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Charles Town hosts annual Memorial Day commemoration ceremony

By Staff | Jun 1, 2018

Toni Milbourne/Chronicle Members of the Jefferson County Honor Guard offer the Rifle Salute at Charles Town’s Memorial Day celebration.

CHARLES TOWN – Edge Hill Cemetery in Charles Town was once again the gathering place to honor those who died for their country, as the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post in Charles Town hosted its annual commemoration ceremony on Memorial Day.

The annual event honors those who gave their lives in military service, dying in combat. The morning ceremonies led off with the laying of wreaths by several organizations, including the American Legion Post 71, VFW Post 3522, American Legion Auxiliary Unit 71, Sons of the American Legion Squadron 71, United Daughters of the Confederacy, Beeline Chapter DAR, Sons of Confederate Veterans and the Jefferson High School JROTC.

Following the placement of the wreaths, guest speaker Ralph Fox, 10th District commander, American Legion, spoke to the crowd about why Memorial Day is not a day for celebration.

The guest speaker for the day’s event was Col. Shaun J. Perkowski, commander, 167th Airlift Wing, WV Air National Guard in Martinsburg.

Perkowski took a few moments to acquaint the crowd with the role of the 167th Air National Guard before speaking to the reason for the Memorial Day recognition.

Toni Milbourne/Chronicle Col. Shaun Perkowski, commander, 167th Airlift Wing, West Virginia Air National Guard, delivers the address at the Memorial Day commemoration in Charles Town.

“The sacrifices of these servicemen and women are not their sacrifices alone,” Perkowski said. “The sacrifice is felt most poignantly by those families left behind.”

Perkowski, who is also a civilian pilot, said he’d recently been in Milwaukee at an Air National Guard gathering when those in attendance heard about a C-130 aircraft crash in Puerto Rico.

“There were nine American Airmen on board,” he said. “The plane was headed to Arizona to be retired.”

Those Airmen comprised a total of 167 years of combined military service, he said.

“They left behind six wives, eight sons, two step-sons and seven daughters,” Perkowski said, stressing that the hardest hit are those left behind.

Toni Milbourne/Chronicle Cadet Airman First Class Julian Patoray performs “Taps” with the Jefferson High School Junior Air Force ROTC at Edge Hill Cemetery during Monday’s event.

Perkowski ended his talk by thanking all those families who have lost their loved ones and those who continue to serve today.

Following Perkowski’s remarks, the Charles Town Middle School band performed the “Star Spangled Banner” and the Jefferson County Honor Guard offered the rifle salute. The ceremony concluded with the playing of ‘Taps’ by Cadet Airman 1st Class Julian Patoray, with the Jefferson High School Junior Air Force ROTC.