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Memorial Day Salute Takes Place Amidst the Raindrops
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Members of the Mountain Home Air Force Honor Guard advance the colors.
   
Tuesday, May 31, 2022
 

STORY AND PHOTOS BY KAREN BOSSICK

Low-hanging clouds obscuring the mountaintops cancelled the flyover, but rain showers failed to dampen the enthusiasm of about 200 people for Hailey’s annual Memorial Day Ceremony on Monday.

The crowd watched as community members placed the Battlefield Cross--a wooden monument featuring combat boots and a helmet atop a bayonetted rifle—next to the Veterans memorial stone. The dog tags on the Battlefield Cross were dedicated to 434 veterans laid to rest at the Hailey Cemetery, said ceremony organizer Geegee Lowe.

It hearkens to the Civil War, when soldiers and villagers would stick the bayonet of a fallen soldier into the ground, placing his helmet on top so they could return later and give him a proper burial. The rifle and helmet became associated with the loss of a soldier. The worn and dirty boots became a symbol of the soldiers’ final march, she added.

 
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One little girl came prepared with both sunglasses and an umbrella.
 

Watching the ceremony was Matt Neal, who had earlier pinned poppies on his children Ben and Charlotte. Neal moved here with his wife Christy and family from Las Vegas this past year to work for Cox Communications. He had just lost his grandfather, a Navy Seabee during World War II. And Matt himself had served in the Army.

“I was very involved in veteran activities in Las Vegas so this means a lot,” he said.

Joan Davies recounted the story of the poppies—how farmers plowing fields close to the front lines in the aftermath of World War I had found the red flowers springing to life. The red flowers caught the attention of a Canadian physician who composed a poem “In Flanders Fields” in honor of a fallen friend—one of 9 million soldiers lost during that war.

Others in attendance included Diana Landis, who was wearing her late husband's dark World War II Veteran cap, which he had worn so proudly for so many years. Landis was spending her first Memorial Day without her husband Bill Brandt, an Air Force captain who died earlier this year at 97.

 
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Community members position the Battlefield Cross.
 

Idaho National Guard Col. Chad Kornberg described how the Guard has deployed in a variety of ways  during the past two years. Pilots deployed to Afghanistan; civil engineers and medical personnel went to 13 different countries. The Idaho National Guard provided security for the Presidential inauguration, and its members spread out across Idaho to assist with testing and vaccine distribution during the coronavirus pandemic.

Airmen also help out in areas suffering wildfires, floods and crippling snow events.

“We train everyday so we’re prepared to answer our nation’s call,” he said. “Anywhere. Anytime. That is our charge.”

Brienne Cost, who works with veterans for Higher Ground, told of the therapeutic recreation activities that her nonprofit organization based in Sun Valley provides to veterans, ranging from skiing to surfing to deep sea fishing.

 
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A member of the Mountain Home Air Force Base Honor Guard plays “Taps” on a Ceremonial Bugle with an electronic insert. Such trumpets were pressed into service as fewer and fewer servicemen knew how to play the trumpet.
 

“We find that the outdoors provides an environment where healing occurs,” she said as she described how veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress and other challenges develop coping skills, trust and self-confidence participating in those activities.

Retired Navy Officer Richard Fife, who grew up in the Wood River Valley, invited the audience to attend a presentation at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, June 8 at the Community Campus to learn about the USS Idaho submarine currently under construction in Groton, Conn.

It’s the only ship in the Navy with its own march song, he said, as he played “Silver and Gold Beneath the Waves,” which was penned by a University of Idaho teacher.

“It was named in honor of all the military veterans from the state of Idaho,” he added. “That’s a tremendous honor!”

 
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A member of the Mountain Home Air Force Base Firing Party takes part in a 21-gun salute.
 

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