Veterans Memorial Park ceremony salutes Kent County fallen soldiers

DOVER — During the overcast and drizzly Memorial Day ceremony, a somber, solitary bell ting echoed in the park after each fallen soldier’s name was read aloud. Delaware Veterans Coalition President Dave Skocik said he felt a touch of magic as the rain let up and a bagpiper playing “Amazing Grace” rounded the memorial stones.

“It was almost magical the way the breeze came by when the pipers were playing,” he said “I felt the breeze on my face for the first time in the day and it didn’t bring rain with it. It feels like sometimes these things happen for a reason.”

On Monday, over a hundred people gathered in Kent County Veterans Memorial Park in Dover to participate in a remembrance service dedicated to Kent County soldiers killed in combat. According to Chapter 850 of the Vietnam Veterans of America, 41 Kent Countians died in Vietnam, Korea and the Middle East.

Although the forecast rain may have kept some at home, members of the general assembly, Mayor Robin Christiansen, Senator Tom Carper and other dignitaries and elected officials were out in force to participate in the ceremony.

Maj. Gen. Carol A. Timmons was the keynote speaker for the event. 59-year-old, Maj. Gen. Timmons, became the Delaware National Guard’s first female commander back on Feb. 12 when she was sworn in — succeeding Gen. Frank Vavala.

Trish Rodriguez of Dover and Vietnam veteran Paul Davis salute after placing a wreath in memory of fallen soldiers during Memorial Day service in Dover. (Special to the Delaware State News/Gary Emeigh)

Civil Air Patrol cadet color guard members from Dover AFB march in with the National Colors at beginning of the Memorial Day ceremony at the Kent County Memorial park in Dover Monday. Special To The Delaware State News/Gary Emeigh

Gen. Timmons served in Operations Desert Shield, Desert Storm, Southern Watch, Joint Guard, Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom. A Bronze Star award in 2008 resulted from her leadership while commanding a combat deployment to Afghanistan.

Adjutant General of DelawareÕs National Guard Maj. General Carol Timmons, was the keynote speaker for MondayÕs Memorial Day ceremony in Dover Special To The Delaware State News/Gary Emeigh

At the end of her speech, she made a special tribute to gold-star families and their family members who were killed in combat.

“Their sacrifice serves as a steadfast warning to our enemies that we will never abandon the cause of liberty,” said Maj. Gen. Timmons.

She also made reference to the Bell UH-1 series Iroquois helicopter (better known as a Huey) permanently fixed to a stand in the park. As a command pilot, she’s logged more than 5,200 hours flying C-130Hs, C-141s and Hueys.

“This venue feels more like home than many because I get to look right at the UH-1 Huey, my first flying platform,” said Maj. Gen. Timmons. “The Huey is one of the most symbolic icons of the Vietnam War. Many of my instructors were Vietnam veterans. A lot of them had been under fire and even shot down during the war and they lost friends in combat.”

Civil Air Patrol cadet color guard members from Dover AFB march in with the National Colors at beginning of the Memorial Day ceremony at the Kent County Memorial park in Dover Monday. Special To The Delaware State News/Gary Emeigh

At the chapter 850-organized memorial, Civil Air Patrol cadets acted as the color guard. Time was taken to allow various organizations to place wreaths on the memorial stones in the park after the reading of the names of local soldiers killed in the war. The ornate memorial bell, belonging originally to the Dover Fire Department, was sounded after each name. The bell has been used specifically to mark the names at all events at the Kent County Veterans Memorial Park since 2009.

Concluding the ceremony, Mr. Skocik reminded visitors that Monday was John F. Kennedy’s 100th birthday. In light of the ultimate sacrifice that so many Americans have made for freedom and liberty, he invited everyone to ponder Kennedy’s famous inaugural address.

“On a day like today it’s worth remembering to say to ourselves; ‘ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country,” said Mr. Skocik.

Dover Police and fire Pipes and Drums file into Kent County Memorial Park to play during MondayÕs ceremony. Special To The Delaware State News/Gary Emeigh

Reach staff writer Ian Gronau at igronau@newszap.com

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