Post honors fallen soldiers

Published 1:30 pm Wednesday, May 30, 2018

The area Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Post 9954 remembered service members who gave their lives during a Memorial Day ceremony Monday.

While the initial location at Lakeview Cemetery had been moved to the 9954 Post building due to heavy rain, Tom Hart with the VFW and American Legion Post 147 and District 4 Commander Don Westerland carried a wreath to the front of the assembly, and four VFW members stood on guard, holding a United States flag and a VFW flag.

There were also moments of silence as “Taps” played, and members offered prayers.

Post Commander Claude Tomlinson spoke about not forgetting those who sacrificed their lives, families and health in combat, including their families.

“On Memorial Day, we all can find ourselves reflecting on those individuals who so bravely … risked life and limb in the face of grave danger,” Tomlinson said.

He noted several service members who died in combat, ranging from eras dating from World War II to the Iraq conflict in the mid-2000s.

Captain James Graham was one service member.

Tomlinson said Graham, who served in the Marine Corps during the Vietnam War, allowed members of his platoon to escape heavy ammunition fire and chose to stay with a seriously wounded man.

“He died protecting his fellow Marines,” Tomlinson said.

He noted other service members, including a mother of three, Katrina Bell-Johnson, who was killed as a result of a vehicle accident in Iraq in 2005, and Sgt. James Edward Martin, 19, who died in a battle in Korea in 1950. He was classified as missing in action, and his family continued to look for him for nearly 66 years until his body was discovered and he was taken back home.

“These individuals, and so many like them, live on as some of the most courageous heroes in our history,” Tomlinson said. “We must ensure that these people are never forgotten.”

Matthew Warren, who attended the ceremony, said the event was a needed reminder of what it means to remember people who have died in service.

“You have to honor the ones who have fallen for your country,” Warren said.