Ceremony honors fallen WWII fighters

1st Lt. Brian Carpenter
86th Airlift Wing Air & Space
Communications Group

***image1***Sixteen Airmen from the 86th Airlift Wing Air & Space Communications Group, as well as members of the 52nd Fighter Wing from Spangdahlem Air Base, helped honor America’s WWII fallen Airmen and Soldiers during a Memorial Day ceremony May 29 at Luxembourg American Cemetery.
“Many people remember the cemetery as the final resting place of General George Patton, buried at the head of thousands of Soldiers,” said Col. Mike Lewis, 86th ACOMG commander. “However, most fail to realize that among the buried lay hundreds of gallant U.S. Army Air Forces Airmen who also gave their lives to ensure Europe’s freedom.”
Leland Atkinson, superintendent of the Luxembourg American Cemetery and 24-year U.S. Army veteran, said this year’s ceremony was especially important because it marked the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Luxembourg. He said the Luxembourgers assist the American Battle Monument’s Commission every year in commemorating Memorial Day.
Mr. Atkinson, now in his 6th year as Luxembourg Superintendent, welcomed numerous dignitaries.
Other ceremony activities included an F-16 fly-over and a Color Guard presentation by members from Spangdahlem Air Base. Additionally, each grave received an American and Luxembourg flag, along with a single red rose, donated by the U.S. Veterans Friends Luxembourg.
Retired U.S. Air Force Col. John Parker has been participating in this annual event for more than 20 years. This year, he and Colonel Lewis laid a wreath at the cemetery on behalf of the Second Air Division Association, U.S. 8th Air Force. Colonel Parker, a WWII 457th Bomb Wing veteran, flew 30 combat missions aboard the B-17.
A 21-gun salute and benediction closed an awe-inspiring ceremony on a beautiful day of remembrance and honor.