By Lt. Col. Jim Keefe, Vice Commander, 104th Fighter Wing
/ Published May 21, 2008
BARNES AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Massachusetts -- As we move closer to becoming mission capable in our new aircraft, we will continue to be faced with additional challenges. This weekend will be the first drill where we have our full compliment of F-15C aircraft and the completion of yet another milestone in our BRAC conversion. May, the month of Memorial Day, is an opportune time to reflect on the sacrifices of our fellow countrymen who paid the ultimate price in the defense of freedom.
I can not enter the base without thinking about our legacy and the people who worked to put us where we are today. Leaders like Stefanik, Slasienski, Shaughnessy, Gaw, and the many others whose names are not inscribed on plaques or stones...dedicated their lives to our beliefs, our values, and our cause.
This weekend we will take an hour to venerate the lives of former 104 FW personnel who lost their lives while in service of their country. We will read each name as it is inscribed on the plaque in remembrance of what they did, and why we do what we do...the cause of freedom, the love of country, and the sense of family.
1st Lt. Edward W. Meacham, Monomoy Point, MA, 17 August 1948
Maj. Robert Anderstrom, Granby, CT, 7 May 1954
1st Lt. Richard Brown, Granville, MA, 19 October 1954
Tech. Sgt. Austin A. Cooper, Granville, MA, 19 October 1954
Capt. Frank A. Gibe, Westfield, MA, 28 July 1956
Maj. Richard W. Mahoney, New Orleans, LA, 22 April 1961
1st Lt. Joseph F. Crehore, Chalons, France, 21 March 1962
Capt. Hugh M. Lavalle, Upstate New York, 16 November 1963
Capt. John H. Harris, Westfield, MA, 17 July 1964
Maj. James Romanowicz, Granby, MA, 1 Feb 1965
Capt. Leonard E. Bannish, Wilkes-Barre, PA, 30 May 1968
Maj. John S. Southrey, Wells, NY, 17 September 1986
These individuals all paid the ultimate sacrifice, to pave the way for what we are doing today.
Take a minute this weekend to think about the folks whose names are above, as well as the millions of heroes who have passed in the defense of our nation. Every day thousands of veterans are laid to rest, and often their stories are never known. I urge you to think of these members of our families...more importantly think of their character, their values and learn from their example.
I know that this unit is made up of some of the most talented and dedicated airman in the guard; proven recently by Lt. Gen. McKinley presenting Air National Guard and Reserve Command level winners, but we must not rest on our laurels. We can, and will continue to succeed. We will have challenges and even some small set-backs, but we will triumph in our quest of being the greatest air superiority base in the nation, with your help, living up to the traditions of the brave men and women of the 104th who have gone before us.