Walking with honor
A military veteran always walks across the ground with a special honor on Veterans Day, but the holiday this year in Gulf County will stand out with the unveiling of an Honor Walk beneath those vets’ feet.
On Wednesday, Nov. 11, beginning at 11 a.m. ET, Veterans Memorial Park at Beacon Hill will be the site of a dedication ceremony for the new Honor Walk at the rejuvenated park.
The prayers led by Jerry Blosser, chaplain of the John C Gainous VFW Post 10069 in Port St. Joe will open the ceremony, with the American flag then raised by the honor guards from 601st Air Operations Center and the young people from the Gulf County NJROTC.
Mary Lou Cumbie will sing the National Anthem, the drama intensified by the USAF fighter jet flyover by aircraft from the 325th Fighter Wing at Tyndall Air Force Base.
Following the Pledge of Allegiance lead by Joe Paul, George Duren will deliver remarks on behalf of the Honor Walk committee, which also includes Don Butler, Brian Cahill, Rodney Herring, Rick Lamberson, Joe Paul, Ralph Rish, Jessica Susich and Bill Traylor.
The keynote speaker will be Maj. Gen. Brian M. Simpler, Air National Guard assistant to the commander of the Continental United States North American Aerospace Defense Command Region and First Air Force at Tyndall, where he advises on all policies and programs relating to the Air National Guard. He assists the commander to organize, equip and operate air defense forces for the continental U.S., including the three distinct missions: homeland air defense for the continental United States, aerial support of civil authorities, and theater security cooperation for North America.
Simpler served as the assistant adjutant general with the Florida Air National Guard and as its commander, where he was responsible for mission readiness, operations, and coordination of 11 Florida Air National Guard units at seven geographically separated sites. His scope of responsibility included $550 million in facilities and equipment, $750 million in aircraft, $120 million in operating budgets, and command of 2,000 personnel.
A May 1989 graduate of the Air Force Academy with a bachelor of science degree in humanities, Simpler completed undergraduate pilot training at Reese Air Force Base, Lubbock, Texas. He participated in military operations to include Operations Provide Comfort, Northern Watch and Southern Watch.
The ceremony will close with the singing of America the Beautiful by Cumbie, and Amazing Grace by Laura Kerr.