WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE — Family members, friends and fellow Scorpion coworkers recently gathered at the National Museum of the United States Air Force, for the 603rd Air Control Squadron’s memorial installation and dedication.
Maj. Thomas Wingard, F-135 supply chain manager for the Defense Contracting Management Agency, worked for a couple of years with Jane Leach, NMUSAF special events, to gain approval for the memorial to be placed in the museum’s Memorial Park.
“The Memorial that you will see today was created in 2003,” said Wingard. “The 603rd Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron was activated Dec. 31, 1945, and it was redesignated as the 603rd Air Control Squadron March 31, 1992, assigned to Aviano Air Base, Italy, from April 1, 1994 until it was deactivated, Jan. 31, 2013.”
He provided background information about the 603rd ACS, known as the Scorpions, regarding the activations and deactivations of the squadron. Originally there were three names on the memorial of unit members who died between 1994 and 2000. Senior Airman Christopher Croft died in a bicycle accident June 1994, and both Airman 1st Class Shaun Anderson, and 1st Lt. Michael Lacy, died in separate vehicle accidents at the beginning of 2000.
While Wingard worked to have the memorial placed at the museum, he was able to incorporate the two additional Scorpion’s names on the memorial who died after the original monument was made. They were Airman 1st Class Antoine Holt, who died in a mortar attack at Balad Air Base in April 2004 and Staff Sgt. Ricardo Duran, Jr., who died from complications of an asthma attack in November 2005.
With the help of then Chief Master Sgt. Mike Ivey and the 179th Airlift Wing, the memorial was transported to Ohio.
During the ceremony, Wingard made presentations to Dr. David Tillotson, III, Director of the NMUSAF, on behalf of the members of the 603rd ACS members and the families of their fallen Scorpions. Next, he made a presentation to the family of Staff Sgt. Ricardo Duran, Jr., and to the family of 1st Lt. Michael Lacy.
After the ceremony inside the museum, family and friends gathered outside at Memorial Park, took photos and reminisced about their coworkers and loved ones.