Honoring those who paid the ultimate price

July 12, 2019Doug Williamson, Doug Williamson, Director of Government Affairs and Community Partnerships, Military Affairs

After the October 2015 crash of TORQE 62 in Afghanistan, a group of Abilenians started talking about the most appropriate way to honor the crew and other Dyess personnel who have died in the line of duty.

A variety of memorials for many of the 22 fatal incidents in the base’s history existed at Dyess or around Abilene. But there wasn’t a consolidation of them to honor the fallen.

The tiny Dyess Memorial Park was a good starting place. Local civic leaders and the Military Affairs Committee (MAC) of the Abilene Chamber of Commerce combined forces.

Mitchell Wright, grandson of Dub Wright (one of the local leaders who led efforts to secure the base in Abilene), had the concept for a truly unique memorial. He designed a large arc-shaped structure that would capture sunlight and direct a beam to a granite plaque sitting on a limestone pillar. Each of the plaques would honor victims of a fatal crash. He calculated angles where the sun’s beam would hit the plaque on the anniversary day and time of the tragedy.

The MAC began the fund-raising for the more than $600,000 memorial. With a generous spark of a $250,000 challenge grant from the Dodge Jones Foundation, the effort exceeded its goal. Thanks to the more than 200 people and organizations that made contributions.

Friday, July 19th, at 10 a.m., we dedicate the Dyess Memorial Park expansion. Gen. Maryanne Miller, commander of the Air Mobility Command, will deliver special remarks. The community is invited. The Park is located just off base, adjacent to the Dyess Museum near the intersection of Military Drive and Arnold Boulevard.

More than 125 members of the families of the 79 Airmen and civilian employees who paid the ultimate sacrifice since 1957 have told us they will be in attendance. They are coming from throughout the nation to see our remembrance of their fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, grandparents, wingmen and friends.

This memorial salutes the fallen, but it also recognizes the sacrifices of their families, friends and fellow military personnel.

Thank you to the Abilene community for another tremendous example showing Dyess is part of the family.

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