Altus Air Force Base Chief Master Sgt. Paul Pohnert offered a few comments Saturday before taking the first of 1,422 wreaths to the grave of Connie Ray Gardley, a U.S. Army Vietnam War veteran.
There, he solemly placed the wreath, stood up and read Gardley’s name aloud and thanked him for his service to the country, and then saluted him.
Disabled American Veterans Chapter 33 Commander Virgil Williams also gave some brief remarks about the importance of remembering and recognizing our veterans for their service.
Following the brief ceremony, about 120 volunteers placed the rest of the wreaths on graves of veterans as a part of the annual Wreaths Across America program. Each December on National Wreaths Across America Day, the Wreath Across America accomplishes its mission to “Remember, Honor and Teach” by coordinating wreath-laying ceremonies at Arlington National Cemetery, as well as more than 1,200 additional locations in all 50 U.S. states, at sea and abroad. It’s mission statement says its goal is to “remember our fallen U.S. veterans, honor those who serve and teach our children the value of freedom.”
Many of the volunteers on Saturday represented local scouting troops from the area including Girl Scout Troop 283.
At each grave, volunteers followed Pohnert’s example of laying the wreath, then thanking them outloud for his or her service.
This year’s event was hosted by the Air Force Sergeants’ Association at Altus Air Force Base and the ceremony was held at Altus Cemetery. The group buys the wreaths from the national headquarters of Wreaths Across America for $10 each.