Virginia’s fallen warriors remembered, honored on Memorial Day

Maj. Gen. Timothy P. Williams, the Adjutant General of Virginia, and his wife Cheryl place the Virginia National Guard wreath at the Eternal Flame in the Shrine of Memory honoring the Virginia National Guard at the 2015 Commonwealth's Memorial Day Ceremony May 25, 2015, at the Virginia War Memorial in Richmond, Va. (Photo by Cotton Puryear, Virginia National Guard Public Affairs)

Maj. Gen. Timothy P. Williams, the Adjutant General of Virginia, and his wife Cheryl place the Virginia National Guard wreath at the Eternal Flame in the Shrine of Memory honoring the Virginia National Guard at the 2015 Commonwealth’s Memorial Day Ceremony May 25, 2015, at the Virginia War Memorial in Richmond, Va. (Photo by Cotton Puryear, Virginia National Guard Public Affairs)

RICHMOND, Va. — Virginians from all branches of the Armed Forces who gave their lives in service to the United States of America were remembered May 25, 2015, at ceremonies across Virginia including the 2015 Commonwealth’s Memorial Day Ceremony at the Virginia War Memorial in Richmond. Va. and the Virginia Veterans Cemetery in Amelia.

The names of four Virginians added to the Wall of Honor since Memorial Day 2014 were read during the ceremony at the War Memorial, joining 296 fellow citizens of the commonwealth, including Virginia National Guard Soldiers lost to hostile enemy action since September 11, 2001. Maj. Gen. Timothy P. Williams, the Adjutant General of Virginia, and his wife Cheryl placed the Virginia National Guard wreath at the Eternal Flame in the Shrine of Memory honoring the Virginia National Guard. Members of the Virginia Defense Force volunteered their time to provide traffic assistance for the event.

“There is perhaps no greater example of service and sacrifice in Virginia National Guard history than the invasion of Normandy, France on June 6, 1944,” Maj. Gen. Timothy P. Williams, the Adjutant General of Virginia, wrote in his Memorial Day message. “More than 800 members of the 116th Infantry were killed, wounded or missing during the assault on Omaha Beach, but their courage and bravery helped create a foothold that allowed follow on forces to continue the assault and set the stage for Allied victory in Europe. We also remember the 10 Soldiers in the Virginia National Guard who paid the ultimate price while on federal active duty as a result of hostile enemy action in support of the Global War on Terror. It is important that we never forgot these brave men, and we should keep their families in our thoughts and prayers during the time of remembrance.”

Soldiers from the Virginia National Guard’s Funeral Honors Team provide a firing party salute at the 2015 Memorial Day Ceremony May 25, 2015, at the Virginia Veterans Cemetery in Amelia, Va. (Photo by Capt. Andrew J. Czaplicki, Virginia National Guard Public Affairs)

Soldiers from the Virginia National Guard’s Funeral Honors Team provide a firing party salute at the 2015 Memorial Day Ceremony May 25, 2015, at the Virginia Veterans Cemetery in Amelia, Va. (Photo by Capt. Andrew J. Czaplicki, Virginia National Guard Public Affairs)

Brig. Gen. Walter C. Mercer, the Virginia National Guard’s Assistant Adjutant General – Army, served as the keynote speaker at the Memorial Day Ceremony held in Amelia, Virginia National Guard Soldiers from the Clifton Forge-based 29th Division Band played ceremonial music and Soldiers from the Virginia National Guard’s Funeral Honors Team provided a firing party salute. As part of the observation, American flags were placed on all grave sites and 75 American flags were positioned along the perimeter of the cemetery.

“Let us make Memorial Day every day, by never failing to honor the men and women who gave their all,” Mercer said. “Their courage in the face of certain death will shine like a beacon on future generations through times of danger and uncertainty. Their sacrifice will serve as the staunchest of warnings to our enemies that we shall never abandon the cause of liberty.”

The following Virginia Guard Soldiers were lost to hostile enemy action since September 11, 2001:

Staff Sgt. Craig W. Cherry, 39, of Winchester, Va., and Sgt. Bobby E. Beasley, 36, of Inwood, W.Va., died on Aug. 7, 2004, in Ghazikel, Afghanistan, when their vehicle struck an improvised explosive device. Both Soldiers were assigned to the Army National Guard’s 3rd Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade, 29th Infantry Division, Winchester, Va.

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Sgt. Nicholas C. Mason, 20, of King George, Va., and Sgt. David A. Ruhren, 20, of Stafford, Va., died Dec. 21, 2004, in Mosul, Iraq, when their dining facility was attacked. Both were assigned to the Army National Guard’s 276th Engineer Battalion, West Point, Va.

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Col. Paul M. Kelly, 45, of Stafford, Va., and Sgt. 1st Class Darryl D. Booker, 37, of Midlothian, Va., died in Baghdad, Iraq, on Jan. 20, 2007, when the UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter they were in crashed. Kelly was assigned to the Joint Force Headquarters of the Virginia Army National Guard in Blackstone, Va., and Booker was assigned to the 29th Infantry Division, Virginia Army National Guard, Sandston, Va.

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Sgt. David E. Lambert, 39, of Cedar Bluff, Va., died Oct. 26, 2007, in Baghdad, Iraq, of wounds sustained from an improvised explosive device. He was assigned to the 237th Engineer Company, 276th Engineer Battalion, 91st Troop Command of the Virginia National Guard.

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Sgt. Derek R. Banks, 24, of Newport News, Va., died Nov. 14, 2007, in San Antonio of wounds suffered Oct. 25 in Baghdad, Iraq, when the vehicle he was in struck an improvised explosive device. He was assigned to the 237th Engineer Company, 276th Engineer Battalion, 91st Troop Command, Virginia National Guard, West Point, Va.

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Staff Sgt. Jeremiah E. McNeal, 23, of Norfolk, Va., died April 6, 2008, in Baghdad, Iraq, of wounds suffered when his vehicle encountered an improvised explosive device. He was assigned to the 237th Engineer Company, 276th Engineer Battalion, 91st Troop Command, Virginia Army National Guard, West Point, Va.

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Sgt. Jesse A. Ault, 28, of Dublin, Va., died April 9, 2008, in Baghdad, Iraq, from wounds suffered in Tunnis, Iraq, when his vehicle encountered an improvised explosive device. He was assigned to the 429th Brigade Support Battalion, Virginia Army National Guard, Roanoke, Va.

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Adjutant General’s 2015 Memorial Day Message:
http://vaguard.dodlive.mil/2015/05/21/7493/

Photos:

Commonwealth’s Memorial Day Ceremony honors fallen Virginians
https://www.flickr.com/photos/vaguardpao/sets/72157651101962594

Amelia’s Memorial Day Ceremony honors fallen Virginians
https://www.flickr.com/photos/vaguardpao/sets/72157653039257218