By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Michael Lopez

Navy Public Affairs Support Element Detachment Southeast

Tri-base Sailors from Naval Air Station (NAS) Jacksonville, Naval Station (NAVSTA) Mayport and Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay, Georgia participated in the City of Jacksonville's Memorial Day ceremony at the Veterans Memorial Wall May 29.

Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry and Vice Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Bill Moran served as the ceremony's keynote speakers. Rear Adm. Sean Buck, commander, U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command/U.S. 4th Fleet and Rear Adm. Bette Bolivar, commander, Navy Region Southeast, also attended the event with city leaders, veterans and nearly 1,000 patriotic guests who gathered to pay their respect to those who gave the ultimate sacrifice to the nation. 

"Jacksonville is a military town, and this wall is a key part of our city," said Curry. "We gather here today to pause, remember, honor and show gratitude for those who have sacrificed so much on behalf of our nation, our families, and ourselves."

During his remarks, Curry described how the military affected many facets of his life. 

"In my life, I've benefitted from the example of two Sailors and a Soldier," said Curry. "My father's naval career is what brought my family to Jacksonville. And both of my grandfathers served: one as a Sailor aboard USS Oklahoma (BB 37) during the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the other as a U.S. Army Ranger. All three taught me the value of honesty, a strong character, and a solid work ethic. I would not be the man I am today without their examples."

Moran shared his gratitude for every generation of warfighters. As one of the ceremony's keynote speakers, he said so many heroes have laid down their lives that they are often categorized by generations and conflicts they've fought in. 

"On this Memorial Day, let's speak less about categories of veterans, less about comparing them, and appreciate that every generation that has fought and served and died for this country has earned the title of the greatest generation, and we honor all of them today," said Moran. "We look to the future, knowing that, when America needs us, a new greatest generation will emerge."

NAS Jacksonville Commanding Officer Capt. Sean Haley and NAVSTA Mayport Commanding Officer Capt. David Yoder, along with other military representatives and civic leaders, placed wreaths in front of the wall to represent each branch of service, the City of Jacksonville, and one for each of the four new names etched on the black granite wall. Those names included: Christopher M. Colafati, Zachary M. Debeau, Micki R. Nixon and Wade F. Wilkenson.

"I think events like this bring us together and remind the community that not all veterans get to make it home," said Aviation Maintenance Administrationman 1st Class Rusty Crowdus, a Navy veteran who served from 1978 to 1998. "We get to see their names on this wall and recognize that they gave everything for the freedoms we have today."

Navy Band Southeast provided patriotic music for the event and a flyover was performed by a P-3C Orion from the "Red Lancers" of Patrol Squadron 10. 

The ceremony ended with the playing of Taps and observers took a closer look at the wall and the wreaths that were presented.