KILLEEN, Texas –
Sailors assigned to Navy Medicine Education, Training and Logistics Command, Navy Medicine Training Support Center and Navy Recruiting District San Antonio attended the graveside service of a Navy veteran in Killeen, Texas, Sept. 26.
Petty Officer 3rd Class Mark Lyle Walker, a sonar technician (submarine), served on the Ballistic Missile Submarine USS Ulysses S. Grant (SSBN-631) during the late 1970s and early 1980s and had no family or next of kin, prompting the San Antonio-area Sailors to make the two-hour drive from Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston to honor Walker's Navy service.
“Mr. Walker honored his country through his service to the Navy,” said NMETLC Command Master Chief Richard Putnam. “Honoring Mr. Walker is our way to celebrate our country’s values. Honor, courage and commitment are the Navy’s core values and Mr. Walker’s service to his country exemplifies those values.”
For those attending, it was a chance to show that those who served in the Navy will always have family behind them.
“We are going to celebrate this Sailor’s life and pay homage to him for his service to our country,” said NMETLC Chief Petty Offiver Shante Morris. “He is my family.”
Morris said the experience was a chance to reiterate the team spirit that represents the Navy.
“The first thing that came to my heart was ‘One Team, One Fight!’” Morris said. “It’s a chant that you often hear to motivate a team, but for me it’s a way of life. Think about this. There is someone leaving their family right now to serve our country. That member will always be my brother or sister in arms. I am ultimately standing in the gap as they are away from their family. In life and in death, we have to make it our business to continue to standing in the gap.”
About 200 to 300 people throughout the south Texas area came out to honor Walker, including county officials, retired military members, military veteran organizations, motorcycle groups and other community members who wanted to pay their respects for his service.
Perhaps local Veterans of Foreign Wars member Terry Craig, described the graveside service best: “Mark is surrounded by his family that he never knew he had.”