1st CMXS Airmen pay tribute to WWII vets

Story and photo by Maj. Michael Phillips
1st Communications Maintenance Squadron commander

***image1***Thirty-five members from the 86th Airlift Wing’s 1st Communications Maintenance Squadron, including two local nationals, ventured out on a crisp and cold European morning to honor 10,489 of America’s sons and daughters who fought in World War II, paid the ultimate sacrifice for their country and have since been laid to rest in the American Cemetery outside St. Avold. Included in this staggering number are 11 women, 28 pairs of brothers and four Medal of Honor recipients.

We were greeted by retired Soldier Walter Benjamin, the assistant superintendent, who aided us with our participation and tour. 

Master Sgt. Brian Tong, Tech. Sgt. Jung Murphy, Staff Sgt. Katie Glidden and Senior Airman Mayra Duarte performed a simultaneous flag raising on two flagpoles while the 1st CMXS stood in formation saluting the flag and the heroes who died for it.
Mr. Benjamin took us on a walk throughout the cemetery, stopping at various grave sites and sharing more stories.  One stop was at the grave of Frederick Murphy, a medic and a Medal of Honor recipient from Massachusetts, who lost his life in a minefield while trying to provide medical care to fellow Soldiers.

As compelling as his story was, it was the story of the Soldier that lay next to him that I think truly grabbed the hearts of my Dragons, as it belonged to a Soldier whose remains were not found. There are 151 such graves at Lorraine, and a large wall to the north and south of the chapel has the names of each of these Soldiers and Airmen inscribed.

Given that each earned the honor of having a marker placed at their grave, the staff’s only request to us was to read those names from the wall, keeping the memory of that particular Soldier or Airmen alive. It was truly an inspiring moment.