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Gold Star Family Day
by U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class LaTonya Kelly
October 26, 2016

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The 63rd Regional Support Command hosted its 4th annual Gold Star Family Day event on Septemer 24, 2016 at Armed Forces Reserve Center, Mountain View, Calif., to honor local Families who have dealt with the loss of loved ones in combat.

The ceremony was coordinated by David Harvey, Army Reserve Survivor Outreach Service Program, who invited local families and community veterans to the ceremony.

“Our mission is to build a unified support program which embraces and reassures survivors that they are continually linked to the Army Family for as long as they need us,” said Harvey.

The event is one of the ways they keep the affected Families closely linked to the local military, Harvey said.

The sacrifice and hardships endured by the surviving Families were recognized by Norman Aleman, veteran services officer for the San Mateo County region.

“We don't know what you're going through, we don't know the sorrows, we don't know the long nights, but we do know that we're here for you,” Aleman said. “Each and every day, we are here for you.”

Aleman urged the Families to hold on to the memories of their children, the good and the bad ones.

“Hold on to them, that last hug, the last smile, that last conversation,” Aleman said. “Reach out to the families that are with you, the service members, the staff ... there is no greater sacrifice and we are here to honor you.”

Five Gold Star Mothers were recognized and given a standing ovation by the Soldiers, Department of the Army civilians, and contractors within the 63rd RSC.

Sept. 24, 2016 - Soldiers from the 63rd Regional Support Command give standing applause to Gold Star Mothers (from left to right) Beverly Balsley, Dianne Layfield and Deloris Kesterson, in honor of their sacrifices during the 63rd RSC’s 4th annual Gold Star Family Day event at Armed Forces Reserve Center, Mountain View, California. (U.S. Army Reserve photo by Capt. Alun Thomas)
Sept. 24, 2016 - Soldiers from the 63rd Regional Support Command give standing applause to Gold Star Mothers (from left to right) Beverly Balsley, Dianne Layfield and Deloris Kesterson, in honor of their sacrifices during the 63rd RSC's 4th annual Gold Star Family Day event at Armed Forces Reserve Center, Mountain View, California. (U.S. Army Reserve photo by Capt. Alun Thomas)

The mothers included Beverly Balsley, Deloris Kesterson, Dianne Layfield, Jacqueline Sigua and Beth Womack.

Balsley, of Hayward, Calif., lost her son, Spc. Michael Balsley, when he was killed instantly by an improvised explosive device in Iraq on January 25, 2007.

Balsley spoke about the support her family was given by military related organizations following Michael's death.

“At Michael's funeral I saw lots of people holding flags, all these motorcycles – it took my breath away,” Balsley said. “It was such an inspiration to me. I grew great strength from it.

Balsley asked Soldiers and veterans to stand during her speech, thanking them for their service.

“I want you to know America honors you for what you do ...you're an inspiration to us all,” Balsley said.

Also speaking at the event was Maj. Gen. Nick Tooliatos, commanding general, 63rd RSC, who said he's been proud to show the depth of support provided by the command to the Gold Star Families during his three years in charge of the 63rd RSC.

“We have as many Soldiers as possible here today to recognize these Families,” Tooliatos said. “We want you know how much we support you and always will.”

Tooliatos also pointed out Brig. Gen. Doug Anderson, deputy commanding general, 63rd RSC, who himself is a Gold Star son.

“Doug lost his father in Vietnam and we have other similar families in the unit,” he said, asking them all to stand.

Tooliatos said the Families of the fallen at the ceremony are the finest the nation has to offer.

“It's hard to watch the news today and see a country I love going through what it is right now,” Tooliatos said. “But everything that's right about our country is represented by these families here today and for that we should give them a round of applause.”

By U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class LaTonya Kelly
Provided through DVIDS
Copyright 2016

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