RIVERSIDE, Ohio (WDTN) – Ahead of the official Memorial Day holiday, current and former service members honored fallen heroes during a memorial roll call ceremony.

The ceremony, co-hosted by the Air Force Research Labratory’s 711th Human Performance Wing and the 88th Air Base Wing from Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, honored 2,800 fallen service members from ten Miami Valley counties involved in conflicts from WWII to the present.

An invocation, followed by opening remarks from Col. Elena Oberg, the Air Force Research Laboratory vice commander proceeded several stories from Gold Star families about their lost loved ones.

Catherine Beers-Conrad is the daughter of Platoon Sergeant Jack Beers, a Vietnam War soldier killed in combat.

“Daddy left behind a young wife of 29, three young children; I was not quite nine at the time,” she explained.

Beers-Conrad read her father’s Distinguished Service Cross for valor certification to the audience and described her memories of him.

“In the larger scope, those individual family histories are part of America’s history,” said Alejandron Villalva, another member of the 711th Wing and the relative of soldier who died as a POW in World War II.

The ceremony took place outside at the Memorial Park near the Museum of the U.S. Air Force. 

Museum director, Lt. General Retired Jack Hudson said, “It’s important to remember the stories, keep those stories alive and pass them down so future generations remember as well.”