1st Lt Betsy Becker
Public Affairs Officer
Northwest Iowa Composite Squadron
Capt Jessa Erickson
Southwest Iowa Composite Squadron
Remember – Honor – Teach
ADEL, IA – It was a blustery yet sunny day as nine members of the Civil Air Patrol’s (CAP) Northwest Iowa Composite Squadron based in Ft. Dodge, IA, and eight members of the Southwest Iowa Composite Squadron based in Red Oak, IA, along with over 150 community members, participated with the Wreaths Across America ceremony on December 10th at the Iowa Veteran’s Cemetery near Van Meter, IA.
The Civil Air Patrol was asked to provide a color guard to advance and retire the colors during the ceremony. Four CAP cadets from the Northwest Iowa Composite Squadron stepped up to assist, including C/Amn Luke Lewandowski, C/TSgt Skylar Becker, C/2d Lt Isaac Wachholz, and C/CMSgt Jacob Lewandowski.
During 2011, several members worked tirelessly collecting sponsorships for wreaths to be laid at the gravesites of fallen soldiers from Iowa. Between the two squadrons, approximately 200 wreath sponsorships were secured for the nearly 1000 gravesites currently occupied at the cemetery, with the remaining sponsorships coming from businesses, organizations and individuals around Iowa.
Wreaths Across America is a nonprofit organization founded to continue and expand the annual wreath laying ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery begun by Maine businessman, Morrill Worcester, in 1992. Civil Air Patrol squadrons from across the United States have teamed up with Wreaths Across America as a service project as well as small fundraiser for the squadrons. This year saw over 600 WAA ceremonies take place across the United States, which always occurs on the second Saturday in December.
The event, held in the committal shelter at the Iowa Veterans Cemetery near Van Meter, was organized by Patrick Palmersheim, former Director of the Department of Veteran’s Affairs in Iowa. He was part of the original team which designed and set into motion the creation of the Iowa Veteran’s Cemetery.
The keynote speaker was Brig. Gen. Mark W. Corson, Commanding General of the 103rd Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) unit based at Fort Des Moines. Corson told those gathered, “My heroes are the families of the soldiers. My two years being deployed in Iraq have been a great privilege to give the Iraqi people the peace and freedom we enjoy.”
Brig. Gen. Corson also joined family members of veterans laying wreaths on their loved ones graves. After the wreaths were laid he then spent time with the CAP cadets present as he is a former CAP cadet from the San Francisco Cadet Squadron 86.
Corson credits CAP helping to build his leadership skills and helping instill discipline in his life. “I enjoyed the multiple encampments I attended.” They helped instill “Excellence in Action” which was his CAP squadron’s motto. While in CAP as a cadet he received the Amelia Earhart milestone award.
Ten members of the Company “A” 49th Iowa Veteran Volunteer Infantry Regiment were in attendance as well. They marched through the cemetery as families and individuals placed wreaths on seven ceremonial graves. Also known as “The Governor’s Own Iowa Rifles”, they are an organization of military historians who share ancestral lineage with those who served in the Federal forces of the United States Army, Marines, Navy, and Revenue Cutter Services during the American Civil War, 1861-1865, and who are dedicated to performing certain “missions” in commemoration of their service to the nation. Formed one year after the end of the Civil War, the 49th Iowa Veteran Volunteer Infantry Regiment is the oldest veteran’s group in North America.
To purchase a wreath sponsorship for the 2012 Wreaths Across America ceremony, please log on to www.wreathsacrossamerica.org. You may also contact the Northwest Iowa Composite Squadron at firstname.lastname@example.org or the Southwest Iowa Composite Squadron at email@example.com.