HURLBURT FIELD, Fla. --
Leadership with Headquarters Air Force Special Operations Command, 1st Special Operations Wing and 24th SOW, carried on a holiday tradition by placing red, white and blue stars to honor 365 fallen Airmen, Dec. 4, 2020.
The Honor Trees were created by AFSOC’s Preservation of the Force and Family as a way to remember and honor fallen Air Commandos since the command was established in 1990, with each star carrying the name and date of an AFSOC Airman.
“We will always remember them,” said Jayne Warner, the spiritual community program peer network coordinator with AFSOC POTFF. “We are thankful for them and their service, and for what they did for our country – for AFSOC.”
A four-foot tree with 48 gold stars represents the Airmen who lost their lives in combat. A 7 1/2 foot tree bears 254 red and white stars for active duty Airmen, as well as 63 blue stars for civilians who died while working in an AFSOC position.
“This is a time-honored tradition to honor our 365 Air Commandos that are represented on these trees,” said U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Eric Hill, deputy commander of AFSOC. “We do this every year, as a way to remind ourselves and let the families know, that we have not forgotten our fallen.”
This year, no additional gold stars were hung, but 15 more red, white and blue stars were added by leadership.
The first six stars were placed on the tree by U.S. Air Force Col. Timothy Hood, vice commander of the 1st Special Operations Wing, and U.S. Air Force Chief Master Sgt. John Lang, superintendent of the 1st Special Operations Maintenance Group.
Hill followed and honored six Airmen by hanging six stars on the tree, representing four Airmen with the 27th Special Operations Wing, Cannon Air Force Base, New Mexico; one Airman with the 919th Special Operations Wing, Duke Field, Florida; and one Airman with HQ AFSOC.
Finally, U.S. Air Force Col. Matthew Allen, commander of the 24th Special Operations Wing, and U.S. Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Christopher Grove, command chief of the 24th SOW, added the last three stars.
Both Honor Trees can be seen by visitors to the headquarters building.
“It’s a reminder to all of us, during the holidays, how much we have to be thankful for,” said Hill. “We are grateful for these Air Commandos and their families who served our nation.”
The 15 Airmen who lost their lives in 2020, are:
Senior Master Sergeant Rick DeMorgan
Airman 1st Class Victor Berastain
Technical Sergeant. Phillip Vos
Senior Airman Edwin Royer
Airman 1st Class Conor Poole
Senior Airman Canaan Johnson
Mr. Matthew Unsicker
Airman 1st Class Keigan Baker
Staff Sergeant Samuel Marti
Ms. Roswitha Cantanzaro
Senior Airman Matthew Miller
Ms. Nancy Gilestra
Senior Airman David Saldana
Technical Sergeant Brian Stephens
Lieutenant Colonel Hunter Letchman