JACKSONVILLE – The 30-year anniversary of Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm and northeast Florida veterans’ contributions were commemorated Saturday, Feb. 27, at the Cecil Field POW/MIA …
JACKSONVILLE – The 30-year anniversary of Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm and northeast Florida veterans’ contributions were commemorated Saturday, Feb. 27, at the Cecil Field POW/MIA Memorial with a ceremony.
“We need to remember [also] the people who went to Desert Storm; two units from Jacksonville went,” said Charles Fails, an Orange Park resident and an Army veteran who served during the war. “One from the Army Reserve, and one from the Florida National Guard. Citizen Soldiers. People who live[d] here. People who were born here, married here, they went to Desert Storm.” Fails served with the 202nd Medical Group Headquarters, which received a Meritorious Unit Award for its work during the operation.
“Having actually served in Desert Storm off the USS Roosevelt, and flying off that ship, this means a lot, as the 30th anniversary,” said retired Navy Capt. Edmund Turner of Fleming Island, who currently serves on the board of the Cecil Field POW/MIA Memorial. “Having served here six tours, this field means a lot to me. This is a great opportunity to celebrate that anniversary and also to see some of those heroes and vets that served here and served our country.”
Approximately 300 hundred people attended. A mixed service color guard was present, performing its regular duties of posting and retiring the colors (service and national flags) before and after the ceremony. A variety of service members, retirees and civilians also attended.
Part of the event was the dedication of the Aircrewman Memorial and Gold-Star families memorial.
The emotional sentiment from the veterans who were present was a mixed bag. Some were in high spirits about recognizing servicepeople and area units that participated in a dominating U.S.-led coalition effort against invading Iraqi forces in Kuwait.
Others were somber.
“It’s unfortunate, especially with a lot of people today; we forget some of the people what they did and what they went through and everything else,” Fails said. “We have people who left their families here, civilian jobs, and picked up and went to a desert, but we did our job and did our duty to our country and also the state of Florida.”
“Deep down in my heart, it means a lot,” said retired Command Sgt. Maj. Frank Torres. “All the people that served, even if they didn’t serve in Iraq, they should come here and appreciate our freedom. I went to Vietnam and Iraq. This kind of ceremony is always – I go 100%.”