SAN ANGELO, Texas --
Members from Goodfellow Air Force Base and the San Angelo community joined together Saturday to honor veterans during the Wreaths Across America ceremony hosted by the San Angelo Civil Air Patrol Dec. 15.
Wreaths Across America’s mission is to remember, honor and teach by coordinating wreath-laying ceremonies at Arlington National Cemetery as well as at more than 1,400 additional locations in all 50 states, at sea and abroad.
The ceremony began with the playing of the national anthem and the Goodfellow Joint Service Color Guard presented the colors.
Leaders from different service branches at Goodfellow then laid a special wreath to honor prisoners of war, missing in action, veterans and active duty serving in that branch.
Lt. Col. Gary Nussey, Civil Air Patrol San Angelo Composite Squadron commander, opened the ceremony with a quote from Ronald Reagan.
“Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it on to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.”
Nussey reminded attendees that through this ceremony we keep the memories of those who went before current service members alive.
The Civil Air Patrol San Angelo Composite Squadron has been hosting this event for 13 years, and this year there were 379 wreaths laid to honor veterans.
One aspect the San Angelo Composite Squadron’s mission is to instill discipline, organization and leadership into youths in the community who desire to honor and serve their country. They also promote careers in aviation, space and the military. They have been serving the Concho Valley since 1955 and in addition to youth programs also offer volunteer opportunities in airborne and ground team search and rescue, disaster relief, wildfire spotting and non-combatant support activities for the military.
“This is my first time attending at Goodfellow,” said Tech. Sgt. Steven Baptiste, 315th Training Squadron instructor. “At the end of the day anytime that you can show honor to those who have gone before us it is awesome. The fact that leadership from the base came out and participated made it even better.”
Other participants were aware of the Wreaths Across America mission, but got to experience it firsthand this year.
“This is the first year that we were able to attend,” said Jeanette Ramirez, a ceremony attendee. “We have donated in the past years but it was so nice to be able to come out and memorialize these heroes in this way just in time for the holidays.”