MILTON — Petty Officer 1st Class ABH1 Terrance Wever said it was an honor to read the names of 11 service members who died during active duty.
A bell rang in their memory during a brief ceremony on Thursday at Naval Air Station Whiting Field.
“To pay tribute to those who lost their lives is indescribable,” Wever said. “It’s an honor to pay tribute to those who obviously paved the way before I got here.”
NAS Whiting Field presented a ‘Bells Across America for Fallen Service Members’ program. In addition to honoring service members who died during duty, the program recognized families of fallen service members.
“It’s an opportunity for the families to know that they are not forgotten and that we remember their loved ones,” said Rufus Bundrige, the southeast region coordinator for the Navy God Star Program, which provides long-term support to surviving families of Navy service members who died during their service.
Since the Navy Gold Star’s inception in 2014, more than 10,000 Gold Star family members have been identified from World War I to the present.
NAS Commanding officer Capt. Todd Bahlau said it’s important for those families to remember they can always rely on U.S. Navy for support.
“Their fallen loved one is never forgotten and they are always a part of this Navy family,” Bahlau said. “If they so choose, they will always have the support that they need to help deal with the loss of a family member.”
NAS Whiting Field offers a fleet and family support center. Family Life Consultant Darryl Johnson said the support center offers services including counseling along with relocation, educational and employment support.
“For those families that contact us, we remove or eliminate those barriers,” Johnson said. “We give them a variety of resources in order to meet their needs.”