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JBSA News
NEWS | Aug. 20, 2008

Randolph hosts Heroes Memorial: Two-day display in Taj ends with retreat, flyover Tuesday

By Michael Briggs 12th Flying Training Wing Public Affairs

People at Randolph have the opportunity to honor the more than 400 men and women from the Lone Star State who have lost their lives fighting the Global War on Terrorism when the Texas Fallen Heroes Memorial is displayed here Monday and Tuesday. 

The showing of the 24-foot-long traveling memorial takes place in the rotunda of Building 100, the Taj Mahal, Monday from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Tuesday from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. 

On Tuesday at 3 p.m., the base community will officially pay its respects to the Texas heroes depicted on the memorial with a retreat ceremony featuring a missing-man formation flyover of T-38 Talons. 

J.T. Mendoza Jr., a San Antonio native and a member of Alamo Chapter 1836 of the Military Order of the Purple Heart, will provide remarks about the meaning of the Texas Fallen Heroes Memorial at the retreat ceremony.

Everyone in the base community is invited to visit the display and attend the retreat.
"It's a tremendous privilege to have the Texas Fallen Heroes Memorial here for two days," said Col. Jacqueline Van Ovost, 12th Flying Training Wing commander. "It reminds us all of the ultimate price our brothers and sisters in arms have paid to keep America free, and it gives us the opportunity to honor the sacrifice of these Texans." 

Alamo Chapter 1836 of the Military Order of the Purple Heart is sponsoring the memorial during its stops at locations throughout Central and South Texas. After its rounds in this region, the display is off to other parts of Texas where it will be on the road for about a year before landing a permanent home in the state capital of Austin, said Bill Bacon, Alamo Chapter 1836 adjutant. 

The memorial features 411 tiles that bear the names and photographs of Texans who died in support of military operations from 2001 through May 2008. 

"As far as we know, it's the only memorial that features photos of our fallen military," Mr. Bacon said. "It makes the display much more personal when you look at the faces of these heroes." 

Phil Darbonne of Youngsville, La., built the first state memorial for fallen military to honor those killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, Mr. Bacon said. The first was a memorial for the state of Florida that was unveiled early this spring. 

Houston businessman Bruce Williams funded the construction of the Texas memorial, which Mr. Darbonne took three months to research, design and build. It was unveiled June 7 to the public in Katy. 

The Military Order of the Purple Heart is sponsoring the statewide tour of the memorial. Most of the service members honored have earned the Purple Heart for their sacrifice, which was awarded posthumously to their next of kin, Mr. Bacon said. 

The Military Order of the Purple Heart is a veteran service organization chartered by the U.S. Congress and comprised exclusively of combat-wounded veterans.