George Whiteman Honored at 30th Annual Wreath Ceremony
Despite rain showers that developed during the solemn event, the 30th annual Whiteman Wreath-Laying Ceremony was held late Saturday morning at Memorial Park Cemetery in Sedalia.
"Today we are here to honor 2nd Lt. George Whiteman for his sacrifice that he gave for our country," explained Debra Andresen, Sedalia Area Chamber of Commerce administrative assistant.
Whiteman, a native of Pettis County, lost his life at the age of 22 during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in World War II on Dec. 7, 1941. Whiteman Air Force Base was renamed after him in 1955.
Lieutenant Whiteman was posthumously awarded the Silver Star, the Purple Heart, the American Defense Medal with a Foreign Service clasp, the American Campaign Medal, the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with one bronze star and the World War II Victory Medal.
In attendance every year are descendants and relatives of Whiteman. Each year, family members place a wreath at the grave of Whiteman in remembrance.
A planned flyover of three T-38s from Whiteman AFB had to be canceled due to the rain in the area.
Guest speaker for the ceremony was Debra's husband, US Air Force Veteran Richard Andresen.
In his remarks, Andresen praised Whiteman as a hero with integrity and courage, a true leader among men.
Serving as emcee was SSGT. Chris O'Connor with the 131st Bomb Wing.
Boy Scout Troop 61 posted the colors during the ceremony.
SSgt. Andresen later presented the folded flag that was flown over Whiteman's grave to Glenn Barry.
Smith-Cotton Senior Kirstin Weller sang the National Anthem, and Derrick Weller, a student at Missouri State University, played Taps.
Chamber President John Meehan provided the invocation.
VFW Post 2591 provided a 21-gun salute.
The ceremony was attended by several City of Sedalia and Pettis County representatives, as well as a members of Whiteman Air Force Base Special Forces.
The Military Affairs Committee of the Sedalia Area Chamber of Commerce sponsored the ceremony.