By Robert Barron, Staff Writer
Enid News & Eagle
ENID, Okla. —
Woodring Wall of Honor will turn 13 years old at the annual Memorial Day service May 27.
“It is our desire at the Woodring Wall of Honor to be civilian ambassadors for our armed services,” said Elaine Johns, who spearheaded the drive to create the Wall of Honor at Enid Woodring Regional Airport. “We are striving today to continue the strong support that Enid shows its military service members.”
The Memorial Day service honors all veterans, with special emphasis to those who have lost their lives in military service. Since 2000, more than 150 Oklahoma soldiers have lost their lives in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan or in accidents.
The Wall of Honor is made up of separate stones with the names of veterans — living and dead — engraved on them.
In addition to the Memorial Day service, the annual Red Dirt Run of Honor, a 5k and half-marathon run, will be held Saturday in honor of Oklahoma’s fallen servicemen and women, Johns said. Participants to run in honor of a veteran of their choosing or can run in honor of all veterans to bring awareness to the theme “Never Forget,” she said.
“We continue to remember,” Johns said. “We are a grateful nation recognizing their family’s sacrifices ensuring the freedoms that we Oklahomans enjoy.”
Some of the Gold Star families — those who have lost loved ones — will be represented. Among those Gold Star families is Karen Beattie, who is stationed at Fort Sill. She and her husband both participated in a run overseas on the same day he was killed in action, Johns said. Beattie will be deployed to Qatar next year and plans to host a run there with identical T-shirts at the Red Dirt Run of Honor.
Families of fallen Oklahoma military members will be honored at the Memorial Day ceremony, which will begin at 10 a.m.
The ceremony will be hosted by state Rep. John Enns, R-Enid. The agenda includes a welcome from Mayor Bill Shewey, a special flag presentation by members of the Kiowa Black Leggings Honor Society and music by the Haynes Sisters, a Christian trio from Lewisville, Texas.
Keynote speaker is Col. Darren James, commander of the 71st Flying Training Wing at Vance Air Force Base. While assigned to Air Mobility Command, he supported contingency operations during Operations Desert Storm, Provide Hope, Support Hope, Provide Comfort, Northern Watch, Noble Eagle, Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom.
State Sen. Patrick Anderson and state Rep. Mike Jackson, both R-Enid, will assist presentations to families of fallen soldiers.
The A-26 Lady Liberty, which is based in Enid, will perform a fly-by at about 10:15 a.m. in conjunction with the playing of the national anthem. The plane will be available for photos following the Memorial Day ceremony.
A private dinner for soldiers’ families will be held Sunday and is sponsored by Enid Civitan Club and Western Sizzlin.
The Memorial Day ceremony is being co-organized by Yes We Can Civitan Club and Blue Star Mothers. There will seating for 600 at the event, Johns said.