BAGRAM AIR FIELD, AFGHANISTAN (May 29, 2016) - The Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines of U.S. Forces – Afghanistan, their coalition partners and Department of Defense civilians and contractors gathered here today to observe Memorial Day and to honor, respect, and remember the men and women who gave their lives in service to our nation.
U.S. Army Maj. Jeffrey Bailey, USFOR-A command chaplain, thanked everyone for attending and delivered the invocation.
Bailey took the opportunity to publically acknowledge the sacrifices of those who gave their lives defending freedom both here in Afghanistan and since the inception of the U.S. Military.
BAGRAM AIR FIELD, AFGHANISTAN (May 30,2016) – U.S. Army Chaplain (Maj.) Jeffrey Bailey, U.S. Forces Afghanistan command chaplain, gave the invocation and introduction to the command's Memorial Day observance. He spoke of the opportunity to publicly acknowledge the sacrifices of those who gave their lives defending freedom both here in Afghanistan and since the beginnings of the U.S. military. (Photo by Bob Harrison, U.S. Forces Afghanistan Public Affairs)
“Conducting this event here in Afghanistan reminds us once again of why we are serving, the legacy to which we belong, and the cost associated with such service, whereby, each service member commits to serve and defend with all their might and ability, up to and including...their life.”
Bailey said the importance of this event was “to honor those who've died in service and commit to the same selfless service and remembrance of the heroes in whose footsteps we follow.”
Following the U.S. national anthem, Bailey introduced a special, short, video prelude to the observance, a speech by former U.S. president Ronald Reagan, delivered in 1964. The senior officers and the senior enlisted advisors of the U.S. Army, U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Navy and U.S. Air Force, currently serving here at BAF, each presented a memorial wreath on behalf of their respective military service to honor all who gave their lives defending our nation.
U.S. Army Command Sgt. Maj. Charles W. Albertson, USFOR-A senior enlisted advisor, spoke to the gathering. He began by describing the honor he felt to have been asked to speak, and how profoundly important is was to say the right things to honor our fallen comrades.
BAGRAM AIR FIELD, AFGHANISTAN (May 30,2016) – U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Jeffery L. Bannister, (right), U.S. Forces Afghanistan deputy command general - support, and U.S. Army Command Sgt. Maj. Charles W. Albertson, senior enlisted advisor – support, render honors during the playing of the national anthem during the command's Memorial Day observance (Photo by Bob Harrison, U.S. Forces Afghanistan Public Affairs)
“This Global War on Terror has defined my career and the experiences I've had convinced me to accept [to speak] on behalf of those that have made the ultimate sacrifice and no longer have the opportunity to speak for themselves.”
Albertson has a long and distinguished career, spanning 24 years, and includes 15 combat tours, totaling 52 months deployed to either Afghanistan or Iraq that included two citations for valor.
He reminded us all of the history of Memorial Day, including the first observation in 1868, then-called Decoration Day, to honor the fallen of the American Civil War.
Albertson continued his remarks summarizing our commitment to current military engagements around the world.
“In the battle we are currently fighting, there are countless examples of the continued sacrifice of our nation's sons and daughters and how they have volunteered to pick up arms and stand against our enemies.
“Including the Civil War,” he continued, “over 1,354,000 service members have died in service to the nation.”
He then called attention to the scrolling names that had been on video display at the front of the room, which listed the 3, 516 U.S. and coalition service members who gave their lives in service to their nations and in support of the people of Afghanistan.
After Albertson's remarks, Chaplain Bailey asked all in attendance to observe a moment of silence to honor our fallen, while U. S. Army Spc. Joseph Faust, 10th Mountain Division, played a stirring rendition of taps in the background.
BAGRAM AIR FIELD, AFGHANISTAN (May 30,2016) – U.S. Army Spc. Joseph Faust, 10th Mountain Divison, sounded a stirring rendition of Taps to lead into a moment of silence during the U.S. Forces Afghanistan Memorial Day observance held here today. (Photo by Bob Harrison, U.S. Forces Afghanistan Public Affairs)
U.S. Air Force Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Christian Biscotti, 455th Air Expeditionary Wing chaplain, concluded the observance with a benediction, after which a brief musical postlude played.
At the conclusion of the observance, Bailey invited all the guests to gather in fellowship.
Afterward, U.S. Army Command Sgt. Maj. Matthew Boehme, Task Force Explosive Ordinance Division said, “The ceremony was very emotional for me. I have lost several friends over here. The speech the sergeant major made was very moving. So, it was a great ceremony.”
U. S. Navy Senior Chief Petty Officer Shawn Vick, remarked that the ceremony was, “a reminder of those who came here to do what we are doing, but did not make it home. It was my pleasure to be here paying homage, giving back.”
Mary Cowen, a Department of Defense Expeditionary Workforce Civilian, from Los Angeles, Calif, said, “I am glad I could be here to pause and remember those who have died in our militaries.”
Each year, the United States observes Memorial Day on the last Monday of May. A one-hundred and forty-six year tradition to remember the greatest American heroes.
The men and women currently serving in U.S. Forces Afghanistan are the latest in a long and distinguished line of American citizens, who today, demonstrate that they will never forget the sacrifices made to defend our nation and to defend freedom around the world.
By (Courtesy of U.S. Forces Afghanistan)
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