Va. Guard Soldiers, Airmen remembered at Public Safety Memorial

Soldiers from the Virginia National Guard Funeral Honors Program provide a rifle salute at the dedication of the Commonwealth Public Safety Memorial Dec. 6, 2014, at the memorial site at Capitol Square in Richmond, Va. (Photo by Cotton Puryear, Virginia National Guard Public Affairs)

Soldiers from the Virginia National Guard Funeral Honors Program provide a rifle salute at the dedication of the Commonwealth Public Safety Memorial Dec. 6, 2014, at the memorial site at Capitol Square in Richmond, Va. (Photo by Cotton Puryear, Virginia National Guard Public Affairs)

RICHMOND, Va.– Thirty-two Virginia National Guard Soldiers and Airmen were remembered among 870 Virginia public safety officers who died in the line of duty at the dedication of the Commonwealth Public Safety Memorial Dec. 6, 2014, at the memorial site at Capitol Square in Richmond, Va.

Governor Terry McAuliffe and Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security Brian Moran provided remarks during the ceremony. Former Secretaries of Public Safety Marla Graff Decker and Bryan Rhode and Brig. Gen. Timothy P. Williams, the Adjutant General of Virginia, were among the group of public safety leaders who read the names on the memorial. Soldiers from the 29th Division Band provided ceremonial music and Soldiers from the Virginia National Guard Funeral Honors Program provided a rifle salute.

“Today we truly have a reason to celebrate,” McAuliffe said. “As someone who has been involved with this memorial for several years, this memorial holds a special significance to me. All of us depend on the protection of Virginia’s public safety officials each and every day. Before now, Virginia was one of just six states that did not have a public safety memorial. I am so proud that during my administration that we will now join those forty-four other states who have a memorial to honor those public safety officers who sacrifice daily to keep Virginians safe and those who have given their lives in service to their communities.”

The memorial acknowledges each public safety officer with an engraving of their name, ensuring that their memory is never forgotten and providing a place where their families and colleagues can gather to remember them. The memorial is located in a 150 foot by 40 foot area in front of the Patrick Henry Building.

“The beauty and dignity of the remarkable memorial we unveiled today provides us all with the perfect space to reflect upon the lives of those it honors,” Moran said. “It also serves to honor the 165,000 active public safety officers in active service today. They continue to risk their own personal safety each and every day for the protection of others.”

Ten Virginia National Guard Soldiers have been killed by hostile enemy fire since Sept. 11, 2001, and they are remembered on the Wall of Honor at the Virginia War Memorial in Richmond. The full list of fallen Soldiers is available at: http://vaguard.dodlive.mil/remember_the_fallen/.

“Protecting our commonwealth and nation is an inherently dangerous job and this memorial serves as a testament to that,” said Brig. Gen. Timothy P. Williams, the Adjutant General of Virginia. “It is also a way for us as citizens to pay tribute to them and their families’ sacrifice while providing a permanent way to remember.”

More information about the memorial is available at http://www.vpsf.org/#!memorial/c1flq.

The standard for inclusion at the memorial is Virginia’s Line of Duty Act: any individual whose death occurs as the direct or proximate result of the performance of his duty as a member of the Virginia National Guard or the Virginia Defense Force while such member is serving in the Virginia National Guard or the Virginia Defense Force on official state duty or federal duty under Title 32 of the United States Code. More information about the line of duty act is available at https://leg1.state.va.us/cgi-bin/legp504.exe?000+cod+9.1-400.

Williams said that the individuals honored on the memorial were identified after an extensive search of existing Line of Duty records, but he acknowledged that there could be Soldiers or Airmen who deserve to be recognized but are not currently included.

“We want to make sure every Soldier and Airmen who deserves a place on this memorial is remembered,” Williams said.

According to the Virginia Public Safety Foundation website, anyone aware of someone who should be included in the memorial should call 804-648-6299 Ext. 1004. Additional information about adding names to the memorial is available at http://media.wix.com/ugd/39bc3f_91d18cdc7ab74f259942539d1dc5965f.pdf.

To request adding a name to the memorial, download the application in PDF format at http://vaguard.dodlive.mil/files/2014/12/PublicSafetyMemorialApplication.pdf and complete it with as much information as possible. Email the form and all supporting documents to the Virginia National Guard Public Affairs Office at ngva.pao@mail.mil.

The following Virginia National Guard Airmen are remembered on the Public Safety Memorial:

2nd Lt. John H. “Jack” Loving: Airman from the 149th Fighter Squadron, 192nd Tactical Fighter Group died Dec. 28, 1948, when his F-47 Thunderbolt fighter plane crashed in the Chickahominy Swamp near Roxbury, Va.

2nd Lt. John L. Harris, Sgt. Robert F. Drewry, Sgt. Carl J. Toomey and Pvt. Benjamin F. Renick: Four Airmen from the 149th Fighter Squadron, 192nd Tactical Fighter Group were killed Jan. 22, 1949, when their B-26 invader plane exploded and crashed into the James River near Fort Eustis, Va.

Tech. Sgt. James A. Childress: Airman firefighter died 9 May 9, 1960, during an accident while on an emergency response call at Byrd Airfield in Richmond, Va.

2nd Lt. Frederick A. D’Amico: Airman from the 149th Fighter Squadron, 192nd Tactical Fighter Group died Nov. 17, 1962, when his F-84 fighter jet crash in the York River near West Point, Va.

Lt. Col. James P. Gunter: Airman from the 149th Fighter Squadron, 192nd Tactical Fighter Group died March 10, 1981, when his F-105D Thunderchief fighter bomber crashed during a training exercise at Fort Bragg, N. C.

Maj. William J. Monahan: Airman from the 192nd Fighter Wing died Feb. 9, 1982, during a routine training mission while piloting a single-seat A-7D fighter-bomber which crashed into the water 20 miles north of Cape Hatteras, N. C.

Eighteen Airmen from the 203rd RED HORSE Squadron were killed on March 3, 2001, when they were returning home after completing a two-week military construction project at Hurlburt Field, Fla. The C-23 Sherpa they were flying in crashed in a cotton field near Unadilla, Ga.:
Senior Master Sgt. James Beninati
Tech. Sgt. Paul Blancato
Master Sgt. Ernest Blawas
Tech. Sgt. Andrew H. Bridges
Senior Master Sgt. Eric Bulman
Tech. Sgt. Paul Cramer
Master Sgt. Michael East
Tech. Sgt. Ronald Elkin
Tech. Sgt. James Ferguson
Tech. Sgt. Randy Johnson
Staff Sgt. Mathrew Kidd
Senior Master Sgt. Michael Lane
Master Sgt. Edwin Richardson
Master Sgt. Dean Shelby
Tech. Sgt. John Sincavage
Tech. Sgt. Gregory Skurupey
Tech. Sgt Richard Summerell
Maj. Frederick Watkins

The following Virginia National Guard Soldiers are remembered on the Public Safety Memorial:

Staff Sgt. Phillip S. Menaugh: Soldier from Company B, 116th Infantry Brigade died in a training accident June 9, 1984, at Fort Bragg, N. C.

Staff Sgt. Maynard W. Pitcock: Soldier from Headquarters Company, 3rd Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment died July 21, 1985, from medical complications during annual training.

Master Sgt. David W. Powers: Soldier from Company A, 116th Support Battalion, 116th Infantry Brigade died July 26, 1985, from medical complications during annual training.

2nd Lt. Maria Anne Sherer: Soldier from 1032nd Transportation Company died in a vehicle accident Sept. 13, 1987, during a training exercise.

Staff Sgt. Larry H. Comer: Soldier from 116th Infantry Brigade Headquarters died in a vehicle accident July 31, 1988, at Fort A. P. Hill, during a training exercise.

View and download high resolution photos on Flickr:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/vaguardpao/sets/72157649641460955/