Death, no matter when or how it comes, is an inevitable part of life, yet we're never prepared to say goodbye to a family member or friend.
This month, we had to do just that. We said, "until we meet again" to a member of the Civil Air Patrol and long-time supporter of Wreaths Across America.
Richard Gammon was born May 17, 1943, in the Widow Brown’s Tavern, later Barrett’s Farm, a historic part of the history of Concord, Massachusetts. Upon graduating from Concord-Carlisle High School, he joined the U.S. Air Force. He would go on to marry his wife Marcia, and they welcomed the birth of their daughter Brenda while stationed in the Netherlands. They returned stateside, and Rick retired from the Airforce in 1983. He and his family eventually settled in Maine where Rick began a broadcasting career working in radio and television.
For years, Rick served as a driver for the Disabled American Veterans (DAV) before suffering a massive heart attack in 2006. He was brought back from the brink of death by the firefighters and paramedics of the Bangor Fire Department, station 6. For the next 11 years, Rick would show all who knew and loved him what it meant to live life to the fullest.
In October of 2007, Rick joined the Bangor-Brewer Squadron of Civil Air Patrol as a logistics officer. He served in the position for several years and was recognized by the squadron and the Maine Wing for running one of the best logistics programs in the Wing. In October of 2014, Maj Gammon accepted the position of Squadron Commander for the Bangor squadron. This position required him to lead 40 plus members to achieve the missions of Civil Air Patrol. Maj Gammon connected to his staff and cadets both personally and professionally and assisted all of us in becoming better people.
On top of the day to day duties of running a squadron, Maj Gammon became a mission scanner and observer flying fire watch missions.
The Civil Air Patrol Cadets meant the world to Rick. For three years he accompanied cadets to Arlington National Cemetery and assisted with laying wreaths at the cemetery. This trip changed the lives of many cadets, and in fact, his daughter Brenda shared with us one cadet credits Rick with preventing his suicide attempt.
CAP Lt. Col Cathie Spaulding said, "Maj Richard Gammon’s accomplishments were truly outstanding and reflected great credit upon himself, Maine Wing and the Civil Air Patrol."
What we will all remember most and cherish forever is Rick's positive attitude and sense of humor on display here in one of his many "photobomb" opportunities.
This video was produced back in October of 2015 when I had the privilege and honor to fly with Maj Rick Gammon and Col James Jordan.
Maj Rick Gammon has become and will continue to be one of the 100 Reasons Why We Remember, Honor, and Teach as we Countdown to Wreath Day.
The many stops along the way at schools, veterans organizations, police and fire stations were also overflowing with love and good wishes.
I want my daughter to grow up understanding what true heroes are and the sacrifices that have been made for us to live in a free country.
Complete strangers just moments before, together, Denny and Ella read the name on her grandfather's headstone and talked some about him while laying his wreath.
"When she explained to us what Wreaths Across America is and does, it was a no-brainer for me that we would get involved."
On behalf of her father Rod, Cindi shared her grandfather's words with the audience during the memorial service. You can hear her presentation and see other highlights from the service in this video.
These two quiet and humble individuals are a team dedicated to giving back to their nation. They educate others by sharing their experiences and lessons of love and sacrifice not just from the war but the other "battlefields of life."
To better serve our volunteers in 2018 and beyond, we're reorganizing and providing more tools to support their inspiring efforts.
"I witnessed a few of the boys laying an "in honor of" wreath. They did it with reverence."
Guided by an infrangible faith when the supply of lifejackets ran out they gave up their own to save the lives of others.
"I went up to that hill and looked at all of those graves of my colleagues who have gone before me.
Volunteers planning to assist in removing wreaths are asked to attend a short briefing at the McClellan Gate at 8:30 a.m. and to follow these guidelines.
As witnessed through this video, the volunteer commitment of patriotic citizens is a year-round effort that culminates in a remarkable day of unity, friendship, and healing.
Some give the ultimate sacrifice of a loved one and are often left in sorrow to wonder if other citizens remember or appreciate what they gave up for liberty and justice for all.
Wreaths Across America knows some of the finest musicians out there are members of our military performance groups. Each month, we like to feature the musical works of those talented individuals.
Each live, balsam remembrance wreath is a gift of respect and appreciation, donated by a private citizen or organization and placed on the graves by volunteers as a small gesture of gratitude for the freedoms Americans enjoy.
In just a few days, Paulette and her fellow Troop Greeters will welcome veterans, Gold Star families, and other traveling dignitaries who are part of the Annual Wreath Escort to Arlington National Cemetery.
Grand Marshals – Vietnam Medal of Honor Recipient, Colonel Roger Donlon, U.S. Army Special Forces (Retired) and his wife, Norma, a Vietnam-era Gold Star wife – will lead the caravan as it travels down the East Coast stopping at schools, memorials, and other locations along the way.
Driver Pat Wortham is an independent contractor for Dart Transit and a member of the Wreaths Across America honor fleet. He also has a rich history of military service in his family.
The holidays are traditionally celebrated with music so tune into WAA Radio throughout the holidays to hear musical Season's Greetings from some of the finest musicians in America!
"I was only 21 at the time, and we didn't know what we had come upon. The conditions were horrible, and there were all those people in striped pajamas."
"This contribution, like the one we made last year, will help provide an opportunity for professional drivers to transport wreaths across the United States.
Rhonda says she's experienced the "power of the wreath" watching people react to her daughter's presentations.
The telegram from the Department of War said that Albert and two other men had been shot down near Wollseifen, Germany, on Dec. 12, and that they had been missing since.
Yes! There's still time to sponsor a veterans' remembrance wreath in time for National Wreaths Across America Day.
"We were replacements," explained Charles. "My best friend Luke Moore and I went over together. He was a First scout, and I was a Second scout. We were taking a town when we were shot at by a sniper..."
Wreaths Across America is forever grateful for the thousands of volunteers who place veterans' remembrance wreaths on the headstones of our fallen as they say their names aloud every December. Remember, we are guests on the hallowed grounds of participating cemeteries and we ask that you honor their rules and regulations. If you're volunteering at Arlington this year, here's what you need to know.
Wreaths Across America announces open loads available as the Honor Fleet expands to transport America's Respect.
"I remember back then when we were told several times Vincent wouldn't make it through the night and I went to the chapel and said, 'God is there anything I can do to change your mind? He's our only son."
"One thing I will never forget is getting into Arlington and it was a cold, rainy day with freezing rain, and I remember looking around at all the empty headstones thinking to myself oh my God how are we going to do this."
"As part of our Wreaths Across America project, we work with the Boy Scouts, the Girl Scouts, the Explorers, Young Marines, and sometimes 4H members," Mike explains. "We try to engage our groups the way that I think the founder of Wreaths Across America intended."