55th SRW Cold War Memorial
The 55th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing’s Cold War Memorial was dedicated to it’s veterans on 5 September 2003 at the US Air Force Museum’s Memorial Park just outside of Wright Patterson AFB, Ohio. It is truly an imposing and unique tribute to the Fightin’ Fifty-Fifth, which will stand as a proud and eternal symbol throughout the ensuing years.
The impressive monument, the centerpiece of the memorial, is an eight-foot high, polished India black granite marker resting on a base. The base has engraved upon it the names of members of the 55th SRW who gave their lives during the Cold War. It stands in a patio-type area of about 1400 tan bricks, over 560 of which are engraved with the names of donors or in memoriam to others. (Specific brick locations can be found at link above) The corners of the area are graced by four black granite benches. Three honor members of the operational squadrons (38SRS, 343SRS, 338SRS) and their families, while the fourth is a composite dedicated to personnel and their families of the 55th Air Refueling Squadron, The 55th A&E Sqd, 55th OMS, 55th FMS, 55th Recon Tech Sqd, and the 55th HQ Sqd, all of whom supported the flying operations. The wing motto, Videmus Omnia (We See All), is engraved on the foot of each bench.
Beginning in early 2001, the 55th SRW Association’s Board of Directors began the process to place a monument at the USAF Museum to honor those members of the 55th SRW who served honorably and with distinction, and to those who died in the line of duty during the Cold War, and to all their families. Thus came to a final realization well over two years of planning, designing, development, fund raising and implementation by many dedicated members and supporters of the 55th SRW Association. The commissioning and funding of the 55th SRW Cold War memorial/monument is the single most significant accomplishment of your Association. It is also it’d largest undertaking. Well over 600 55th veterans, widows, families and friends, and interested onlookers witnessed the very appropriate and moving dedication ceremony in the bright, dazzling September sunlight. This article will not do justice, nor adequately describe the event. One cannot put into words the sincere gamut of emotions felt by those assembled – honor, pride, solemnity, celebration, et al. It truly was an occasion where you had to be there to appreciate the memorial experience.
Association president Bill Ernst presided over the agenda. He welcomed the assemblage, the colors were presented, and the Pledge of Allegiance recited by all. He then gave opening remarks defining why and how the monument came to be. The 55th’s own Reverend Fred Glass blessed the ceremony and the memorial with a very fitting invocation in his always inimitable style.
LtGen (USAF Ret) C. Norman Wood, a 55th SRW alumnus who began his operational AF career as an RB-47 Raven at Forbes AFB, KS. gave a most inspirational and eloquent dedication speech befitting the occasion. Accepting the monument on behalf of the USAF Museum was it’s Director, MajGen(USAF Ret) Charles Metcalf.
Honor Roll/Bell Tolls
The ceremony included the solemn reading of each individual’s name of the Honor Roll on the monument’s base. As each name was read, the 55th bell was sounded to punctuate the reverence of the moment. The striking was done in turn by 55th veterans Harry Tull and Larry LaFlair, with LtCol Kurt Kramer representing the active duty wing. Reverend Glass gave the benediction, an echoing TAPS was played, and Reg Urschler roared overhead in his P-51 Mustang in a defining salute to conclude the ceremony. Afterwards, most everyone in the gathering mingled about with their various emotions and thoughts as they examined the monument up close, and read the engraved bricks to seek out their own, and those of family and friends.
- sit back and view video of the development of the memorial(45m)