Always On Our Minds

October 1, 2018Doug Williamson Interim Vice President, Military Affairs

We can’t say, “Thank You,” enough.

The men and women of Dyess Air Force Base, and others throughout the U.S. Armed Forces, are making the world a more secure place for us, our children, our grandchildren and everyone worldwide.

We know that honestly, it is not just these military members who are serving. Their families and friends also serve, knowing those in uniform are away so much of them, working where the action really is.

It is a sacrifice that they are paying. Some of them have paid the ultimate sacrifice during their service to our country. Seventy-nine of those people have lost their lives in the line of duty while assigned to Dyess AFB.

From the first four casualties in a B-47 accident near Dyess in 1957, to the most recent, the loss of a C-130J crew of six on TORQE 62 in Afghanistan three years ago Tuesday.

On Tuesday, Oct. 2, at 10 a.m., we will break ground for a major expansion of the Dyess Memorial Park to pay tribute to all these Airmen.

The Park has been adjacent to the Dyess Museum at 760 Arnold Blvd. (near the intersection of Military Dr. and Arnold Blvd.) for a number of years. There are several Airmen recognized there, and there are other memorials at various locations around the base and in the city. This project will, in one single place, honor those brave men and women.

The park will feature a unique architectural structure.

Mitch Wright, landscape architect, designer, and grandson of Abilene’s own “Dub” Wright agreed to design a distinctive memorial to honor the sacrifices of our Dyess Airmen. His grandfather was one of the civic leaders who lead efforts to secure the land and donate it to the U.S. Government for Dyess AFB. Mitch Wright developed plans for a one-of-a-kind “sundial” memorial that allows the sun to enter and mark precise points in time on the memorial grounds. On the anniversary of each incident, a ray of light will shine directly on each monument at the exact time of the loss.

Joe Spano, Team Dyess Chair on the Abilene Chamber of Commerce Military Affairs Committee, led the fund-raising efforts, securing more than $600,000 for the construction and maintenance of the project. The Dodge Jones Foundation issued a $250,000 challenge grant to give the drive a big boost.

Construction will begin soon and a tentative date of Memorial Day weekend 2019 is set for the grand opening.

The public is invited for the ground breaking.

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