The city of Winter Garden is remembering its war dead Monday, May 27, during its annual Memorial Day service, presented by the city and American Legion Post 63. It takes place at 8:30 a.m. at Veterans Memorial Park, 420 S. Park Ave.
Kurt Gies, commander of American Legion Post 63, will serve as master of ceremonies. The guest speaker will be Scott Gration, a retired U.S. Air Force major general.
Participants include Mayor John Rees, the color guard from the Winter Garden police and fire rescue departments, singer Geoff Bashioum and legion chaplain Rodney Walls. Wreaths will be placed at the memorial wall following the roll call of those who lost their lives in World Wars I and II and the Korean and Vietnam wars. Steve Heisner will play taps at the close of the program.
Gration grew up in Africa and is the son of American missionaries. He became a decorated fighter pilot with 274 combat sorties over Iraq. His leadership skills put him in a position to help lead the hunt for Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan, and his diplomatic assignments have included serving as the United States ambassador to Kenya, as U.S. special envoy to Sudan and as special assistant to President Barack Obama.
Gration retired as a major general from the U.S. Air Force after serving for 32 years as a fighter pilot and senior military leader.
Having spent nearly half his life in Africa and the Middle East, he has a deep and profound understanding of Kenya and East Africa, including the language and culture of each region. Scott remained in Kenya following his diplomatic assignment and served as a businessman and humanitarian for another five years. He now serves as a business consultant and public speaker. Gration recently published his unique and interesting experiences in a memoir, “Flight Path: Son of Africa to Warrior-Diplomat.”
He and his wife Judy live in Winter Garden. They have four children and eight grandchildren.
IN THEIR HONOR
The program is held in memory of Winter Garden residents who made the supreme sacrifice.
• World War I — 1st Lt. Hugh T. Gregory and Pvt. George R. Tamsitt
• World War II — Pvt. William C. Bray, PFC Rodney Connell, 2nd Lt. Roy Cosgrove, Sgt. W.H. Crawford, 2nd Lt. Jack Gray, PFC James B. Hennis, Pvt. Provia Ison, Capt. Walter L. Jordan, Lt. Col. George B. McMillan, Staff Sgt. Paul Parker, Cpl. David W. Tubb, Tech 4 John Vick
• Korean War — Staff Sgt. Buford L. Burns, PFC Arthur P. Nolan, Cpl. Elton E. Smoak
• Vietnam War — SP4 Charles Fields, SP5 Buford G. Johnson, Staff Sgt. Charles W. Love Jr., SP4 Gary Maloy, Lance Cpl. Cecil R. Moorman, Staff Sgt. Nathan E. Peacock Jr., Sgt. Charlie Rainey, Maj. Marion E. Reed, SP4 Herbert L. Thompson