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Honoring local veterans through Wreaths Across America

U.S. Air Force Col. Ricky Mills, 17th Training Wing commander, shows honor and respect for veterans and active duty members serving in the Air Force with a wreath symbolizing that branch of the armed forces during the Wreaths Across America ceremony at Belvedere Memorial Cemetery, San Angelo, Texas, Dec. 15, 2018. Other leaders from Goodfellow each laid a wreath representing all veterans and duty members from the different branches. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Seraiah Hines/ Released)

U.S. Air Force Col. Ricky Mills, 17th Training Wing commander, shows honor and respect for veterans and active duty members serving in the Air Force with a wreath symbolizing that branch of the armed forces during the Wreaths Across America ceremony at Belvedere Memorial Cemetery, San Angelo, Texas, Dec. 15, 2018. Other leaders from Goodfellow each laid a wreath representing all veterans and duty members from the different branches. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Seraiah Hines/ Released)

Members from the Civil Air Patrol San Angelo Composite Squadron prepare to hand out wreaths to members from Goodfellow during the Wreaths Across America event held at Belvedere Memorial Cemetery, San Angelo, Texas, Dec. 15, 2018. The San Angelo Composite Squadron has been hosting this event for 13 years. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Seraiah Hines/Released)

Members from the Civil Air Patrol San Angelo Composite Squadron prepare to hand out wreaths to members from Goodfellow during the Wreaths Across America event held at Belvedere Memorial Cemetery, San Angelo, Texas, Dec. 15, 2018. The San Angelo Composite Squadron has been hosting this event for 13 years. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Seraiah Hines/Released)

Leaders from Goodfellow salute as the Goodfellow Joint Service Color Guard retires the colors and taps is played, honoring veterans who gave the ultimate sacrifice for freedom at the Wreaths Across America ceremony held in the Belvedere Cemetery, San Angelo, Texas, Dec. 15, 2018. After the ceremony members from the base and community laid wreaths on the gravestones of veterans as a way to honor them and their sacrifice. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Seraiah Hines/ Released)

Leaders from Goodfellow salute as the Goodfellow Joint Service Color Guard retires the colors and taps is played, honoring veterans who gave the ultimate sacrifice for freedom at the Wreaths Across America ceremony held in the Belvedere Cemetery, San Angelo, Texas, Dec. 15, 2018. After the ceremony members from the base and community laid wreaths on the gravestones of veterans as a way to honor them and their sacrifice. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Seraiah Hines/ Released)

Wreaths adorn the gravestones of veterans at the Belvedere Memorial Cemetery after the Wreaths Across America event in San Angelo, Texas, Dec. 15, 2018. This year the San Angelo Composite Squadron was able, through donations, to provide 379 wreaths for volunteers. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Seraiah Hines/ Released)

Wreaths adorn the gravestones of veterans at the Belvedere Memorial Cemetery after the Wreaths Across America event in San Angelo, Texas, Dec. 15, 2018. This year the San Angelo Composite Squadron was able, through donations, to provide 379 wreaths for volunteers. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Seraiah Hines/ Released)

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.”