Remembering fallen heroes

  • Published
  • By Beth Lyle
  • 751st Electronic Systems Group
The term "random acts of kindness" can often seem trite and overused. But I would like to share with you an experience of how a random act of kindness at Hanscom truly made a difference.

While participating in Memorial Day services in my hometown, I had the opportunity to speak with Kevin and Elaine Jones of Westminster, Mass., whose son 1st Lt. Ryan Patrick Jones, U.S. Army, was killed in Iraq and made his final journey home to Massachusetts through Hanscom. The Hanscom Community welcomed Lieutenant Jones home with all the honor and respect due a fallen hero.

When I introduced myself to Mrs. Jones and said that I was at Hanscom when Ryan came home, she took a deep breath, closed her eyes and grabbed my hand. She said the tributes paid to Ryan during the ceremony at the airfield were very moving and done with such professionalism. But, what moved her the most was the streams of people who lined the streets to pay their respects to her son and to honor his service to this nation.

"I sat in the back of the limo sobbing, not because I was sad," Mrs. Jones said, "But because I couldn't believe that all these people came out to honor my son." The warmth of the reception they received from the people of Hanscom helped the Joneses face the events of the following week with strength and grace.

"We were able to get through the week by celebrating Ryan's life -- and not by mourning his death," the Jones family said.

Mr. and Mrs. Jones would like to express their deepest appreciation to you and the entire Hanscom community who helped make a difficult time more bearable through the professionalism, compassion and respect shown to the memory of their son, 1st Lt. Ryan Patrick Jones -- a fallen hero.

While our mission at Hanscom is to support the warfighter by providing the best equipment, technology and resources in as timely a manner as possible, during times of conflict, losses still occur. When a fallen hero returns home to New England through Hanscom, we assume another mission even more awesome than the first. That mission is to ensure the fallen hero receives an appropriate homecoming -- not only from the Patriot Honor Guard and Security Forces, but from the entire Hanscom community.

"There is nothing more important happening in this building during the 15 or 30 minutes that the motorcade passes by than to pay our respects to that fallen hero," said Col. Michael Graham, 751st Electronic Systems Group commander.

In building 1630, there are several dozen flags available in each of the entryways for use during those times as a tribute to our fallen comrades who gave their last full measures of devotion in service to this great nation.

When fallen hero receptions are required in the future, let us all remember how much our presence meant to Mr. and Mrs. Jones, and provide that same measure of support to other families who have lost not only a child, but also a fallen hero. Through our simple random act of kindness of lining the streets as the motorcade passes by, we will continue to make a difference.