WASHINGTON – As the sun began to set over the National Capitol Region, several hundred people gathered at the Air Force Memorial with the District of Columbia-city landscape as the backdrop to witness a wreath-laying event, followed by a concert performed by the United States Air Force Band, Aug. 14.
The wreath-laying ceremony and concert were held to recognize the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II and “honor the greatest generation ... ” said Lt. Gen. James M. “Mike” Holmes, deputy chief of staff for Strategic Plans and Requirements, Headquarters U.S. Air Force.
World War II veterans (left-right), retired Brig. Gen. James 'J. Richard' Compton, retired Army Lt. CJ Moore, retired Army Sgt. Ron Locke, retired Marine Corps Sgt. Charley Schuck and retired Navy Capt. John Reed, applaud after a song played by the Air Force Band at the Air Force Memorial in Arlington, Va., Aug. 14, 2015. The event included a wreath-laying ceremony and a four-ship P-51 Mustang flyover to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Joshua DeMotts)
“We are here today to honor those brave and often heroic individuals who served during World War II, their achievements, dedication and courage,” said Scott Van Cleef, Air Force Association chairman of the board. “We wish to say thank you for their sacrifices. Seeing these brave men and women who join us tonight and remembering those who are here only in spirit, I can't help but feel awed by the enormity of what they have achieved. We stand in the midst of patriots and family and friends of those who have nobly served. They were ordinary people who responded in extraordinary ways in extreme times. They rose to the nation's call because they wanted to protect the country that had given them so much.”
Following a moment of silence, an all-white arrangement of flowers and blue ribbon intertwined wreath was laid at the base of the AF Memorial.
“It's an honor to be recognized and to show the flag,” said retired Marine Brig. Gen. Donald Brooks, served in the 1st Division in Okinawa, Japan, during World War II, who attended the event with a group of people from Falcon's Landing in Sterling, Virginia. “We are going to hear some great music tonight.”
Followed by the singing of the national anthem, a four-ship formation of P-51 Mustangs performed a fly-over.
“It is impressive to be here and be a part of this,” said Master Sgt. William (Bill) Tayman, retired after 22 years in the Air Force as a ground radio electronic technician.
The United States Air Force Band performed some of the top hits from the era and ended by singing the songs of all armed services as individuals stood to be recognized for their service to their country.
Bridgette Alpar (left), 14, and her 10-year-old sister Meredith, read an engraved wall at the Air Force Memorial in Arlington, Va., Aug. 14, 2015. The Air Force Band played music from the World War II era after a wreath-laying ceremony and a flyover to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II. Bridgette and Meredith's father, Maj. David Alpar, is a member of the band. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Joshua DeMotts)
“I can't express it, the music, it tears me up, I just have no way to express it,” said the 95-year-old retired Army Brig. Gen. James "J. Richard" Compton, WWII physician, as tears began to well in his eyes. “You lose a lot of your very, very good friends and we were all just pulling together in an absolutely astounding time. People gave up a lot, they all had somebody involved in it and we still pray for them.”
By U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Joshua DeMotts
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