Civil Air Patrol Honors Fallen Veterans with ‘Wreaths Across America’

 

Civil Air Patrol Honors Fallen Veterans with ‘Wreaths Across America’

Members of Civil Air Patrol are proud to partner yearly with Wreaths Across America, a nonprofit organization that recognizes the courage and sacrifices of U.S. veterans by placing wreaths on the graves of the fallen during the holiday season.

Many organizations, including the American Legion, VFW, Civil Air Patrol, other veteran’s organizations, local citizens and law enforcement units, have pitched in since 2006. The other veterans organizations mentioned are traditionally biking clubs, representing the biker vets associated with the ceremonies since the beginning.

In 2012 our fallen and our POW/MIA’s were again honored in more than 600 locations this December 15 (the second Saturday in December is designated for the yearly event) to meet the Wreaths Across America mission statement - “Remember, Honor, Teach.”

Civil Air Patrol was certainly a part of it all here in Mississippi. CAP participated in honoring our fallen and missing, from Corinth National Cemetery in the north to Biloxi National Cemetery in the south.

In the far north end of the state, Oxford CAP squadron honored the nation’s heroes at Corinth. Overcast skies, with rain holding off, and a somber and respectful mood characterized the ceremonies. CAP senior members were CAP Squadron Commander Major James A. Petermann, assisted by other CAP officers 2dLt Hugh J Sloan IV, Capt John Cantele, 2dLt Fran Fuller, and 1stLt Sally Petermann. These squadron officers oversaw the CAP portion of the ceremonies and the laying of wreaths on veterans’ graves by the unit.

The CAP Color Guard was comprised of cadets C/SSgt Nick Erwin, C/TSgt Courtney Conway, C/Amn Ricky Varner, and C/SMSgt Johnathan Norman. Then, joined by C/2dLt Dylan Bennet, who earlier presented the Coast Guard wreath in a traditional ceremony honoring all military branches and the Merchant Marine, the five cadets and six senior members from the unit honored the sleeping warriors by laying more than 80 other wreathes on graves selected at random for all wars and services.

Oxford CAP 2d Lt Sloan quietly observed after the Corinth ceremonies, “Many fine people missed many Christmases so we can enjoy ours in peace and freedom … and today we honor them.”

In the far south, CAP 1stLt Darrin Stewart, with a similar cadre from his Keesler Squadron present, participated in the ceremonies. Honoring the fallen with them were representatives from the area‘s Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard and Merchant Marine units. Ceremonies were similar in Corinth in the northern end of the state and at Biloxi National cemetery in the south. Over 300 wreaths were laid during ceremonies upon various warriors’ graves at Biloxi. CAP Major Hank Rogers, and CAP Lt Col Wesley Bennett of Mississippi Wing Headquarters were also assisting. LtCol Bennett placed the USAF service wreath during the central memorial ceremonies.

Stewart observed, “We are gathered here today at this memorial site and in memorial sites all across America to remember that we are one nation with one flag. We are all proud to be Americans that live in a free society made up of many peoples, many races and from many walks of life.” The Biloxi Lieutenant added, “We are here today to say ‘thank you’ and we are honored to know you.”

Other WAA sites honored on this day in Mississippi were: Magnolia Cemetery (Batesville), War Memorial Monument (Pontotoc), Oddfellows Cemetery (Okolona), Mississippi Veterans Memorial Cemetery (Newton), and Natchez National Cemetery.

The unexpected inspiration for this moving tribute across the entire nation today originated with Morrill Worcester of Worcester Wreath Co. in Maine. In 1992 he had a “…surplus of wreaths nearing the end of the holiday season.” And “…Worcester realized he had an opportunity to honor our country’s Veterans. Worcester arranged for his surplus wreaths to be placed at Arlington (National Cemetery) in one of the older sections of the cemetery, a section which had been receiving fewer visitors with each passing year.” From such humble and inspired origins, a new American tradition was born.

The 307 WAA Wreaths arriving at Biloxi

Biloxi squadron cadet places wreath

Biloxi Squadron Color Guard

Pictures by Lt Col’s Jim and Kathy Wiley (see 3 below)

 

Contributors/sources for this article:

1. NHQ CAP, Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala. (Para 1)

2. http://www.wreathsacrossamerica.org/ (Para 2, 3 Mission, last Para)

3. For all 148 Biloxi photos point your browser to:

https://picasaweb.google.com/114952220844945826856/WreathsAcrossAmerica2012InBiloxiMS#

4. Ms. Priscilla Loebenberg, Special to the Sun Herald, and photos in Sun Herald article. Submitted by

e-mail from Major Hank Rogers. (Para 8)

5. Maj James Peterman, MS050 CC, and 2dLt Hugh Sloan IV, MS050

5. Lt Col Hugh Sloan, MS Wing PAO