Annual Camellia Gardens ceremony pays tribute to 56 deceased Team Robins members

  • Published
  • By Kendahl Johnson
  • 78 ABW/PA
Hundreds of friends and family members gathered in the scenic Camellia Gardens May 22 to honor and memorialize 56 departed military and civilian members of the Robins family.

Maj. Gen. Tom Owen, commander of the Warner Robins Air Logistics Center, delivered the memorial address, a tribute to the men and women who "served their country so honorably."

"The Camellia Garden ceremony is a most cherished and unique event," General Owen said. "This is a precious opportunity for the Robins family, base and community to come together as family and friends of those who have departed, to honor those people for their years of service."

Col. Warren Berry, 78th Air Base Wing commander, made opening remarks at the ceremony. He said it was important to honor the people "who dedicated a part of their lives and their passions for the possibilities of aviation and for the defense of their country."

He asked that we never forget their dedication and service.

"I'd ask you to do one thing today, one very simple thing: remember them. Remember what they did for Robins Air Force Base and in turn for our great nation," Colonel Berry said. "They believed in our case, the pursuit of freedom and peace for all. They gave their passions to the mission here at Robins. Serve them, honor them and remember them in your memories."

In addition to remarks by the two commanders, Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Thomas Fey also asked the audience to remember those who passed and their influence in our lives.

"Gathering here recalls the sorrows of their passing but it also gives us an opportunity for healing the pain of their absence," the chaplain said. "We honor the memory of these 56 precious souls. May we recall their special touch and unique contributions to our lives - as family members, as friends and as colleagues."

Chaplain (Capt.) Paul Joyner read the names of the honorees, and hand bell ringer Margaret Scheer sounded the bell after each name. It was one of several emotional highpoints of the solemn ceremony.

Other moving moments included an anthem sung by the Robins Base Chapel choir, the playing of "Amazing Grace" by bagpiper Master Sgt. Scott Gunn, echo Taps by Staff Sgts. Michael Richter and Thomas Salyers and a 21-gun salute by the Robins Honor Guard.

Family members gathered at a reception in the Officers' Club following the ceremony, many of them sharing remembrances of those they had come to honor.

The patriotic red, white and blue prevailed in the large wreath placed in the garden and in the posting of colors by the Robins Honor Guard.