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Re: Wreaths Across America

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  • Phelps Hobart
    As stated the initial post we participated in this memorial tribute. Here are three news stories. Thank you to the individuals who also contributed or
    Message 1 of 4 , Dec 18, 2008
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      As stated the initial post we participated in this memorial tribute. Here are three news stories.
      Thank you to the individuals who also contributed or attended the laying of the wreaths.
      Merry Christmas,

      Wreaths put on grave sites to honor military

      Ryan Kim, Chronicle Staff Writer

      Sunday, December 14, 2008

      With a gripping chill in the Saturday morning air, Jim MacMillan stood at the San Francisco National Cemetery in the Presidio and recalled what Christmastime was like when he was fighting as an Army master sergeant in Vietnam.

      "The holidays were so lonely and so peculiar," said MacMillan. "You're in this terrible environment, and yet it's Christmas. You can't believe you're there in that environment."

      In recognition of fallen servicemen and women and those fighting overseas during the holidays, MacMillan joined with other volunteers and veterans along with fire and police personnel to lay dozens of wreaths on tombstones as part of a national day of remembrance.

      The Wreaths Across America ceremony began in 1992 when the Worcester Wreath Co. of Harrington, Maine, started placing wreaths on the headstones of soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery during the holidays. Aided by volunteers around the country, the event went national several years ago and is now observed at hundreds of sites around the United States, including the Golden Gate National Cemetery in San Bruno and Sonoma Valley Veterans Memorial.

      For MacMillan, it was a moment to bond with fellow soldiers and recall the sacrifices made by veterans on behalf of the country.

      "It's very emotional to be here this close," he said. "There is a bond between us, and this wreath is a symbol of that."

      Capt. Katrin Cusack of the United States Volunteers, a nonprofit organization dedicated to assisting with military funerals, presided over the ceremony in San Francisco, calling upon representatives of the various armed forces to install wreaths at the Grand Army of the Republic Memorial, a white edifice near the entrance to the cemetery. Cusack reminded the attendees of the hard-fought freedoms earned and preserved by the country's men and women in uniform.

      "We honor them and their families for the sacrifices they make each day to keep our country safe from terrorism, hatred, injustice that plague the world community," she said.

      L'Ann Bingham, a regent with the San Francisco chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, said the holidays are about family, which she believes includes serviceman and women. She said it's important to take some time out during the holidays to remember them and their work.

      "It's wonderful at this hectic time of the year to take a minute and reflect on those who sacrifice for our country," she said.

      The formal ceremony concluded with a bagpiper playing "Amazing Grace" and then the somber notes of "Taps" played on a trumpet. Volunteers then fanned out across the cemetery to place wreaths on tombstones, taking a minute to pause and reflect at each grave site.

      For some, the event was a chance to bid happy holidays to lost loved ones. San Francisco Police Capt. Richard Corriea, who participated in the ceremony, walked to the site where his father, John Sr., is buried with Corriea's mother and brother.

      "They're all here," he said, after laying a wreath at their grave. "You miss family all the more during the holidays."


      Honoring those who keep our country free

      Article Launched: 12/14/2008 01:03:55 AM PST

      Burial plots at the Sacramento Valley VA National Cemetery were decorated with wreaths Saturday during a Wreaths Across America Ceremony. (Ryan Chalk/The Reporter)
      More than a thousand people gathered Saturday at the Sacramento Valley VA National Cemetery in Dixon to show their support for those serving in the military and those who lost their lives to protect this country.

      The air was crisp but the sun managed to shine on the individuals, families, servicemen and women and support groups who shared a moment to honor the sacrifice made by members of the armed forces. The event was jointly sponsored by the Sacramento Valley National Cemetery Support Committee and the Anne Loucks Chapter, National Society Daughters of the American Revolution.

      The event was part of the Wreaths Across America campaign which began nearly 20 years ago when 5,000 wreaths were laid at Arlington National Cemetery.


      Anne Driscoll lays a wreath at a headstone while her husband, Dave, watches at the Sacramento Valley VA National Cemetery.
      "At this very moment, wreath laying ceremonies are taking place in national cemeteries across the nation, including Arlington National Cemetery," said Sally J. Holcombe, regent with the Anne Loucks Chapter. "We are determined to see that our nation's veterans are recognized today."

      Numerous guest speakers expressed their gratitude toward the nation's military men and women and the sacrifice they made.

      "We are gathered here today to remember that we are a nation under one flag," said Nancy B. Alexander, vice president general of the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution. "We thank those who gave their lives to keep us free and we will not forget you."

      At the program's midpoint, the spotlight was placed on the cemetery

      flagpole where special wreaths were placed at its base. The wreaths honored each branch of service, including the U.S. Merchant Marine, soldiers taken prisoner or missing in action and patriot ancestors.

      Echoing the theme of sacrifice, Supervisor Mike Reagan, a retired U.S. Air Force lieutenant colonel, said, "We are all gathered here today because you recognize that the freedoms you've come to enjoy do not come without a price. ...The sacrifices made by the individuals fighting, those who have fought, and their families, are enormous and should never be taken for granted."

      Retired Tech Sgt. David E. Meredith (left) and retired Master Sgt. Raymond H. Vialpando carry a special wreath to be placed at the base of the flagpole Saturday at the Sacramento Valley VA National Cemetery in Dixon. (Ryan Chalk / The Reporter)

      As Taps echoed in the distance, relatives of those buried at the cemetery began to lay the boughs of greenery at the burial plots, followed by others. Organizers said this is the largest turnout for an event at the cemetery and that 3,700 grave sites would be decorated by day's end.

      Seven-year-olds Matthew Montgomery and his best friend, Austin Bunting, laid a wreath together at a headstone.

      "My husband and I want our boys to understand why we have these freedoms and why this country is so great," said Natasha Montgomery. Her husband, Mike, served with the 82nd Airborne division of the U.S. Army. Her 12-year-old son, Alan, was providing assistance at the event with the Civil Air Patrol and has dreams of becoming a pilot.

      "I just like the military and all that they do for us," said Matthew. "They keep us safe, and we're wishing them a Merry Christmas too."


      Thousands Lay Wreaths Across America

      December 15, 2008
      Army News Service|

      ARLINGTON, Va. - Thousands showed up on a crisp Saturday morning here -- some from as far as Maine -- to lay wreaths at the headstones of those buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

      The event was the 17th annual "Wreaths Across America," where thousands of volunteers come out to ANC as well as more than 125 other cemeteries across the United States, to lay more than 100,000 wreaths at the bases of the headstones of American's war veterans.

      "It is because of these people that we have everything we have," said Karen Worcester, of the Worcester Wreath Company, in remarks that opened the event at ANC. "When all the wreaths are gone, walk by every one of them and then go by the section that didn't get the wreaths and say thank you and realize what an important part of our country this is. We are all here because we are all Americans, we love our country and we are so appreciative of what we have and why we have it."

      For 17 years, the Worcester Wreath Company -- Morrill and Laura Worcester -- has donated wreaths to the cemetery to decorate the white headstones of American veterans buried there. In 1992, the company donated just over 5,000 wreaths to the cemetery. This year the company donated more than 17,000 wreaths -- some going to other cemeteries, but as many as 10,000 that were designated for Arlington. And next year the company plans to send additional wreaths.

      "I'm very proud this thing has grown to where it is now," Morrill said. Afraid the large crowd of volunteers wouldn't feel as though they were able to do enough, due to the limited number of wreaths available -- he promised to deliver more wreaths to the cemetery the following year.

      "We are going to do another truckload of wreaths next year, so it'll be three loads," Morrill said. That amount comes to some 16,000 wreaths to be placed at Arlington.

      After words by Secretary of Veterans Affairs James B. Peake, and John C. Metzler Jr., the superintendent of Arlington National Cemetery, volunteers gathered at the back of two tractor trailer trucks to help unload the 10,000 wreaths and to place one at each of the headstones in Section 12 of the cemetery.

      According to Metzler, in that section of the cemetery are buried 10 Medal of Honor recipients, including five from World War II, three from the Korean War, one from the Civil War, and one from the Spanish-American War. Additionally, Michael Strank -- one of the six Marines photographed raising the American flag on Iwo Jima -- is also buried in section 12.

      Nathan Blevins, son of Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Robert Blevins, was one of the first to place a wreath on a headstone. He said why he agreed to come to the event on such a cold day.

      "To pray for the people that have died," he said, while laying a wreath at the foot of the stone.

      Josh Danis, an 11th grader from Portland, Maine, came to the cemetery with his grandfather, Ralph Danis, of Arundel, Maine, and a Korean War-era veteran who served with the 3rd Infantry Regiment, the Old Guard.

      "I came to lay the wreath, to look around some, and to see the changing of the guard," Josh said, explaining why he made the long road trip from Portland to Arlington.

      "He also just likes his grandpa," the older Danis said, putting his arm around him.

      The two laid a wreath together at a veteran's headstone.


      --- In PMMC-NLUS@yahoogroups.com, "Pacific Merchant Marine Council, NLUS" <pmmc@...> wrote:

      The Pacific Merchant Marine Council is participating in Wreaths Across America The wreaths the council is sponsoring will be placed at:

      Merchant Marine Memorial, San Pedro

      Veterans Administration Presidio National Cemetery, San Francisco

      Veterans Administration Sacramento Valley National Cemetery, Dixon

      The inscription attached to each wreath is:

      Never forgotten!

      Rest in Peace.

      Pacific Merchant Marine Council, Navy League 

    • Pacific Merchant Marine Council
      Purchase OrderAhoy Members and Friends, Once again the council is participating in Wreaths Across America, www.wreathsacrossamerica.org. Ceremonies at various
      Message 2 of 4 , Dec 5, 2010
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        Purchase Order
        Ahoy Members and Friends,
        Once again the council is participating in Wreaths Across America, www.wreathsacrossamerica.org .
        Ceremonies at various California Veteran cemeteries begin at 0900 sharp. If attending, arrive early as parking could be a problem.
        It is not too late to individually sponsor wreaths. Specific cemeteries or gravesites can not be specified on your order.
        The Arkansas Division Sea Cadets will be participating at the Veterans National Cemetery at the Presidio.  The list of California ceremony locations is https://www.wreathsacrossamerica.org/Locations/California.
        We will endeavor to have wreaths at the National Liberty Ship Memorial SS JEREMIAH O'BRIEN and at the maritime monuments pierside near the bow of the ship.
        Heave Ho,


        In Honor Of: American Merchant Mariners and the US Navy Armed Guard
        Marker Text: "Dedicated to the memory of the American Merchant Mariners and the US Navy Armed Guard who gallantly went down to the sea in ship while defending the freedom of the United States during the time of war."

        Date of dedication: Oct 7, 1994

        Who Put it Here?: Golden Gate Chapter of the American Merchant Marines Veterans

        Description of Memorial: The plaque is situated next to an anchor on the pier. About thirty feet south on the pier is the memorial of the Baton Rouge Victory (upper left in photograph).
        ----- Original Message -----
        Sent: Sunday, December 05, 2010 10:38 PM
        Subject: Wreaths Across America Purchase Order - 12107

        Wreaths Across America
        P.O. Box 256

        Harrington, 04643
        Thank you for shopping with us. Your order information follows.

        Purchase Order

        Order Information
        Order Status:Confirmed
        Customer Information
        Customer Information
        Bill To Information
        Company Name:Pacific Merchant Marine Council, Navy League of the United State
        Name:Mr. Phelps Hobart, President
        Address:PO Box 191403
        Country:United States
        Zip/Postal Code:95819-1403
        Order Items
        Individual Wreaths Sponsorship
        (Donated in the name of: Pacific Merchant Marine Council, Navy League of the United States
        Their email address: pmmc@...
        Message: Thank you - We remember!
        ----- Original Message -----
        Sent: Sunday, December 05, 2010 10:00 PM
        Subject: Fw: 11DEC10 Plan of the Day

        --- On Mon, 12/6/10, Guilherme Freitas <g.h.freitas.usnscc@...> wrote:

        From: Guilherme Freitas <g.h.freitas.usnscc@...>
        Subject: 11DEC10 Plan of the Day
        Date: Monday, December 6, 2010, 5:47 AM

        All Hands,

        Attached is the Plan of the Day for our drill involving Wreaths Across America at San Francisco National Cemetery on 11DEC10.

        We will provide a color guard and help place 1700 wreaths.

             WO Freitas


        0800-0815               Muster at Veterans Administration San Francisco National Cemetery; www.wreathsacrossamerica.org

        0815-0845               Color Guard Detail and Bugler prepare for ceremony

        0845-0900               Fall in for ceremony

        0900-1000               Wreaths Across America ceremony

        1000-1200               Placement of wreaths throughout cemetery with National Society Daughters of the American Revolution La Puerta de Oro San Francisco Chapter

        1200                        Liberty Call

      • Pacific Merchant Marine Council
        Ahoy Members and Friends, Our council holiday luncheon December 11 is not the only thing going on in San Francisco. Below is some recent E-mail correspondence
        Message 3 of 4 , Dec 8, 2012
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          Ahoy Members and Friends,
          Our council holiday luncheon December 11 is not the only thing going on in San Francisco. Below is some recent E-mail correspondence pertaining to the Wreaths Across America ceremony at the San Francisco National Cemetery at the Presidio San Francisco, December 15.
          We thank member CDR Kurt Birkhahn for answering the call to represent the US Merchant Marine at the wreath laying ceremony at the Presidio.
          We also thank the Arkansas Division Sea Cadets for their assistance distributing the wreaths and otherwise assisting.
          May I encourage all of you to attend the ceremony at a National Cemetery near you? You can find the details on each by visiting http://www.wreathsacrossamerica.org. Photos and a report appreciated.
          It is not too late to individually donate funds for a wreath as well. The council donated wreaths this year to the Presidio Cemetery.
          Wreaths Sponsorship
                                                                                            Selected Location: CAPNSF - San Francisco National Cemetery at Presidio San Francisco
                                                                                          In Memory Of... American Merchant Marine Veterans
          Past, present, and future - the Pacific Merchant Marine Council is engaged in maritime activities. 
          See many of you at the luncheon on the 11th!
          Heave Ho,
          Phelps Hobart, President
          Pacific Merchant Marine Council
          Navy League of the United States
          (916) 739-6949

          ----- Original Message -----
          Sent: Saturday, December 08, 2012 8:47 AM
          Subject: Re: Wreath Across America - assistance

          Kurt: Thank you for taking the time to represent the US Merchant Marine and Navy Services. Know they appreciate your taking the time out of your busy schedule. 
          BZ Kurt. 

          RADM Frank Johnston,USMS
          Vice President/Commissioner
          Board of Pilot Commissioners for
          the Bays of San Francisco, San Pablo and Suisun

          On Dec 7, 2012, at 23:58, Frank Opelski wrote:

          CDR Kurt Birkhahn:
          Thank you for responding to the short notice request for a representative of the U.S. Merchant Marine to participate in the Wreaths Across America Ceremony at the San Francisco National Cemetery on Saturday, 15 December 2012, rain or shine. Your support to honor the veterans is appreciated and I am looking forward to meeting you. Please forward a copy of your biography to me at your earliest convenience.
          To avoid congestion on the cemetery roads, we plan to direct as much traffic as possible to the parking lot for the chapel located adjacent to the cemetery. Since you are part of the official party, drive through the cemetery gate and ask one of the personnel directing traffic where to park. I recommend arriving at the cemetery by 0800, then ask for me, Tim Albert or Edgar Deleon for further instructions. In the pavilion to the right of the memorial, refreshments will be available at no charge.
          There will be representatives for the Army, the Navy, the Marines, the Air Force, the Coast Guard, the Merchant Marine and the POWs/MIAs. The seven service representatives will be introduced and place the ceremonial wreath for their service branch at a designated point during the ceremony.
          Following is an overview of the ceremony plan. This year, the Band of the Golden West from Travis AFB is joining the WAA ceremony for the first time. At 0830, The band will begin playing for approximately 30 minutes. At 0900, the actual ceremony will start, There will be a short parade on the concrete walkway to the monument where the podium is located and the service representatives will take their seats to the right of the podium until called upon to place their ceremonial wreath. The parade will be led by a SFPD bagpiper, followed by the Civil Air Patrol Color Guard and the Navy Sea Cadet Color Guard, and then the service representatives.
          After welcoming remarks by the master of ceremonies and the invocation by the chaplain, the keynote speaker will be introduced. Following the keynote speaker, the service representatives will be introduced and they will place the ceremonial wreath for their service. Afterwards the public will lay wreaths at the graves.
          FYI, following are several links to videos of the ceremony held last year.
          This first video shows Chuck Kohler who is a Pearl Harbor Survivor and was the keynote speaker. The Warriors Watch provided a motorcycle escort for him and his family from Concord where he resides to the cemetery and for his return to Concord.
          This second video was taken from the Huey flyover during the ceremony. The Huey will return this year; the flyover is scheduled at 0930 and it will make several passes.
          This third video shows the ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery held in a prior year. It is a powerful video and it was broadcast by one of the national television networks.
          Additional information is available at wreathsacrossamerica.org and more WAA videos are available at YouTube.com
          Thank you for joining us to remember and honor the departed veterans.
          Frank Opelski, Lt Col, CAP
          WAA Project Officer
          44th Composite Sqdn, CAWG

          In a message dated 12/7/2012 9:28:12 P.M. Pacific Standard Time, Kurt Birkhahn writes:

          It would be an honor to be present and unless otherwise directed, in dress blues with white gloves I will be ready to lay the wreath.

          Standing by for any further detail (muster time, specific meet location, protocol instructions)

          Thank you

          Sincerely & Respectfully,

          Kurt Birkhahn
          MARAD Pacific (MAR617) Safety & Security
          Marine Engineer & Surveyor, GTS Admiral Callaghan / MV Cape Orlando
          USDOT Maritime Administration
          201 Mission Street, STE 1800
          San Francisco CA 94105
          Desk 415-744-2589
          Fax 415-744-2576
          Cell 415-740-9887

          -----Original Message-----
          From: Pacific Merchant Marine Council
          Sent: Friday, December 07, 2012 4:32 PM
          To: RADM Brooks, CDR Birkhahn, CAPT Gedney, CAPT Grippi, RADM Johnston, CAPT Korwatch; CAPT Moloney, CAPT O'Brien, and CAPT Shafer,Cc; Karen Lynne Freitas
          Subject: Wreath Across America - assistance
          Importance: High

          RADM Brooks, CDR Birkhahn, CAPT Gedney, CAPT Grippi, RADM Johnston, CAPT Korwatch; CAPT Moloney, CAPT O'Brien, and CAPT Shafer,

          Ahoy All,

          You are all members of our Pacific Merchant Marine Council and you all have a background as an officer within the US Merchant Marine.

          We have received a call to action for one volunteer to represent the US Merchant Marine Saturday morning, 0900 December 15, to lay a ceremonial wreath at the San Francisco National Cemetery at the Presidio, San Francisco.

          It would be great to have several of you there but one is needed, preferably in uniform, to do the honors. Your name will be printed in the program.

          Please get back to me asap by reply E-mail if you can take the assignment on. Or if you can't.

          Our Arkansas Division Sea Cadets will be engaged as well.

          Heave Ho,

          Phelps Hobart, President
          Pacific Merchant Marine Council
          Navy League of the United States


          San Francisco National Cemetery at Presidio San Francisco - CAPNSF

          Sponsor A Wreath

          State: California
          Location Address: 1 Lincoln Blvd The Presidio San Francisco CA 94129
          Location Graves: 30000 Location
          Veteran Graves: 27000+
          Accepting Sponsorship Wreaths: Yes

          Volunteer Location Leader: Frank Opelski
          Telephone: 925-216-9850

          ----- Original Message -----
          From: Karen Freitas
          To: Phelps Hobart
          Sent: Friday, December 07, 2012 1:43 PM
          Subject: Wreath Across America - assistance

          Hello Phelps,
          The "Wreaths Across America" needs a person from the Merchant Marines to be apart of the wreath laying on Saturday December 15 - Presideo at the 0900 service. Suggested you or perhaps you have someone you can suggest to have this honor?
          They would place the wreath in honor of the Merchant Marines  - would be great if they were in uniform however not necessary for the Merchant Marines - all other service organizations are being represented.

          They can contact me directly for additional information.

          Cheers- INST Freitas

          Would need an answer so that their name can appear in the program.

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