MIDDLETOWN, Iowa -- Current Iowa Army Ammunition Plant workers remembered and honored those veterans and former workers who gave the ultimate sacrifice for their country.
The plant held a Memorial Day Ceremony, May 29, to honor veterans as well as Iowa AAP workers who died in the performance of their duties.
More than 100 people attended the ceremony which was held in front of the Eagle Park Memorial at Iowa AAP.
Congressman Dave Loebsack, D-Iowa, served as guest speaker and noted the dedication of Iowa AAP workers since its inception.
"To all of the employees here at IAAAP who work every day to provide our troops the equipment they need - thank you," he said. "As all of you know so well, the Iowa Army Ammunition Plant has been serving our nation for decades. The first production of ammunition began here just before the attack on Pearl Harbor and generations of employees have made great sacrifices for our nation every day since then. But all too often, the work and sacrifices that you and the workers who preceded you have made have gone unnoticed. "
The Eagle Park Memorial stands as an everlasting tribute to the workers, according to Loebsack.
"The 68 workers who made the ultimate sacrifice carrying out that work will never be forgotten. Whether it is those who we lost in the 1940s like Ralph Carson; those we lost in the '60s such as Josephine Gilman; Justin Friedrichsen and Steve Upton who we lost in 2006; or Matt Parrott who we lost in 2009 - we remember and we honor each and every one of them," he said. "To their families and to those who worked with them, those who are honored by this memorial are not just names etched in stone - they were loved ones and co-workers. Iowans with vibrant lives outside of these gates and patriots who contributed to our nation's security.
"You should all be proud - it's because of you and because of the generations who came before you that the Iowa Army Ammunition Plant has for decades been seen as a leader in ammunition production and a critical asset to the Army and our nation."
Lt. Col. Michael Bruens, commander, Iowa AAP, spoke on the sacrifices veterans and workers made on behalf of the country.
"What does Memorial Day mean to you? To me, Memorial Day reminds me that freedom is not free. Throughout the rest of my discussion, you'll find that common theme. There has been, and always will be, a price associated with freedom; unfortunately, an incredibly high price at times.
"We memorialize those who have given their lives -- from Normandy to Manila, Inchon to Khe Sanh, Baghdad to Helmand, and in every woodland, flatland, jungle, desert, and city street in between, all over the world, to include right here at home, at the Iowa Army Ammunition Plant."
Matt Dibas, president of American Ordnance, said it's proper and appropriate for the Army staff and AO workers to come together and acknowledge heroes from years past to the present.
"It's important that we thank (service members and plant workers) for their service and sacrifices for our freedom," he said. "For the employees here, it's important to remember that what you do everyday protects our country."
Many of the workers from the production lines were authorized to attend the morning ceremony.
Other speakers for the ceremony included the Joint Munitions Command Chaplain Maj. Scott Fluegel.
Iowa AAP is a subordinate organization of the Joint Munitions Command responsible for producing tank practice rounds, artillery rounds and 40 mm grenades, and for pressing missile warheads.
From its headquarters in Rock Island, Ill., JMC operates a nationwide network of conventional ammunition manufacturing plants and storage depots, and provides on-site ammunition experts to U.S. combat units wherever they are stationed or deployed. JMC's customers are U.S. forces of all military services, other U.S. Government agencies, and allied nations.