Memorial Day Respect and Reverence in the Rattler’s Shadow
SAN ANGELO, TX — Hundreds converged on the Concho Valley Vietnam Veterans Memorial at San Angelo Regional Airport Mathis Field Monday for the 20th anniversary of the monument honoring area Veterans.
The ceremony served as a rededication for Rattler 26, the UH-1 Huey Helicopter static display at the memorial. The Huey was vandalized last summer. The last straw was when a smoke and heat from a barbecue grill placed below the old copter discolored a major portion of the old paint. It was removed to be restored at Ranger Aviation and recently placed back at the Vietnam Veterans memorial.
Above: Friends greet one another and visit before the ceremony began. (LIVE! Photo/Joe Hyde)
Goodfellow Air Force Base 17th Training Wing Vice Commander Colonel Jeffery A. Sorrell was the featured speaker. Sorrell retold the story of Congressional Medal of Honor recipient Jack Mathis, the namesake of Mathis Field. Sorrell said Mathis was a bombardier who was mortally wounded yet completed his mission.
Sorrell said he learned the significance of Memorial Day while serving in Iraq. “When we lined up to honor those who had given the ultimate sacrifice for their country, Memorial Day became real for me.” The Vice Commander continued, “Memorial Day means freedom and liberty to me; it’s a day of remembrance and celebration.” He said, “Families who’ve lost loved ones grieve each and every day, not just on Memorial Day.”
Above: San Angelo Mayor Brenda Gunter at the memorial. (LIVE! Photo/Joe Hyde)
San Angelo Mayor Brenda Gunter gave brief remarks, “Thank You for your service and sacrifice.” She said. The Twin Mountain Tonesmen sang several songs throughout the memorial service. Many active duty military members were in attendance along with many veterans.
The ceremony also marked the dedication of two new pavers. The new pavers for Navy Veteran Dean Lee and Texas National Guard veteran James Leroy “Jim” Butt join over 650 pavers at the memorial.