NEWS

Veterans honored during Wreaths Across America ceremony

Special to Gannett
This year's Wreaths Across America ceremony took place Dec. 18 at Destin Memorial Cemetary.

Overcast skies with a high chance of rain didn’t dampen the spirits of a grateful community on Dec. 18.

For the fourth year, the commitment to Wreaths Across America shined in every part. Jason Fulgham and the local Okaloosa County Sheriff’s station started by storing the wreaths.

Lisa Firth of the Destin Community Center and her team came to the cemetery with chairs, podium, and speakers. They set up and broke down the items for the ceremony.

A group of volunteers from the American Legion staged the wreaths, fluffed the ribbons, and looked for ways to help. Destin High School junior Parker Evans assisted the process.

Veteran and Legion member Dean Sharp emceed the program. Veteran and Legion member Ray Castro sang the National Anthem.

Veteran and Legion member Wayne Frost offered the invocation while veteran and Legion member Ted Duncan led the Pledge of Allegiance.

During the Wreaths Across America event, wreaths were placed at the gravestones of Destin veterans.

The JROTC members Leanne Gujski, Payton Hill, Memphis Collins, and Alissa Easley from Niceville High School presented the colors.

Army Captain Kevin Caliva of New Orleans laid the wreath on Richard A, Williams’ grave in his honor of those who have served and are serving in the United States Army.

Marine Sgt. Aleczander Robles of Reno, Nevada, laid the wreath on Curtis D. Williams grave in memory of those who served and are serving in the United States Marine Corps. Curtis was instrumental in the creation and support of Destin's Morgan Sports Center.

Marine Sgt. Derek A. Love from Melbourne, Arkansas, laid the wreath on the grave of Una Mae Bown, in memory of those who served and are serving in the United States Navy.

Air Force SSgt Jacqueline D. Nix of Alpine, Texas, place the wreath on the grave of Gabriel T. Barcelo in memory of those who served and are serving in the United States Air Force.

In addition to laying a wreath at the grave of every veteran buried at Destin Memorial Cemetery, their name is spoken aloud as another way to honor their service.

Air Force retired Senior MSGT Richard Menard laid the wreath in honor of those serving in the United States Space Force.

Boatswain’s Mate 2 Liam Coleman of Saugus, MA laid the wreath on the grave of Edgar Walter in memory of those who served and are serving in the United States Coast Guard.

Air Force retiree Ted Duncan laid the wreath on the grave of David H. Marler in honor of those served and are serving in the United States Merchant Marines.

Retired Army Airborne Light Infantry officer Joh McCutchon laid the wreath in honor of the 93,129 United States servicemen from all branches of the service whose last known status was either Prisoners of War or Missing in Action. These individuals have never returned to their families. McCutchon was escorted by Army 1Sgt. Nate Smith who has served for 18 years including 41 months in combat.

After Taps, the community of volunteers placed wreaths on the Destin veteran’s graves. After placing the wreath, they stood with their hand on their heart, spoke the veteran’s name and thanked them for their service.

Dozens of community members and multiple organizations participated in this fourth Wreaths Across America event in Destin.

Additionally, Kathy Marler Blue and Lloyd Taylor performed the duties at the Marler Family Cemetery. This is truly a community event. To sponsor wreaths for 2022, visit www.wreathsacrossamerica.org and use the location code FLDEMC Group FL0665.