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655 ISRG commander honors fallen servicemembers

655th Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Group Commander John D. McKaye delivers the keynote speech at a Memorial Day observance ceremony at Evergreen Cemetery, West Carrollton, Ohio, May 27, 2018.

655th Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Group Commander John D. McKaye delivers the keynote speech at a Memorial Day observance ceremony at Evergreen Cemetery, West Carrollton, Ohio, May 27, 2018. The event was co-sponsored by the West Carrollton Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 3438 and American Legion posts 165 and 598, and featured members of the local fire and rescue and law enforcement agencies. (U.S. Air Force photo/Maj. John Stamm)

655th Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Group Commander John D. McKaye speaks with American Legion Post 598 Honor Guard members before a Memorial Day observance ceremony at Evergreen Cemetery, West Carrollton, Ohio, May 27, 2018

655th Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Group Commander John D. McKaye speaks with American Legion Post 598 Honor Guard members before a Memorial Day observance ceremony at Evergreen Cemetery, West Carrollton, Ohio, May 27, 2018. The event was co-sponsored by the West Carrollton Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 3438 and American Legion posts 165 and 598, and featured members of the local fire and rescue and law enforcement agencies. (U.S. Air Force photo/Maj. John Stamm)

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio -- Col. John D. McKaye, 655th Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Group commander, was the keynote speaker at a Memorial Day observance ceremony at Evergreen Cemetery in West Carrollton, Ohio, May 27.

The event was co-sponsored by the West Carrollton Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 3438 and American Legion posts 165 and 598, and featured members of the local fire and rescue and law enforcement agencies.

The ceremony, led by Chaplain Don Leicy, began with a Service of the Wreath ceremony at a nearby bridge, crossing the Miami River. After an invocation, the chaplain dedicated a wreath to fallen members of the Navy, Marines, Coast Guard and Merchant Marines. Members of the local Girl Scout Brownie Troop 30180 ceremoniously tossed the wreath over the bridge into the river. The American Legion Posts 165 and 598 Honor Guard fired a 21-gun salute as a member of the West Carrollton High School Band played “Taps” on a bugle. The crowd returned to the cemetery where Colonel McKaye spoke on the meaning of Memorial Day past, present and future.

McKaye, a lifetime member of VFW Post 7674 in Ft. Walton Beach, Florida, recognized the VFW and American Legion members and thanked them for their dedication to supporting veterans and upholding “time-honored” values. He also recognized fire and rescue and law enforcement personnel in attendance.

“I know that Memorial Day is traditionally about honoring the military,” he said. “But I don’t see a difference. We all serve and protect our communities and this great nation. So, when I use the term servicemember, I’m referring to them as well as they have sacrificed as much.”

Additionally, and “most importantly” McKaye said, was to honor the Gold Star Families. Gold Star Families are the immediate family members of those who died during a time of conflict in the line of duty. “Theirs’s is a debt that we can never repay,” he said.

McKaye urged individuals to remember and honor fallen servicemembers by learning their stories and telling them to all who will listen. Doing so, he said, ensures that their sacrifices, and the sacrifices of the one’s they left behind, do not go unheeded or unheralded and will carry on the legacy of excellence they established.

Lee Jean Heller, a retired emergency medical technician from West Carrolton, was very emotional when speaking about what Memorial Day meant to her.

"We must work together to help each other,” she said. “Military and first responders are faced with experiences and scenes that remain in our brains no matter how busy, how many new experiences we are faced with. Sharing, talking and even just seeing it in others eyes is sometimes helpful as we know we are not alone in those memories. Helping each other, I believe, is the key to healing. Not exactly forgetting, but making it though.”

The 655 Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance Group is dedicated to serving as the premier and most diverse ISR Group in the United States Air Force, delivering timely, reliable, accurate and actionable intelligence products enabling a decision advantage over adversaries of the United States. The 655th consists of a headquarters and three tenant squadrons in Ohio, and 11 geographically separated units in California, Texas, Nebraska, Virginia, Florida and Maryland. For exciting and rewarding career opportunities with the 655 ISRG, please contact your local Air Force Reserve recruiter or call 937-257-8117.