Col. Mike Escudie of the United States Central Command at MacDill AFB in Tampa looked out at the packed, newly renamed Veterans Theater at the Kings Point North Clubhouse on Monday and commented that he wasn’t sure if he had ever been in a room with so many veterans.
Indeed, it was standing room only as veterans from World War II, Korea, Vietnam and the Gulf wars, along with Americans of all walks, came to remember and honor those who served, and, specifically, those who gave all for their nation — either in battle or after.
Among other things, Col. Escudie spoke of the need for young people to learn from and benefit from the experiences of the veterans, so that their missions, their sacrifices, their honor and their knowledge would never be forgotten.
The Grand Marshal for the event was Col. Roy Conklin (USA-Ret), and the music was provided by the Trinity Baptist Church Choir, directed by Rev. James Feist, a U.S. Air Force veteran, who also played taps. The colors were presented by the East Bay High School JROTC Color Guard. Rosemary Clifton (USN-vet), Lt. Col. Gordon Basset (USAF-Ret), Lt. Col. Julian Graham (USA-Ret) and Cmdr. Ed Socha (USN-Ret) read the roll call of those lost since last year’s ceremony. The wreath was carried to the half-staff U.S. Flag by Boy Scout Troop 661.