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Events will honor vets at local cemetery
SIERRA VISTA Herald/Review ^ | Bill Hess

Posted on 09/07/2011 4:03:30 PM PDT by SandRat

SIERRA VISTA — A pair of events to honor veterans will be held Friday and Tuesday at the Southern Arizona Veterans Memorial Cemetery off of Buffalo Soldier Trail.

One event will honor Army Air Forces fighter pilots of World War II, seven of whom are holding their last reunion in Arizona.

Included among the seven is Sierra Vista resident John Olmstead, 88, who flew on combat missions over Europe with the 374th Squadron, which was part of the 361st Fighter Group.

His wife, Nancy, said age is the main reason for making this the last reunion, as the former fighter pilots are in their late 80s and early 90s.

A memorial tribute to the pilots, which will include family members of former and now deceased members of the group, will take place at 11 a.m. at the cemetery’s committal shelter, during which the Rev. Greg Adolf, of St. Andrew the Apostle Roman Catholic Church in Sierra Vista, will officiate.

Also involved in the ceremony will be the Tucson-located Davis-Monthan Air Force Base Honor Guard.

On Tuesday, 17 sets of cremains of unclaimed veterans will be placed in niches in one of the cemetery’s columbaria.

This is the second time such a ceremony has been held at the state-operated facility.

In late April, the initial placing of 18 sets of veterans cremains and that of a wife of one of the veterans were placed in a columbaria as part of the national Missing in America Program.

The program is to provide military honors for the unclaimed remains of veterans, some who died indigent or were homeless.

In some cases, the cremains to be honored on Tuesday were unclaimed for periods of less than a year up to nearly 18 years with the deceased ranging in age from 51 to 79.

Most served short periods in the military, but one was a retired sailor. All were honorably discharged.

Among the 17 are eight soldiers, five sailors, three airmen and a Marine, and one, a soldier, served in World War II, with some serving during the Korean and Vietnam wars.

Tuesday morning, the cremains will leave Tucson and, along the way, they will be accompanied by veterans on motorcycles.

The hearse is scheduled to arrive at the cemetery at 11 a.m. and at 11:30 a.m. the committal service will begin.

The public, especially veterans, is invited to attend the ceremony.


TOPICS: Local News; Military/Veterans; Society
KEYWORDS: arizona; forgoten; honoring; vets

1 posted on 09/07/2011 4:03:34 PM PDT by SandRat
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