BILOXI, Miss. (NNS) -- Chief petty officers (CPOs) and 1st class petty officers who have been selected for promotion to chief from commands onboard Keesler Air Force Base and the Stennis Space Center participated in a community relations project at the Biloxi National Cemetery Sept. 8.
More than 50 Mississippi Gulf Coast chiefs and 1st class petty officers worked together cleaning headstones, markers and niche covers at gravesites.
Center for Naval Aviation Technical Training Unit (CNATTU) Keesler Command Master Chief James Contreras said the cemetery needs regular cleaning, due to Biloxi’s warm and humid climate, to ensure it is kept in a condition appropriate for the nation’s heroes.
“This is an opportunity for us to connect the past with the future,” said Contreras. “Washing these headstones is a humbling experience which allows both our chiefs and selectees to honor those that laid the groundwork for today’s successes.”
Biloxi National Cemetery was established in 1934. The 54-acre property is located on the grounds of the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, near Keesler Air Force Base.
“What makes this place special is that it’s all about brotherhood,” said Chief Aerographer’s Mate Roxanne Cuttill, a CNATTU Keesler instructor and the community relations project coordinator. “It is our responsibility to never allow their sacrifices to be forgotten.”
The volunteers also painted the railing to the Biloxi National Cemetery Monument and planted flowers in a garden at the Prisoner of War/Missing in Action Memorial.
“It is a privilege to be here with the newly selected chiefs on this awesome morning to honor the men and women who dedicated their lives to service of country,” said Senior Chief Electrician’s Mate Andre Syas. “Most of us have a personal connection to deceased veterans, whether here or at another national cemetery.”
CNATTU Keesler trains service members in the electronic calibration of afloat and aviation equipment, meteorological and oceanographic observing and forecasting, and the maintenance and repair of meteorological equipment.
CNATTU Keesler is a training unit of the Center for Naval Aviation Technical Training (CNATT) located at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida. CNATT develops, delivers and supports aviation technical training at 28 sites located throughout the continental United States and Japan under Naval Education and Training Command.
For more news from Center for Naval Aviation Technical Training, visit www.navy.mil/local/cnatt/.