F-100 Rededication honors fallen heroes

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Bonnie Harper
  • 104th Fighter Wing
An F-100 memorial rededication ceremony was held on May 5 at Barnes Air National Guard Base, Westfield, Mass., honoring the memory of 12 unit members who have given their lives in performance of their duties to the state and country.

"We as a Nation, need to remain focused on the reason we mark May the month of memorials," said Col. Tony Gwosch, the 104th Vice Wing Commander. "We are able to stand here proudly, free from tyranny and oppression, because many brave generations came before us and gave of themselves so that we could be free."

The F-100 monument was originally dedicated on May 17, 1987, by the Chief Master Sergeants Council, and has stood as a constant reminder of the impact of these guardsmen in the history of the unit. Engraved upon the memorial are the names of unit members who passed away in aviation related events:
  • 1st Lt. Edward W. Meacham, Monomoy Point, Mass., Aug. 17, 1948
  • Maj. Robert Anderstrom, Granby, Conn., May 7, 1954
  • 1st Lt. Richard Brown, Granville, Mass., Oct. 19, 1954
  • Tech. Sgt. Austin A. Cooper, Granville, Mass., Oct. 19, 1954
  • Capt. Frank A. Gibe, Westfield, Mass., July 28, 1956
  • Maj. Richard W. Mahoney, New Orleans, La., April 22, 1961
  • 1st Lt. Joseph F. Crehore, Chalons, France, March 21, 1962
  • Capt. Hugh M. Lavalle, Upstate New York, Nov. 16, 1963
  • Capt. John H. Paris, Westfield, Mass., July 17, 1964
  • Maj. James Romanowicz, Granby, Mass., Feb. 1, 1965
  • Capt. Leonard E. Bannish, Wilkes-Barre, Pa., May 30, 1968
  • Maj. John S. Southrey, Wells, N.Y., Sept. 17, 1986
"As we stand around this memorial," said Col. Gwosch, "I cannot help but to think of our team, who are away from home right now, prepared to carry the flag if called. I am assured from our leadership overseas that everyone is doing well and that they are all focused and succeeding in their mission."

The ceremony also honored current unit members by celebrating recent achievements through the presentation of awards, including the Air Force Outstanding Unit award, which was earned by the 104th for the eighth time.

"This recognition is well deserved, and fitting to be presented here, because it signifies that the values and traditions of our fallen heroes continue today," said Maj. Gen. Scott Rice, the acting Adjutant General of the Mass. ANG and one of the distinguished visitors for the event. "It also reinforces that the culture of excellence, established from this unit's forefathers, is still alive and well, in each one of you. This unit's proud tradition of excellence is what makes it so special."

Staff Sgt. Travis Wilson, from Ludlow, Mass., received the National Guard Bureau Crew Chief of the Year Award for his outstanding contributions toward the Aerospace Control Alert mission during various operations, exercises and inspections while assigned as an F-15 crew chief here.

Tech. Sgt. Dana Thayer, from Westfield, was recognized as the Air National Guard and First Air Force Security Forces Non-commissioned officer of the year through his accomplishments in working with base security systems, equipment, and supporting the ACA mission. In addition, the 104th Security Force Squadron was selected as the 2011 Air National Guard and Air Reserve Component Security Forces Unit of the Year. Maj. Steve Reynolds, the Security Forces Commander, was there to accept the award on behalf of his unit.

"These are not wing or state awards," said Col. Gwosch, acknowledging the award winners and unit members. "These are national level awards-- you are the best in the country."

Members of the 104th continue to provide support throughout the world, with group and individual deployments, being trained and ready 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The awards presented and people recognized at this ceremony validate the excellence of unit members both past and present.

Other distinguished visitors at the ceremony who came to show their support, in addition to Maj. Gen. Rice and his wife, Nancy, were Lt. Col. Emille Bryant, the NGB global mobility branch chief, and Mass. Rep. Don Humason (R-Westfield).

The wing is grateful for the support, historical and ongoing, from the local communities, families and friends. Without support such as this, the 104th could not maintain relevance in today's defense environment.