JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (NNS) -- Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 14 held its annual Killed In Action Memorial Ceremony aboard Naval Air Station Jacksonville May 5, to remember fallen shipmates.
In 2004, seven Seabees of NMCB 14 were killed in two attacks in Al Anbar Province, Iraq, while in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
"We're here today to stop, reflect and honor our Seabees who gave their lives so we all can live in a country with all the freedoms that we cherish," said retired Equipment Operator Chief(SCW) Michael Falk, master of ceremony for the event. "Today, we remember Seabees who lived by our core values of honor, courage and commitment. We must never forget the enormous price paid by our brothers and their families so all Americans can enjoy liberty."
Paying the ultimate sacrifice in 2004 were Steelworker 2nd Class(SW) Jason Dwelley, Equipment Operator 3rd Class Christopher Dickerson, Builder 2nd Class Michael Anderson, Equipment Operator 2nd Class Trace Dossett, Construction Mechanic 2nd Class Scott McHugh, Builder 2nd Class Robert Jenkins and Steelworker 3rd Class Ronald Ginther.
NMCB-14 Executive Officer Lt. Cmdr. Kyle Croce addressed the gathering.
"What NMCB-14 Commanding Officer Capt. Sean McDonell said at last year's event still holds true, 'I know that nothing said today can diminish the sorrow that families, friends and fellow Seabees feel for our fallen comrades - so I will simply say thank you on behalf of a grateful battalion, Navy and nation for their service and sacrifice.'"
Croce added, "Many of us here today consider NMCB-14 as our family. When we serve together, we develop bonds and deep relationships that evolve into a brotherhood. We're fortunate at this time to have one of our brothers - who was combat-wounded in 2004 - as our keynote speaker. Please welcome, retired Builder 2nd Class Peter Herrick.
With his wife, Diana, at his side, Herrick smiled at the audience and said, "Believe me, it's a great honor to be here with everybody. We almost didn't make it today, so if I seem a little out of sorts - let's blame it partly on the blast and partly on the medications. Regardless, it's our pleasure to be with the NMCB-14 brotherhood again. Even though the VA has me listed as 'catastrophically disabled,' I still look at life as a big puzzle, and I always look for some humor in every part of it.
"Keep life simple. Be sure to cherish those who are close to you. It's okay to be sad sometimes - just don't let it wreck your life. You can be sad and still smile big time. Thanks for listening to me, thanks for the 'hoo-rah' and thanks for caring," concluded Herrick.
Croce awarded Herrick the honorary right to be designated as a Seabee Combat Warfare Specialist.
Retired Construction Electrician 1st Class and Vietnam veteran Richard Hoibragen said, "At 65, the greatest blessing I have is serving 17 years in the Seabee battalion and the ability to serve as commander of the VFW post in my community. It's my pleasure to be among the younger Seabees here at NMCB-14. It's an outstanding unit."
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