NAS Pensacola to Honor Navy Gold Star Program
by Carolyn Gray, NAS Pensacola Public Affairs Office
The Naval Air Station (NAS) Pensacola Fleet and Family Support Center (FFSC) will host a Bells Across America for Fallen Service Members Ceremony at 11 a.m. Sept 26 at the Naval Aviation Memorial Chapel.
The guest speaker will be Rev. Peter A. McLaughlin, a Catholic priest at NAS Pensacola and a Gold Star survivor.
As an initiative of the Navy Gold Star Program, ceremonies will be conducted concurrently throughout the United States on this date to remember and celebrate the lives of fallen service members from all branches of the military, regardless of their cause of death. The Navy Gold Star Program serves as the advocate for the families and provides support, information and services such as reserved Gold Star family parking. Base Commanders have designated parking in various locations such as the Commissary, Exchanges, FFSC and Military Treatment Facilities (MTF) to promote awareness, educate the military community on the sacrifices of families of deceased active duty and to honor their loss.
Janet Thomas of the Fleet and Family Support Center (FFSC) has been the NAS Pensacola Gold Star liaison for two years. “The ceremony is a nice way to remember our fallen military members and to show our support to the [families] in the local community,” said Thomas.
More than 800 guests attended last year’s ceremony to honor the commitment and sacrifice of the 124 names that were read aloud. Also in attendance were 35 Gold Star family members.
“There are many unidentified Gold Star families in our community and want to make sure they know that they have the opportunity to participate in this ceremony and the Gold Star Program,” said Thomas. “We want to make it meaningful for the families of the fallen service members.”
For this year’s ceremony, the names will be read by the NAS Pensacola Command Master Chief
Mario Rivers and Patrick Nichols, a retired Air Force major and a Gold Star survivor.
“It’s an honor to be part of this year’s ceremony honoring fallen service members and their families,” said Rivers. “In addition to remembering the service members that gave the ultimate sacrifice, we want to show our support to the families in our community.”
If you wish to have a fallen service member’s name added to the list or if you need more information, contact Janet Thomas at (850) 452-5990.