceremony. Additionally, the Presidio's lone cannon's one shot and the DLIFLC firing detail's 21-gun salute accented the importance of the event.
Post Canonneer Sgt. 1st Class Adam Bossart described all the pomp and ceremony as an important opportunity to render military honors on such a meaningful occasion such as Memorial Day. Bossart said that it was only the fourth time he has fired the cannon in the last three years.
"It was a pretty amazing ceremony," said Bossart. "It was great to see DLI come together in all their finest."
At the core of the event though was recognition of four former DLIFLC students. Their names were added to a plaque containing the names of all DLIFLC graduates who have paid the ultimate sacrifice in overseas contingency operations. Air Force Lt. Col Frank D. Bryant Jr. died April 27, 2011, while conducting operations in Kabul, Afghanistan; Sgt. 1st Class Terryl L. Parker died July 9, 2011, while conducting operations in the Panjshir Province of Afghanistan; Staff Sgt. Michael W. Hosey died Sept. 17, 2011, while conducting operations in the Uruzgan Province of Afghanistan; and Marine Sgt. Lucas Pyeatt died Feb. 5, 2011, while conducting operations in the Helmand Province of Afghanistan.
Lt. Col. Matthew G. Rau was the honorary speaker for the event. Rau is the commanding officer of 2nd Radio Battalion from Camp Lejeune, N.C., in which Pyeatt served. Rau spoke to crowd of primarily foreign language students about the important role military linguists play in furthering the mission.
Simply put: "No one knows the enemy as intimately as a linguist," Rau said.
For Capt. Pete Roongsang, he said it was meaningful to him to come together as a group to honor all those who served before and those who are now serving. He added that for the majority of students at DLIFLC who have not been in the military very long it was "a chance for them to experience a little of their military heritage."
"It is important to take a minute or two, take a whole weekend, to remember those family or friends who have been killed in action in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan," said Roongsang. "Have a good time during the holiday weekend, but remember what is important: all those people who have paid the ultimate sacrifice for our country."