Residents pay Memorial Day respects

From the commanding sound of Air Force aircraft overhead to the somber sounds of trumpets playing, "Taps," Clovis residents marked Memorial Day Monday morning at the Lawn Haven Garden of Honor

CNJ staff photo: Kevin Wilson

Col. Buck Elton, commander of Cannon Air Force Base, delivers the address Monday morning during the Memorial Day observance at the Lawn Haven Garden of Honor. The annual event is organized by the Curry County Joint Veterans Council.

About 125 were in attendance for the 45-minute event organized by the Curry County Joint Veterans Council in addition to the dozens throughout the cemetery paying their own Memorial Day respect to the men and women who died wearing the uniform of the United States military.

Col. Buck Elton, commander at Cannon Air Force Base, gave the main address.

The event was the first since the end of the Iraq war, as noted by Vernon Luce, state senior vice commander for New Mexico Veterans of Foreign Wars.

"We lost approximately 4,500 of the finest men and women our country has to offer," Luce said.

CNJ staff photo: Kevin Wilson

Seturnino Garduno gives a salute Monday morning during the Memorial Day observance at the Lawn Haven Garden of Honor. Garduno, who served in the U.S. Army Combat Engineers during the Korean and Vietnam wars, has lived in Clovis since 1947.

For Seturnino Garduno, who has been in Clovis since 1947, the day meant memories of other wars. He takes the day to remember fallen comrades from the Korea and Vietnam wars, which he served from 1950-51 and from 1969-70, respectively.

"I wouldn't miss one for the world," said Garduno, who left the U.S. Army Combat Engineers as a staff sergeant.

Early on in the ceremony, a flyover was conducted by the 318th Special Operation Squadron, activated four Mays ago at Cannon Air Force Base. The squadron, which flew an M-28 Skytruck over the service, is in the process of returning home from a mission in Kandahar, Afghanistan.

No matter the war or the branch of military service, Elton said the holiday was one of "remembrance, relevance and celebration." Whoever they were, they deserved one day out of the year, for "they died so we could continue to cherish the things they loved."

Elton noted that the Afghanistan and Iraq wars stretched longer than either world war or Vietnam, and unlike the others has been fought by a volunteer military against an enemy unlike those seen in other conflicts.

"Our generation is facing an adaptive, determined and especially dangerous enemy. This enemy cannot be quickly defeated or deterred. This war will be a long, brutal struggle and it will be fought in desolate locations.

The tolls have been high, with approximately 6,400 killed in action between the two conflicts — including many with connections to Cannon and Air Force Special Operations Command he specifically mentioned to open the speech.

Elton said military personnel and families wish for peace as much, if not more, than anybody else, but that victory was the primary objective.

"We will prevail, we will win," Elton said. "We are smarter, faster, better equipped, better trained and more organized. Our soldiers, sailors and marines are unquestionably the good guys."

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