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Base honors veterans, history

Little Rock Air Force Base Airmen perform a retreat ceremony on base Nov. 9. More than 250 Airmen formed the first mass retreat ceremony in recent years, bringing five group formations, base officials, and local civic leaders together to remember the veterans who served their country. (Photo by Airman Vanessa Dale)

Little Rock Air Force Base Airmen perform a retreat ceremony on base Nov. 9. More than 250 Airmen formed the first mass retreat ceremony in recent years, bringing five group formations, base officials, and local civic leaders together to remember the veterans who served their country. (Photo by Airman Vanessa Dale)

LITTLE ROCK AIR FORCE BASE, Ark. -- In 1926 Congress approved the commemoration of the end of World War I with a holiday known as Armistice Day. Almost thirty years later Congress approved a change that would bring recognition to all veterans and was hereby known as Veterans Day.

It was in honor of this day that the men and women of Little Rock Air Force Base gathered in formation at Heritage Park Nov. 9 in one of the military's time-honored traditions - the Formal Retreat.

With the wind blowing the stars and stripes, base Honor Guard members saluted those lost with a 21-gun salute and a playing of "Taps." At the end of the last bugle note, two C-130s flew over the crowd of people that included not only base members, but also local civic leaders.

Helping remember all veterans that day was Tolleson Elementary School student Tommy Elkins Jr., son of Amanda and Army Master Sgt. Tommy Elkins Sr. from Camp Robinson.

Veterans Day shows the veterans we remember their bravery and courage, he said in an essay read at the ceremony.

"They give us hope and courage. They fight to protect us," said Tommy Jr. "They are the true heroes."

Arkansas Congressman Vic Snyder echoed those thoughts.

"We remember the contributions you have made," he said. "Thank you very, very much."
And with a sharp, "Sound Retreat!" Brig. Gen. Kip Self, 314th Airlift Wing commander, began the cascade of movement throughout the formation to pay respects to the American flag and to all veterans - past, present and future.

After seeing the last fold of the flag, Army Reserve 1st Lt. Devon Cockrell, a veteran who deployed to Taji, Iraq, almost two years ago, said he was touched by the ceremony.

"It was very powerful" seeing all the base people in formation for Veterans Day, he said. "It was beautiful - very moving."

More than 250 base personnel participated in the event.
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