CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION Plaque Dedication Ceremony
23 October 2009
President, 317th Veterans Group
Ladies and Gentlemen please take this time to find your seats, and ensure your cell phones and electronic devices are turned off for the duration of the ceremony.
Good Afternoon Ladies and Gentlemen, I am Mr. Bill Lloyd, President, of the 317th Veterans Group, and your Narrator for today’s ceremony. The presiding official for today’s event is General Norton Schwartz, Chief of Staff, United States Air Force. Joining Gen Schwartz on stage is Ms. Elizabeth Stuart, the designated representative for the families.
At this time, I would like to recognize and thank several special guests in attendance today:
Mrs. Suzie Schwartz, wife of Gen Schwartz
Col Andre’ Lovett, Vice Commander, 45th Space Wing
Lt Col Charles Howard, 39th Airlift Squadron Commander, 317th Airlift Group, Dyess Air Force Base
Col Patrice Le Mao, French Air Force Ret., President of the Evreux French-American Veterans Association
Col Annie Grimal-Le Mayo, French Air Force, Retired
The many family members of the 13 airmen being honored today
And the men and women of the 45th Space Wing
Please stand for the arrival of the honor party and remain standing for the playing of ruffles and flourishes, the posting of the colors by the Patrick Air Force Base Honor Guard, and the playing of the National Anthem
Official Party enters. Once on stage, Ruffles and Flourishes are played
Gen Schwartz States Present the Colors
HG Presents Colors
COMM Plays National Anthem
HG Posts Colors then departs
Chaplain Mark Williams will now offer the invocation
Thank you Chaplain Williams. Ladies and gentlemen, please be seated. On behalf of the 317th veterans, welcome to this ceremony. We are here to dedicate a memorial in honor of 13 Airmen that paid the ultimate sacrifice for their country: our sons, husbands, fathers, brothers, colleagues and friends. They were the first causalities of the dawning space program and this memorial will ensure their sacrifice will not be forgotten. This memorial is also a testament to those who serve their country and will remind future generations of airmen the sacrifice of those who came before them.
We were involved in Project Mercury from the start. Several of us present today were on the first contingency recovery mission to Africa for John Glenn’s Friendship 7 flight and several here today went to Kenya the day after the fatal crash so the orbital flight of Scott Carpenter could go on as scheduled. These NASA missions continue today and the Air Force has been involved in every manned space flight since the very first one.
I would like to thank the staff of the 45th Space Wing for their assistance in allowing this proud day to take place. The 45th Space Wing receives hundreds of special requests each year from organizations wishing to visit Cape Canaveral. We started this process over a year ago and every step was handled in a friendly and helpful professional manner by the multitude of staffers that have to be involved. And that was before they knew the BOSS was coming! It couldn’t have happened without them.
We are extremely grateful and honored the 45th Space wing selected the entrance to the historic Launch Complex 14 for this memorial, where the Mercury 7 astronauts were launched into space.
Let me assure the families that the veterans who served in Evreux have never forgotten your loved ones. Many of their friends are here today to help us honor them.
I met Gen Schwartz a year ago at the Air Force Association Conference. I told him I served as a maintainer for the C-130A. He immediately started talking louder. He is very familiar with the A model, been there, done that! It is my high honor to introduce General Norton Schwartz, Air Force Chief of Staff.
.Click Here for General Schwartz's speech.
Thank you Gen Schwartz. We are honored that you could take the time to join us today.
I would now like to introduce to you Ms. Elizabeth Stuart, the daughter of Capt John Stuart, Jr. Ms. Stuart was asked to represent the families of those we are honoring today. She was 8 years old living on Evreux Air Base with the family at the time of the crash. Her enthusiastic support and contributions are an integral part of this ceremony. She is currently serving the Air Force at Lackland Air Force Base, as an English as a Second Language (ESL) Instructor. Ms. Stuart, if you would please come forward and say a few words.
Good afternoon distinguished guests, active duty military, members of the 317th Veterans Group, friends and family members of the Sabol, Stuart, White, Revell, Hake, Phillips, Boyd, Jackson, Neal, Leonard, Miller, Fisher and Laslow families.
My name is Elizabeth Stuart and I represent the 13 families for whom we are dedicating this plaque today. The American educator, clergyman and poet Henry Van Dyke understood how we have felt though the years. In his poem Time Is, he stated: “Time is too slow for those who wait, too swift for those who fear, too long for those who grieve, too short for those who rejoice; but for those who love, time is eternity.”
The year 2009 celebrates the Air Force Family, and so it seems uniquely fitting that we are here today to remember and honor our 13 Airmen. For us, the families and friends they left behind, the Ngong Hill of Kenya are a reminder of how far flung our Air Force family was on May 17, 1962. It is a measure of the enduring and unbreakable bond we share with each other that we are once again gathered here to be with our extended family to share our memories, our sorrow and our pride in the lives lost 16,960 days ago. At long last, the contribution our sons, brothers, uncles, husbands, fathers, grandfathers and great grandfathers made to the success of the Project Mercury manned space program is being recognized.
All too often we read about accidents and it’s easy to forget that the statistics listed are real people who meant the world to their families and friends. Today, the families of Frank Sabol, Jack Stuart, Doug White, Tom Revell, Jack Hake, Oliver Phillips, Dick Boyd, RD Jackson, Tommy Neal, Frank Leonard, Mike Miller, Freddie Fisher, and Roy Laslow want the world to know how proud we are of our heroes. We are here to celebrate the lives of 13 young, vibrant men who answered their Nation when duty called, who served with dedication, honor, and distinction and whose commitment to the cause of freedom never wavered. Today, we can rejoice and shout from the rooftops that they lived, oh, how they lived!! Perhaps now, the time to mourn is over and the time to dance has begun and the closure we have long sought will finally be realized.
There are no words which can adequately express our sincere gratitude to the 317th Veterans Group for remembering our Airmen through the years and for organizing today’s dedication. It has been a bittersweet and glorious day for us and we thank you from the bottom of our hearts.
We also want to give special thanks to Bill Lloyd, President of the 317th Veterans Group, Vicki Key of the Dreux Alumni Association and Ed Merck of the Evreux Alumni Association for their untiring efforts to find all 13 families. We are forever in your debt. What may have seemed like a simple act of kindness to you has been monumental for the 13 families.
Mike Miller’s younger brother, Kris, summed up our feelings perfectly when he wrote “This will be one more cherished memory we have to tuck away in our hearts and minds forever.” In closing, it has been a humbling and awe inspiring experience to know that the men we loved have not been forgotten by their fellow Airmen.
May they rest in peace at last.
After comments Ms. Stuart moves to the left side of the easel holding the plaque.
I would like to ask Gen Schwartz to join Ms. Stuart and assist with the unveiling of the plaque.
Gen Schwartz and Ms. Stuart will now unveil the plaque
After unveiling Gen Schwartz and Ms. Stuart return to their seats
I will now read the names of the Airmen that we are honoring. Will the family members come forward when your loved one’s name is read and place a flower at the memorial:
Major Frank Sabol
Capt John W. Stuart Jr
1st Lt Douglass G. White
TSgt Thomas P. Revell
TSgt Jack S. Hake
TSgt James O. Phillips
SSgt Richard E. Boyd
SSgt Russell D. Jackson Jr
SSgt Thomas J. Neal
A1C Frank J. Leonard
A1C Ervin M. Miller
A2C Frederick D. Fisher
A2C L. Roy Laslow
Ladies and Gentlemen, please stand for the playing of TAPS
Please be seated. I know all of you share my belief that preserving the 317th airlift Group heritage is not only a responsibility, it is our tremendous privilege. With this memorial we have made another contribution to that heritage. Thank you for being here today on this historic occasion where future visitors will be reminded of the sacrifice these Airmen paid to the space age. They will not be forgotten.
Please stand for the departure of the official party.
This concludes today’s ceremony, thank you for coming.