By Maj. George Tobias
U.S. Air Force Expeditionary Center
Public Affairs / Published April 29, 2019
JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, N.J. — Service members, civilians, and family members from Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst gathered at the Air Advisor memorial, April 27, to honor the memories of the 11 Air Advisors who have fallen in the line of duty.
The Air Advisor community started the remembrance ceremony, hosted by the Air Advisor Memorial Foundation, after nine of their own were lost in Afghanistan on April 27, 2011.
“The objective of this ceremony is to raise awareness for those Air Advisors who were killed while serving our nation honorably, to rejuvenate their memories, and keep their spirits alive, and to aid in the healing process for their family and friends,” said U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Peter Gonzalez, 818th Mobility Support Advisory Squadron, who is the Secretary of the Air Advisor Memorial Foundation.
U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. John Gordy, U.S. Air Force Expeditionary Center commander, spoke at the ceremony and noted that everyone gathered at the memorial were there to honor those fallen Advisors as the heroes they are.
The memorial, located at the home of the Air Advisor Academy, Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J., was completed in July 2012. It was built by the first commandant of the Air Advisor Academy, U.S. Air Force Col. John Holm, in concert with the local community, to serve as tribute to the air advisors lost in Afghanistan and all Air Advisors who have made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.
“This memorial was built after the tragic event in 2011, when nine Air Advisors were killed in Kabul, supporting the Afghan Air Corps,” said Gordy. “This memorial will always honor their sacrifice, remember their names, and reminds us of the danger that we face accomplishing the mission.”
Since the original nine Air Advisors were killed in an insider shooter incident in Kabul, Afghanistan, two additional Air Advisors where lost in October 2015 in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan.
Within the U.S. military and the Department of Defense, Air Advisors have an important role; not only do they serve a military function to make coordination and cooperation more effective, but they also serve a diplomatic role, to stabilize relations, build trust and confidence, as well as project America’s strength.
“It is important that we take this opportunity to highlight the critical work that Air Advisors have done to protect our country, and the untold lives they have saved,” said Gordy.
Air Advisors, who come from every career field across all U.S. Air Force major commands, receive unique training from the U.S. Air Force Expeditionary Center’s Expeditionary Operations School to be the forward element providing training, advice, and equipment to partner nation militaries.
Throughout the year, the memorial hosts a stream of visitors who pay their respects and honor the fallen Advisors, and the lessons learned from the events that inspired the creation of the memorial have been incorporated into the U.S. Air Forces Expeditionary Operations School’s training syllabus.
Current and former Air Advisors identify Joint Base McGuire-Dix Lakehurst as the home of the U.S. Air Force Air Advisor because it is the one place where they all train. Since Air Advisors come from every career field and every major command in the Air Force, the memorial at the Air Advisor Academy provides a single place to honor their fallen together.