A Memorial to our Brothers
On Friday, 5 July 2013, the Colorado Springs FACs dedicated a new memorial to honor the brave FACs and support personnel who have been killed in military actions in Iraq and Afghanistan since 1975.
There were nearly 350 people in attendance at the TACP/FAC memorial dedication ceremony in Memorial Park in Colorado Springs. We honored the six new FACs or Joint Terminal Attack Controllers (JTACs) that had been killed in Southwest Asia since the end of the war in SEA. There was an additional name added to the existing FAC Memorial that was inadvertently left off the 2008 FAC Memorial. The new name was Lt Colonel Andrew Matyas, an 0-1 pilot killed in 1968.
Some of the 45 Honored Family members who attended the activities had never had the opportunity to honor their loved ones. It was a very moving ceremony. The USAF Academy Band, an Honor Guard from Peterson AFB, a bagpiper, a 21 gun volley and the playing of taps. Due to sequestration the only fly over we could get was a GPS satellite. Phil Litts, the FAC Association President read the name and circumstances of the death of Lt. Colonel Matyas and together with the dedication speaker, Colonel Sam Milam, the Commander of the 93rd Operations Support Wing placed a wreath at the base of the new granite monument. The Patriot Guard Riders (PGR) escorted the bus of Honored Family members from the hotel to the dedication site. The PGRs had an additional 23 riders ring the dedication site each holding a US flag.
This Memorial, shown below, is located in the Military Section of Memorial Park in Colorado Springs where the FAC Association memorial was installed in 2008.
These events were funded almost entirely from donations from fellow FACs. There was one large grant from a local Colorado Springs philanthropic organization and a donation from the FAC Association. Because of the generosity of the FACs we were able to pay for all the travel expenses, hotel rooms and food for all the Honored Family members that attended the events. There were some very happy folks who otherwise would not have been able to travel to this event.
One of the daughters of Lt Colonel Matyas, who was a very young girl when her father died, really captured what this event was all about in an email she sent to one of our dedication planning team members.
"It was such a true honor to meet all of you and spend some time finally gaining some understanding of just how important the FAC units were in Vietnam. I was too young at 10 to ask the questions, and there was really no one in my circle that could have answered the questions anyway. In a way I feel empowered, I can now actually tell people a bit about what my father did in the war and I can also intelligently discuss some of the locations he experienced and even point out on a map where he was killed. I knew so little previously that I would shy away from talking about his history; I knew I was proud of him, that was a given, but I never had the words to express all that entailed. I will never forget that the greatest gift that you all provided to me over the past few days was that I now have the ability to articulate my feelings. Being silent because of ignorance is not very cathartic. Thanks to you and the others that I met in Colorado, I now have a voice."
Later that afternoon the FAC Association participated in the dedication of a Plaque to honor those airmen who served as FACs, ALOs, and their support personnel during the conflict in Southeast Asia from 1962 to 1975. The Plaque was hung in the Southeast Asia Pavilion at the Air Force Academy. The dedication also included a special tribute to the 29 Academy graduates who so served and gave their last full measure of devotion. The ceremony took place in the Atrium Room of Doolittle Hall (The Association of Graduates building) at the Air Force Academy.