Veterans Pay Tribute to Departed Comrades

By Frank Kepley, CAPT USN (Ret.), News Military Correspondent


The Military Veterans Organization of Sun City Center sponsored a Memorial Day Tribute to deceased veterans on Monday Morning at 10 a.m. at the Kings Point Veterans Theater. The ceremony opened with a Grand Marshal Procession, led by the 2019 Grand Marshal, Sgt. James Glass, a Korean War veteran.  The Cadence was played by drummer Danny Chavez from the Praise Band, United Methodist Church. 

The Opening Ceremony and Posting of Colors was directed by Benny Blackshire USA (Ret), President of MOAA SCC Chapter and the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office Honor Guard.

LTC Blackshire welcomed and introduced the Honored Guests and CAPT Harry Benter gave the Invocation. The Pledge of Allegiance was led by Lt. Col. Gordon Bassett, USAF (Ret). The National Anthem was then led by James Feist, USAF (Vet).

The Honored Speaker, Colonel DJ Reyes, USA (Ret), was introduced by Maj. Jim Haney, USMC (Ret).  COL. Reyes retired from the Army with over 33 years’ service.  He earned his Bachelors, Masters, and Juris Doctor degrees from the University of Notre Dame, the US Naval War College, and Temple University School of Law.

As a community Advocate for Veterans issues at the local, state and national levels, DJ recently served as a DoD contractor in assisting Gulf Coast region veterans, Guard and Reserve with meaningful employment and useful Career Counseling. DJ continues his community service role as  the Senior Military Advisor/Mentor to the 13th Judicial Circuit’s Veterans Treatment Court (VTC). 

A tribute to the Grand Marshal was then given by Maj. Jim Haney, which was followed by a musical interlude and salute to the Armed Forces by the Trinity Baptist Church directed by Rev. James Feist. 

A Roll Call of departed comrades accompanied by the Living Flag Tribute was given by Mrs. Rosemary Clifton, USN (Vet); Rev. Lt Col Sam Rorer, USAF (Ret); Mrs. Beverly Gaussiran USA (Vet); and Rev. LTC Julian Graham ISA (Ret).

Taps was then played by Rev. Feist and the Rendering Bell Honors carried out by CDR Ed Socha, USN (Ret), Pearl Harbor Survivor assisted by LTC Paul Wheat, USA (Ret). Amazing Grace was then played by the Bagpiper, Mr. Jason Marchand and the Colors were retired.  A placing of the wreath, donated by the Sun City Center Funeral Home, was then placed by members of the Boy Scout Troop 661.


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