Dressed in the bright whites, deep blues and dense blacks of their service uniforms, airmen, Marines, sailors and soldiers came together May 6 to honor and remember their fallen explosive ordnance disposal brethren during the annual memorial ceremony at the Kauffman EOD Training Complex here.
About 500 people ventured to the EOD Memorial Wall this year, as six new names were added to the engraved lists that now contains 326 people. The 2017 event marked the ceremony’s 48th year.
The schoolhouse’s commander, Navy Capt. Charles Andrews, welcomed the EOD technicians, family and community to the ceremony and explained why they are drawn back to the memorial each year.
A Cause Greater Than Themselves
“The nation will always need individuals willing to fight for a cause greater than themselves,” he said. “Today we pay tribute to 326 EOD technicians who gave the ultimate sacrifice and we pay respect to their families.”
Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John M. Richardson, the ceremony’s guest speaker, shared heartfelt sentiments to the families of fallen technicians in attendance. He recounted the heartbreaking stories behind each of the names added this year. He related the words of the EOD technicians’ ethos to each of the fallen service members to be memorialized and how they lived and died fulfilling that oath.
“No force has continually displayed the qualities of its ethos, courage, bravery, sacrifice, love of humanity and humility more than the men and women of the EOD community,” he said. “The names memorialized here welcome home of their brothers. They are the guardians of our sacred freedom.”
Each year, a wreath is placed in front of each branch of service’s list of names before they are read aloud. After each list is completed with the phrase “We remember,” the names are saluted by an enlisted and officer EOD member.
The families of the EOD technicians added to the wall each year receive a folded flag that was flown over the memorial.
The names added this year were:
Army Master Sgt. Biddle Izard Jr., Air Force Tech. Sgt. James Eberle, Navy Senior Chief Petty Officer Scott Dayton, Navy Chief Petty Officer Jason Finan, Navy Ensign Charles Grice Sr., and Navy Seaman Robert Burr.
The ceremony concluded with an honor guard rifle volley and the playing of “Taps.” Afterward, families and EOD technicians both past and present moved to the wall for pictures, to touch the engraved brass name, or just to remember a fallen hero.