Memorial Day – A time to reflect and give honor to the men and women of the Armed Forces

This nation would not be the nation it is today were it not for the men and women of the Armed Forces stepping up to protect it from our adversaries. Memorial Day is a day we stop and take time to remember those who’ve given their lives in service to county – some giving the ultimate sacrifice.

On Monday, May 29, three services will be held in honor of our Armed Forces heroes. First service of the day will be held in the greater Maple Valley/Hobart area at:

  • Maple Valley/Hobart Cemetery, 9 a.m., located at 25115 SE 208th St. in the greater Maple Valley/Hobart area

Following Maple Valley, a second service will be held in Black Diamond at:

  • Black Diamond Cemetery, 10:30 a.m., located just off the Maple Valley/Black Diamond Hwy. (SR 169), on the corner of Roberts Dr. and Morgan St.

Maple Valley/Black Diamond Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Post 5052 will conduct the simple ceremonies at both local cemeteries.

Then the last service of the day to remember and honor our military heroes will take place at Tahoma National Cemetery beginning at 1 p.m. in the Main Flag Pole Assembly Area. Keynote Speaker for the event will be US Coast Guard (USCG) Lieutenant Commander (LCDR) Jeffrey T. Dolan, who came to the Puget Sound in 2016 as the USCG Sector Puget Sound Command Intelligence Officer in charge of supporting regulatory law enforcement, and port security related missions in the Puget Sound region.

Throughout his 30-year career, LCDR Dolan has worked in both intelligence and operational positions. Enlisting in the Reserves in 1987, he’s seen assignments on three cutters, a marine safety office and a small boat station completing A-school training in port security and qualifying as a boarding officer as well as small boat coxswain.

After he was commissioned in 1997, LCDR Dolan served in the Joint Navy/Coast Guard Harbor Defense Command in Honolulu, HI. While in Hawaii, he was assistant operations officer and later assigned to Coast Guard Fourteen as a search and rescue controller.

After September 11, 2001, LCDR Dolan was recalled to active duty and served as operations officer, homeland officer, and command intelligence officer at Group Honolulu. While in these various positions, he executed harbor and coastal security, search and rescue, and maritime law enforcement missions around the main Hawaiian Islands.

In 2003, LCDR Dolan became the first to assume a newly created billet as Team Leader, Field Intelligence Support Team in Honolulu. Then in 2006, he headed across the mainland to the Coast Guard Academy in New London, CT where he was one of two officers assigned to teach intelligence and national security policy.

Other assignments over the years brought him to US Forces Japan at Yokota Air Base where he was a Coast Guard Liaison Officer; and Alameda, CA at the Maritime Intelligence Fusion Center Pacific where he was conducting tactical and operational intelligence support to Coast Guard Commanders in the Pacific Theater.

Education included an Associate of Science degree and Justice Administration, a BS degree in Business Management and a Master of Science in Strategic Intelligence. LCDR Dolan’s military decorations include the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Coast Guard Commendation Medal (2), Coast Guard Achievement Medal, Humanitarian Service Medal and the Special Operations Service Medal (3).

At the beginning of the TNC Memorial Day ceremonies, a sheer thrill that will get the patriotic blood flowing will be a flyover of the WWII B-25, “Grumpy,” from the Historic Flight Foundation. Pilot of the B-25 will be John Sessions with his Co-Pilot, Paul Wallis. Sessions is the son of two WWII veterans. His father was a squad leader in the 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division (combat jumps behind Utah Beach, Holland/Bulge, Germany). His mother was his father’s nurse (she outranked him) at the end of nineteen months’ convalescence from war wounds. In honor of his parents, John wears the 501st patch on his flight suit.

His flying experience ranges from a de Havilland Beaver floatplane to a Mig-29 fighter jet. In 2009, Session recovered B-25 “Grumpy” from England, retracing the Lend-Lease route through Iceland, Greenland, Hudson Bay and across Canada to the Seattle area. In 2015, he flew a Spitfire throughout England to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Britain and has been invited to fly a C-47 in the 75th anniversary (2019) of D-Day.

Wallis is a longtime pilot with Hawaiian Airlines and currently a pilot with the Boeing Company flying the B-787 and B-777. His father was a B-25 Aircraft Commander at the closing stages of WWII, and while in the process of staging to the Pacific theater, hostilities ceased. Then in the 1950’s, Wallis’s father was a B-25 Instructor Pilot in the Air Force. Honored to be able to flying the B-25 as his father did, Wallis also looks forward to taking part in the Memorial Day 2017 ceremonies.

Following the B-25 will be a second flyover by King County Sheriff’s Department in their Guardian One Huey Helicopter. Pilots include Guy Herndon (Navy Veteran) and Hersh Hoaglan (Marine Veteran). The Air Unit just celebrated 25 years of serving the citizens of King County and the region. Patrols include catching the bad guys and assisting officers on the ground as well as Search and Rescue.

Be sure to come early, as parking space is limited in the cemetery. Visitors should plan on walking to and from your parking spot to the ceremony. Parking is available for Disabled passengers and drivers with a shuttle to and from the ceremony assembly area.

“The America we know today would not be the same were it not for the men and women we honor on Memorial Day.”