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Honoring Veterans, Half a world away!

ASCENSION AIR STATION -- In America, Veterans Day is a time to remember those who took a noble calling to defend and protect the United States. On Ascension Island, 45th Operations Group, Detachment 2, plays an important role in the annual "Remembrance Day" ceremony honoring veterans of both the United States and England.

In preparation for this event there were two practices at St Mary's church where the Det 2 team and I worked out details of the service with the minister, Reverend Don Wittich, and three members of the Royal Air Force, to include the UK Base Commander, Wing Commander Taylor. The starkest contrast between USAF / RAF: the marching. It was interesting to see how differently the RAF is trained to march as compared to the USAF.

The service gave opportunity for all entities on this geographically small but culturally rich island to pay honor to veterans. Island Boy and Girl Scout troops posted flags for Ascension Island. Thirteen wreaths were laid in tribute representing a different island entity, from the Island Administrator to the owner of telecommunications.

Among the highlights of the ceremony: a two minute period of silence, where both Wing Commander Taylor and I rendered a salute, a moving address from Reverend Wittich, solemn readings from the youth of the island and other island representatives, and my recital of the Kohima Epitaph: "When you go home, tell them of us and say, for your tomorrow, we gave our today."

The magnitude of being a representative of the United States was never as prevalent as it was for this ceremony. All of our movements with the US flag during the ceremony were closely monitored. All of my actions, from my salutes rendered to the neatness of my service dress were heavily scrutinized. It is a heavy, but awesome, undertaking.

It is vital that as we move forward into uncertain times we don't forget the roads that led us to this juncture as well as those who sacrificed to pave those roads. This message should be carried everywhere the Air Force travels, from the United States of America to a tiny island in the South Atlantic Ocean.