Lisa Sweet | Production Assistant
The Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 56 Riders honored the 13 service members who were killed Aug. 26 in an attack on the airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, with a ceremony Sept. 4 at the Leavenworth Veterans Memorial in Leavenworth.
Veterans, Gold Star families and other community members attended the tribute.
“It hopefully allows veterans to come together and heal, to talk with other veterans about how they are feeling to get through this tough time,” VFW Post 56 Commander retired Lt. Col. Rick Caya said.
Air Force veteran Wendell Espeland said he thought the event was important to
“It is important to honor our veterans who are protecting our rights, fighting the fight and carrying on it,” Espeland said.
The event began with the arrival of the VFW Post 56 Riders to the Leavenworth
Veterans Memorial at the entrance of the Eisenhower Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Leavenworth.
VFW Post 56 Trustee Lynn Wolf Jr. welcomed the crowd to what he referred to as hallowed ground.
“We are here to honor the 13 who gave their life, their final sacrifice in
Afghanistan,” Rolf said. “And today is a day to remember all service members’ sacrifices.”
The names of the 13 service members who died last month were read aloud, while VFW Rider Mike Haddock, who had the idea for the tribute, walked forward with a rose, laid
it upon the memorial and gave a final salute.
For some, hearing the names and seeing the flowers placed on the memorial hit close to home, including Garrett Gordon, Army veteran, and his wife, Christy Darling, Army veteran, who attended the ceremony.
“It is really very real for us — our 20-year-old son is a Marine — it’s a big deal,” Gordon said.
A short personal history was read about each of the 13 fallen service members, which included stories about why they were compelled to join their service, their commitment to their jobs and personal hometown stories. The histories were followed by the playing of taps.
The ceremony closed with the benediction by retired Army Chaplain (Col.) Gary “Sam” Sanford.
“This is a reminder that we don’t know about tomorrow. We celebrate the lives of these recently deceased heroes. Thirteen roses, 13 phone calls and 13 grieving families. Make the most of every day; fight the good fight.”