'Remember them,' speakers say at area Memorial Day observances

Posted Monday, May. 27, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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Navy Capt. Robert Bennett recited the names of about a dozen service people who deserved mention on Memorial Day.

Bennett, commander of Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Fort Worth, was delivering the keynote speech Monday night at the 84th annual Mount Olivet Memorial Day Service.

But Bennett singled out one for closer attention — Petty Officer 1st Class Jeffrey S. Paschal, a crew chief from Phoenix who died in a helicopter crash in 2000 near Corpus Christi. He was 40.

Bennett, a helicopter pilot, said Paschal was such a dedicated enlisted man that he frequently had to order him to go home at the end of a shift.

Bennet recalled how one day the crew chief came to his office to introduce his family to him. He admired how Paschal’s two daughters were so proud of him.

“I learned so much from him,” Bennett said. “He was a wonderful man and a courageous father.

“I hope I am earning his sacrifice today.”

“Remember them,” Bennett urged his audience. “Share their stories. Keep them alive forever.”

The annual event at Mount Olivet was set up around the Doughboy statue deep inside the north Fort Worth cemetery.

Mayor Betsy Price introduced Bennett. Music was provided by the Moslah Shrine Band and the First Christian Church Choir directed by Charles Duke. Lone Star Chapter of the Paralyzed Veterans Honor Guard fired a gun salute. The ushers were Boy Scouts from Troop 50 in Fort Worth.

Taps was sounded by bugler Kyle Hantz, and a bagpipe tribute was performed by Steve Creed, a retired lieutenant with the Fort Worth Fire Department.

Other area Memorial Day services were at Laurel Land Memorial Park in south Fort Worth, the Dallas-Fort Worth National Cemetery in Dallas and Bluebonnet Hills Memorial Park in Colleyville.

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At the Bluebonnet Hills observance, a giant American flag hung from the ladders of two Colleyville fire department trucks.

Led by a bagpiper, two horses pulled a caisson carrying an empty, flag-draped casket. Six members of the Colleyville Fire Department honor guard lifted the casket and carried it forward as uniformed men saluted and people in the crowd wiped away tears.

“This is a reminder of the sacrifices that are made to give us this freedom,” said Mary Hall, vice president of the auxiliary unit of American Legion Post 379 in Bedford. “Enjoy your weekend, but take a few minutes to say ‘Thank you’ and remember that they’re the ones that are giving you the right to have a barbecue and pool parties.”

The program included somber tolling of a full-sized Liberty Bell replica flanked by Ten Commandment tablets, the release of birds, a flag-folding ceremony and rifle salute.

Bugler Austin A. Hintze of Boy Scout Troop 700 in Grapevine sounded taps.

Officials especially honored Grapevine native Steven Tucker, who joined the Army after graduating from Colleyville Heritage High School and planned to become a sports medicine physician. The 19-year-old infantryman was killed on May 21, 2005, by an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan.

His parents were presented a plaque and Steven’s mother, Rowena Tucker of Grapevine, was also presented a Gold Star Service Banner. The white banner has a red border and gold star in the center represents a family member who died during their military service.

Charles Tucker of Colleyville read a letter his son sent while he was deployed in Afghanistan.

“Steven’s personality can best be described as outgoing, a prankster, upbeat and of course, a ladies man,” Charles Tucker said. “Steven was one of those soldiers that you could always count on to get the job done the first time, always helping others unselfishly.”

Bill Miller, 817-390-7684

Twitter: @Bill_MillerST

Jessamy Brown, 817-390-7326

Twitter: @jessamybrown

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