EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. — Dressed in the bright whites, deep blues and dense blacks of their service uniforms, Airmen, Marines, Sailors, and Soldiers came together once again May 7 to honor and remember their fallen explosive ordnance disposal brethren during the annual memorial ceremony at the Kauffman EOD Training Complex here.
Approximately 500 people ventured to the EOD Memorial Wall this year, as six new names were added to the engraved lists that now contain 320 people. The 2016 event marked the ceremony's 47th year.
Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III, the ceremony's guest speaker, shared heartfelt sentiments to the families of fallen technicians in attendance. He recounted the heartbreaking stories behind each of the new names added this year.
"I hope each of the gold star families here finds peace in the fact your loved one died protecting others and they committed their lives to that endeavor," Welsh said. "We celebrate this sacred place as a beacon for every Soldier, Sailor, Airman and Marine who follow the trail these heroes blazed."
Each year, a wreath is placed in front of each branch of service's list of names before they are read aloud. After each list is completed, the names are saluted by an enlisted and officer EOD member.
The families of EOD technicians added to the wall each year receive a folded flag that was flown over the memorial.
The ceremony concluded with an honor guard rifle volley and the playing of Taps. Afterward, families and EOD technicians both past and present descended upon the wall for pictures, to touch the engraved brass name or just remember a fallen hero.
"This wall represents both an ending and a beginning," Welsh said. "To the EOD warriors, continue to embrace your heritage as fiercely as you defend our nation."
Names added this year include: Army Tech. Sgt. Louis Brovetto, Pvt. Clinton Mullenix and 1st Lt. Mack Jarrett; Marine Staff Sgt. David Lyon; and Navy Chief Petty Officer William Meadville and Lt. j.g. Gardner Hutchins.