DESTIN — More than 150 people stood out in the cold to honor local deceased veterans at Destin Memorial Cemetery for the Wreaths Across America ceremony recently.
The cemetery was one of more than 1,200 sites across the country that participated in the annual event on Dec. 15. The local service was hosted by the American Legion Auxiliary of Destin Unit 296.
Chief Master Sgt. (retired) Skip Overdier was the master of ceremonies during moving ceremony.
Ceremonial wreaths were placed by active duty and prior service military members. The National Anthem was sung by Amanda McArdle, who was dressed as 1940s Women's Army Corps. Brig. Gen. (ret.) and Purple Heart recipient Patt Maney lead the Pledge of Allegiance. Eglin Color/Honor guard posted the colors and played Taps. Eglin firefighters escorted those who needed a little help. Emerald Coast Pipes and Drums played during the general wreath laying.
Sam Lombardo, a 99-year-old Battle of the Bulge survivor, laid the wreath in honor of the 93,129 POW-MIA Americans.
Michael Morris, who was an active duty Marine for seven years, and his son, Cub Scout Lukas Morris, placed the wreath to honor Sundy J. Mann, who served in World War II.
Senior Recruit Peyton Collins, a first-year Navy sailor, placed a wreath to honor Thomas L. (Bull) Cochran, who took part in 11 Naval Amphibious invasions in World War II.
Master Sgt. Zach Miller, an 18-year veteran of the Air Force who has deployed numerous times, placed the wreath to honor Paul E. Sexton, who was an Air Force tech sergeant in Korea and Vietnam.
Coast Guard Petty Officer Andrew Smith, who has served for three years, and Seaman Dana Buhr, serving in her first year, laid a wreath to honor Petty Officer Phillip Jayree Bracewell.
Peter Anthony Puglia, 91, placed the ceremonial wreath on Julius Scheidl Sr.’s grave in honor of the Merchant Marines.
Wreaths were laid at each veteran's grave. The presenter then stood, covered their heart or saluted and thanked the deceased for their service.