Communities celebrate Memorial Day

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Memorial Day is set aside to honor those who gave the ultimate sacrifice in defense of our nation. Communities throughout the country celebrated with parades and ceremonies.

In Carthage, a parade hosted by the Bassett-Baxter American Legion Post 789 and Veterans of Foreign Wars Dionne-Rumble Post 7227 was held concluding at with a ceremony at the Soldiers and Sailors Monument on State Street.

Keynote speaker for the day was Col. Travis L. McIntosh, Commander of the 19th Combat Aviation Brigade at Fort Drum.

“It is a reminder as to why America, democracy and freedom, are still worth fighting for,” Col. McIntosh said. “One request from the Colonel today. Please, learn about the fallen and tell their story. Each Memorial Day, I make a point to tell stories about our fallen servicemen and women and today I have the opportunity share with you, from the heart.”

He went on to tell of a fellow West Point cadet Brian Freeman who he met in 1996, an aviator Kimberly Hampton and John Bolling, an Army instructor pilot and career aviator.

“Brian and four other Americans died in an ambush on Jan. 20, 2007 in Karbala, Iraq,” the colonel said. “He gave it all, in defense of the nation he loved. A hero.”

Col. McIntosh described Lt. Hampton the most driven lieutenant he has ever kown.

“We were both on the 82nd Airborne’s first deployments to Afghanistan and Iraq in 2002 and 2003,” he said. “Kimberly died during our Iraq deployment on Jan 2, 2004 when her helicopter was shot down near Fallujah, Iraq. The first American female pilot in history to be shot down and killed by enemy fire. A hero.”

Bolling was the second highest time Blackhawk trainer in the Army.

“I was with John when we brought him to the emergency room after a fatal helicopter crash on Saturday March 10, 2007,” said the colonel. “John died at 61, training young Army pilots in a Blackhawk. A legacy among Army Aviation. Now a hero.”

During his 24 years in the Army including six years total of overseas service, the colonel has had more than his share of loss as have many other members of the armed forces.

“Seven of my college classmates died in the War on Terror; we lost over a brigade’s worth of helicopters and a battalion’s worth of aircrews in 20 years of war,” he said. “We mourn alongside our cherished Gold Star and surviving families. Therefore, I believe it’s important to talk about these heroes whenever given the opportunity.”

He concluded his speech with a message for Memorial Day.

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