Team APG paid tribute to the families of fallen service members during the Gold Star Mother’s and Family’s Day breakfast at the main post chapel Sept. 24, 2017.
The nation observes Gold Star Mother’s Day the last Sunday of September, to honor families of fallen service members. The APG Religious Support Office and Army Community Service co-hosted the event.
After Soldiers from the APG Sergeant Audie Murphy Club escorted 24 Gold Star families into the colorfully decorated fellowship hall, Chaplain Capt. Michael Kayle, garrison resource manager, read the Presidential Proclamation declaring Sept. 24, 2017 Gold Star Mother’s and Family’s Day.
Attendees included APG Senior Commander Maj. Gen. Randy Taylor; Maj. Gen. Kirk Vollmecke, program executive officer for Intelligence, Electronic Warfare, and Sensors; Command Sgt. Maj. Frank Gutierrez, the senior enlisted advisor of the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command; Garrison Commander Col. Robert Phillips III, and Garrison Command Sgt. Maj. Toese Tia Jr.
Chapel volunteers served the families and guests breakfast and Phillips offered remarks. He said the event is about supporting Gold Star mothers and families as a community.
“Today it’s our opportunity to show how much we respect our Gold Star mothers and families, how thankful we are for your child or family member’s sacrifice for this great nation and to remind you that you forever remain part of our great military family.”
Phillips called the fallen service members “heroes.”
“Your loved ones were heroes to so many people; their family, friends, fellow service members and to each American citizen they never met but fought for anyway,” he said.
Mike Farlow, ACS Survivor Outreach Services coordinator, introduced each of the Gold Star families. He said he is inspired by each family and noted the many contributions Gold Star family members make in their communities and for the nation.
It’s kind of a bittersweet thing,” he said, “It is the best of the best. It is the Soldier, the Marine, the military member that made that ultimate sacrifice. These people [Gold Star family members] here today are carrying on the legacy for those loved ones.”
Maryland Gold Star Mothers president and chaplain Janice Chance called the APG community “family.”
“APG has embraced us like no other installation,” she said.
Chance said she carries on the legacy of her son, Marine Capt. Jesse Melton III, who was killed while supporting combat operations in Parwan Province, Afghanistan in 2008. She said Maryland Gold Star Mothers are devoted to supporting veterans, active duty service members, their families, and the local community.
“I challenge anyone that is hurting and going through things to start serving, it will make you feel better,” she said.
She added that she is thankful for the network of Gold Star families in the region who encourage each other.
“I tell people, I cry, but I don’t dry my tears, and I will not be paralyzed by my pain,” she said. “I will continue to move forward and I am so glad for the Gold Star Mothers organization, for my Gold Star sisters and brothers because they are there; we share a common bond.”
The program included inspirational music by Renesha Robinson, of the U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Command, and the invocation by Garrison Chaplain Lt. Col. Michael King.
After the program, several Gold Star family members expressed gratitude.
Gold Star mother Synthie Wooden Carter said the breakfast was her first Gold Star event. Her son, Army Pvt. Calvin Wooden II, died in a car accident while stationed at Fort Riley, Kansas in 1999.
“The event was very good, very helpful,” she said. “I met someone that lost their only child, like me. I never met anyone [like that] I thought I was one of the only. I think it’s a needed service.”
Gold Star father Garry Green said Gold Star events are all about supporting each other. His daughter, Army Spc. Toccara Green, was killed during an improvised explosive device attack on her convoy in Asad, Iraq in 2005.
“There is nothing but love here, people recognize what you have gone through, and they sympathize with you,” he said. “They encourage you to more forward.”
About the SOS program
Survivor Outreach Services offers family members of the fallen access to support, information, and services, closest to where they live, for as long as it’s needed.
For more information, contact Farlow at 410-278-2435 or firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.armymwr .com/family/survivor-outreach.aspx. For more information about Maryland Gold Star Mothers, visit http://marylandgoldstarmoms.com/.