Military News

Annual ceremony honors those who contributed to Robins Air Force Base

A bell rang 76 times for the men and women who were memorialized at Robins Air Force Base on Thursday.

At the 39th annual Camellia Gardens Memorial Service, 1st Lt. Kayley Squire and 1st Lt. Cassandra Estrada read off the names of the dead for families, community members and base officials in the cool morning breeze.

The bells were played by 1st Lt. Desiree Colbert and Staff Sgt. Jason Gebo.

The garden, dedicated in 1976, was built in a partnership among the base, the former Warner Robins Chamber of Commerce and the Middle Georgia Camellia Society.

Each year a new plaque is put in the garden with the names of those honored. The service recognizes the impact of those who have worked at Robins, both military and civilian.

“Their work has impacted the base, their community and the entire state of Georgia,” said Warner Robins Mayor Randy Toms, who was the guest speaker for the service. He told the audience that his father worked at Robins for 30 years.

Toms and Lt. Col. Jonathan Wade, chaplain for the 78th Air Base Wing, placed a wreath in the center of the courtyard as bagpipe player Morris Blumenthal played “Amazing Grace.”

During the ceremony, a 21-gun salute was performed by the Robins Air Force Base Honor Guard, along with a playing of “Taps.”

“This is one of the most special moments of my life,” Wade said of the solemn ceremony.

Maj. Gabriel Rios, base chaplain, read the benediction.

“In the blue sky and warm summer, we remember them. ... At the beginning of the year and the end, we remember them,” Rios said. “They are now a part of us.”