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ALS grads pay homage to veterans

PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- The soft, echoing voice of a fallen Vietnam Veteran broke the dead silence as he spoke to his family - telling them everything was OK. The veteran, his mother, wife and son, played by members of the Airman Leadership School, Class 05-1, held the nearly 200 guests mesmerized during the opening ceremony of the ALS graduation at The Tides Nov. 15.

"It gave me goose bumps," said Staff Sgt. Carl Morlock, ALS instructor.

A giant image of the Vietnam Memorial Wall projected on a screen served as the prop as students from the class played fictional family members touching the wall and bowing their heads in sorrow as the silhouette behind the wall spoke. "Carry on with your life and don't worry about me," he said to his wife. Then to the audience: "I can see as I look into her eyes, a big burden has been lifted from her."

The silhouette, representing the veteran, was played by Senior Airman Thomas Hackert, 45th Space Communications Squadron. The veteran's voice was spoken by Senior Airman Jacob Gerold, AFTAC.

The mother, Senior Airman Heather Anderson, 2nd Space Operations Squadron; the wife, Senior Airman KerryAnn Moore, 45th SCS and the son, Senior Airman Josh Spainhoward, 333rd Recruiting Squadron, were all silent.

"The ceremony was well put together and very professional," said Chief Master Sgt. Michael Lintz, 45th Security Forces Squadron manager. "The Airmen seemed to take the ceremony very seriously and understand it was a very solemn event."

"We put a lot of work into it because we knew it had a lot of meaning," said Airman Hackert.

The tribute was performed in conjunction with Veterans Day. "We pitched the idea to them because it's a very powerful piece and because Veterans Day was coming," said Sergeant Morlock.

He said the class quickly voted unanimously because it was a topic that seemed to touch each one personally. "They took the idea and went head first," he said. "The performed nearly all the work themselves and did a very professional job."
Chief Lintz said these ceremonies are crucial to remembering fallen comrades of any era.

"It's very important not to forget those who have made the ultimate sacrifice to defend our freedom and to remember we are a nation at war and we have brothers and sisters joining them every day."