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Fallen heroes honored during Memorial Day ceremony aboard USS Midway

Posted at 2:34 PM, May 27, 2024

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — America’s fallen heroes were honored aboard the U.S.S. Midway on Monday as part of the annual Memorial Day ceremony.

The ceremony's location also brought honor especially to those who departed from San Diego's naval piers and never returned home.

Lynda Hilliard, a retired Vietnam War-era U.S. Army nurse, was the main special guest speaker in Monday's program. She spoke about the military nurse corps members who lost their lives during the Vietnam War.

"The Army nurses who deployed to Vietnam were the youngest cohort of wartime Army nurses ever deployed to a war, with the average age of 23.6. I think the average age of our troops was about 20-21 years old as well, and this is all according to the Vietnam War Memorial," Hilliard said.

Hilliard read the names of the fallen nurses and then dedicated a moment of silence to them afterwards.

Petty Officer Kyle Hoang, in the U.S. Navy Sea Cadet Corps, attended the ceremony and said he either wanted to join the Navy or become a paramedic. He's also close in age to the statistic that Hilliard shared and took it personally.

"It's really eye opening to hear that it's not just infantry that gets hurt, it's nurses, it's everyone," Hoang said.

Monday morning's ceremony also included special guest speaker Christine Roberson, a Scouting America Eagle Scout, as well as San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria.

Gloria spoke about the highly-anticipated “Freedom Park” which is currently under construction, near the USS Midway Museum.

Freedom Park is being built to commemorate America and San Diego's fallen heroes.

The ceremony ended with all three special guest speakers helping lay the wreath, and with the Missing Man Flyover.

The Missing Man Flyover was a moment that really touched Keith Howenstein, a Navy veteran who said she served on three different ships over five deployments.

"I myself lost four fellow veterans, sailors on two of my ships. I saw it for myself, so I say to them, 'Thank you for your service' and 'You are not forgotten,’" Howenstein said.

Organizers of Monday's ceremony also wanted to remind everyone that this year marks 80 years sinceD Day, which included over 2,500 fallen American heroes.