Sea Foam: Beaufort flyover saves Memorial Day in one Georgia town

June 8, 2009 

Thanks to Mike Vena, assistant principal and athletics director at Whitewater High School in Fayetteville, Ga., for telling how the Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort made a big difference at the school and community.

Mike writes:

Every Memorial Day weekend, Fayette County uses its stadium to hold a ceremony.

This year the ceremony was delayed to May 29 because of a facility conflict. Many were disappointed until the VMFA-312 Checkerboards from Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort saved the day.

The ceremony honoring those who have served in the military and those who have paid the ultimate price to protect our country was shown live in Baghdad via an NBC satellite.

It featured speeches by dignitaries, music and fireworks.

But the highlight of the evening was the flyover following "The Star-Spangled Banner."

The flyover was performed by the VMFA-312 Checkerboards. Flying four F/A-18 Hornets from Beaufort were Lt. Col. Robert Rauenhorst, Capt. Justin Wortendyke, Capt Travis Barksdale and Capt. Matthew Gaede.

We are most grateful to these gentlemen. While attending a reception after the ceremony that night, I was informed that several World War II veterans were sitting in the front row and that many of them were tearing up when the flyover took place.

Additionally, our local Marine Corps recruiters, who were in attendance in their Class A uniforms, were ecstatic.

I need to also express my gratitude to Capt. John Simmons and Capt. Patrick Parker of VMF-533 and to Capt. Kyle Haire for their assistance in helping me find pilots willing to assist with the flyover.

We have had Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort to assist us twice, and I must say that these pilots have had a major influence on the increased patriotism and willingness to serve our country in Fayette County, Ga. It makes you proud of our service men and women.

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