BEAVERCREEK — On Memorial Day afternoon Veterans’ Memorial Park in Beavercreek was filled with those honoring the sacrifices of United States Armed Forces service members.
Hosted by the City of Beavercreek, the event featured special speakers and singing. Colonel Donald Grannan of Wright-Patterson Air Force Base was the keynote speaker for the event.
“I’ve been in the Air Force for over 30 years,” Grannan said. “I’ve been to a lot of different assignments, and I can honestly say I have never been in a community that supports military like I see in Beavercreek. I can promise you everybody in the military here appreciates it very much. It’s very inspiring.”
In his speech, Grannan told the stories of several service members and their heroism in the line of duty. One such story was of the World War II mission for which Second Lieutenant Joseph Sarnoski and Captain Jay Zeamer were each awarded the Medal of Honor. During that mission the two were aboard a B-17 bomber tasked with mapping a Japanese-held island in the South Pacific. They expected light resistance.
What they encountered was something different entirely. Unbeknownst to those on the mission, 400 Japanese fighters had been moved to the island the night before. The B-17 came under fire, and Sarnoski and Zeamer were both injured.
Sarnoski was thrown backward from his seat when a shell exploded near him but dragged himself back to his station. There he fired his guns until he died at his station. Zeamer remained at the controls of the plane despite his own wounds, and his evasive actions saved the B-17.
“Our history details a long line of patriots and defenders of freedom who have dedicated their lives to defend our ideals of independence, freedom and liberty,” Grannan said in his speech. “I believe it is our sacred obligation to understand their sacrifices, remember their courage and honor their service.”
In addition to Grannan’s speech, the ceremony featured a 21-gun salute, the playing of “Taps,” and the singing of “God Bless America.”
“It’s important that we celebrate these things because these individuals that we are celebrating and recognizing gave their lives for us,” Grannan said. “These people defend us and protect us and put their lives on the line for us and sacrifice their life so we can enjoy the freedoms we have here today.
“It’s very important that we know their stories, that we honor them, that we honor their service and sacrifice.”