EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. --
Dressed in the bright whites, deep blues and dense blacks of their service uniforms, Airmen, Marines, Sailors, and Soldiers came together once again May 4 to honor and remember their fallen explosive ordnance disposal brethren during the annual memorial ceremony at the Kauffman EOD Training Complex here.
Approximately 400 people ventured to the EOD Memorial Wall this year, as three new names were added to the engraved lists that now contains 338 people. The 2019 event marked the ceremony's 50th year.
The schoolhouse’s commander, Navy Capt. Charles Andrews, welcomed the EOD technicians, family and community to the ceremony and explained why they were drawn back to memorial each year.
“We honor the 338 heroes of past years and welcome back our legacy families,” he said. “We also honor the three to be added to the wall and welcome their families to ours.”
Chief of Staff of the Air Force Gen. David Goldfein, the ceremony's keynote speaker, shared heartfelt sentiments to the families of fallen technicians in attendance. He recounted the heartbreaking stories behind each of the new Soldiers’ names added this year.
“The EOD professionals we remember today served others, pushed the limits of technical knowledge and endured hardships without a hint of entitlement,” said the general. “This is the essence of EOD. You do what others cannot or will not do.”
In closing he had a specific message for the EOD specialists in attendance and family of technicians service wide.
“Always remember the significance of this memorial,” he said. “It’s much more than names etched on a wall. It’s where the lines of history and heroism intersect.”
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,” and 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: 1st Lt. William Alter, Sgt. James Slape and Sgt. Joseph Collette.
The ceremony concluded with an honor guard rifle volley and the playing of Taps. Afterward, families and EOD technicians both past and present descended upon the Wall for pictures, to touch the engraved brass name or just remember a fallen hero.