FAIRBANKS, Alaska - The third annual Fallen Heroes Memorial Ceremony, held at the park, saw six more names added to the wall at the Trooper Gabe Rich and Trooper Scott Johnson Memorial Park in North Pole, on Saturday. Of the six added, five served in US Army: Private First Class, Gilbert Ketzler Jr., Staff Sergeant, Steven Wengelewski Jr., Sergeant First Class, Johnathan McCain, Chief Warrant Officer, Wayne Jones, and Private First Class, Kermit Labelle Jr. The other man honored; Battalion Chief, Phillip Rounds, served the UAF Fire Department. These men join a list of others in the borough who have fallen in the line of duty, including Emergency Medical Technician, Christine Pennington and Police Sergeant, Allen Brandt.
Service members across multiple branches were joined by the public in honoring the fallen. Governor, Mike Dunleavy was also in attendance to pay respect. Borough Mayor, Bryce Ward, read aloud- a proclamation by three interior mayors, declaring Fallen Heroes Day. He went on to encourage residents to pay tribute to those who have lost their lives in service. North Pole Mayor, Michael Welch, spoke on how he believes these service members should be remembered.
"We often portray someone's life by starting with the date they are born, we then insert a little dash, and we follow it up with the date of their death," stated Mayor Welch. "I maintain that it is the little dash that is the most important because it represents their entire life, say for two days. That person has spent their entire life among us. All of their happiness, their sorrow, their successes and accomplishments sometimes possible by, at times, learning through their failures, and their destiny as it intertwines with those that are family, friends, and comrades in arms."
To all of those who have served, and to their families who sacrifice, we honor you.