All veterans in cemetery honored

By Jeff Smith

American Legion Post 160 after the salute for the dead at Hill City Cemetery on Memorial Day 2018. It was a beautiful morning and a nice event that serves to remember fallen military members.

The Memorial Day Remembrance Ceremony this past Monday was held to strengthen the reverence people have for those in the military. Memorial Day is a reminder of sacrifices that American citizens shouldn’t forget.

The ceremony is an annual commemoration of veterans that are in the Hill City cemetery and those that are buried other places but have ties to the Hill City area. The Marion Fitzsimonds American Legion Post 160 organizes the event.

Alan Case, commander of the American Legion, told the crowd to always remember the civic duties to keep America the land of the free and the home of the brave.

Case said after the service that when there is Memorial Day it is a time to really think about sacrifice.

“Some are still giving,” Case said.

Honoring those that have served were near and dear to the Legioneers heart and to many of the people that were in the audience at the ceremony.

The guest speaker was Kevin Reese. Case has been able to get to know him and his background through another organization of which he is a part.

Reese, 34, was 17 when he went to the Army recruiting office to try and enlist. At 19 he graduated from high school.

He decided to take the oath to serve in the United States Marine Corps not long after he graduated.

Reese has served all over the world. He has also been a deputy sheriff.

He held back tears as he said that Memorial Day was particularly special as he looked out and saw the flags in the cemetery placed on the graves to differentiate from the other graves.

He said he was reminded of one person that lies in the Arlington National Cemetery.

Reese was 27 when his friend Benjamin Palmer was killed.

“He was the reason I wanted to continue my  career as a Marine but he was also the reason I wanted to end my Marines career,” Reese said.

Reese was asked by a now-deceased Lieutenant Colonel Benjamin Palmer to be on a mobile training team to go to Afghanistan and train the Afghanistan National Police.

Palmer was shot down by a  gunman dressed in an Afghan police uniform in May of 2011.

Reese left the Marine Corps after he was asked by Palmer to be on the mobile training team.

“I had seen things that no one should see,” Reese said.

Palmer took another sergeant in place of Reese who was also killed.

“A gutless coward Afghan National Police Officer Lieutenant with a fully loaded AK-47 assault rifle walked into the mess and unloaded his magazine,” Reese said.

There were seven United State Marines Corps members killed altogether. Palmer was shot five times.

Reese said Palmer’s funeral was one of the worst days, but proudest moments of his life.

“Even though Ben was gone, I knew a part of him would go on forever because of days like this,” Reese said.

Reese said he didn’t end his military career because he was afraid. It was ended because a second-star general said at a ramp ceremony for a staff sargeant they didn’t know what they were doing there.

At the time, he wanted an explanation from the Obama administration why they were in Afghanistan.

“I would go back in right now,” Reese said.

One of the reasons he would go is to keep people from going.

At 25 Reese was made a staff non-commissioned officer as a staff sergeant. As part of his time with the Marines Corps he was with the unmanned aerial vehicle squadron II. They were  responsible for putting planes in the sky that looked down on the enemy.

Eight taliban members were sent to their death one day when he was in command because it meant he was saving the lives of thousands of marines and sailors.

“I’m not happy with the decision I’ve made but I’m glad I made it,” Reese said.