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Local Civil Air Patrol cadets lay wreaths to honor fallen veterans

The graves of veterans were adorned for the Christmas holiday on Saturday as part of a community service project done by some of Colleton’s Civil Air Cadets.
More than two dozen local cadets in the ACE Basin Composite Squadron of the Civil Air Patrol worked with the Wreaths Across America project to honor veterans by laying wreaths onto their tombstones.
This occurred on Saturday at the Beaufort National Cemetery in Beaufort. The day began with about 10 volunteers unloaded approximately 21,000 wreaths from four massive 18-wheelers. The wreaths were then dispersed to a slew of volunteers, who worked all day to lay the wreaths onto the graves of veterans.
The boxes were then properly broken down and sent to be recycled.
In all, more than 21,000 graves were adorned with holiday wreaths.
Each wreath was purchased by people all over the country who bought them. Buyers could specifically buy a wreath for a certain National Cemetery, like in Beaufort, or they could purchase a generic wreath to go to any national cemetery in the United States.
In addition to the public’s support, Civil Air Patrol cadets nationwide worked on this project, as did the Knights of Columbus, the Boy Scouts of America, the Patriot Riders, and the Veterans of Foreign Wars.
“The organizers said there were literally thousands of people in attendance on Saturday, and hundreds of kids were there from all over the area. I met people from all over South Carolina and all over Georgia, working together to honor our veterans,” said First Lt. Rachael J. Mercer, spokeswoman for the area’s Civil Air Patrol.
“It gives me chills. It is one of the most profound things we do all year long, as far as service. It gives our cadets a perspective on life and on honoring those served,” she said.
In 2018, approximately 1.8 million wreaths were placed onto the headstones of veterans in 1,640 cemeteries across the nation, according to the Wreaths Across America non-profit organization.
The ACE Basin Squadron has been working on this project for several months, as part of a nationwide effort.
Now that it is complete, the local ACE Basin Squadron will now celebrate the holiday season amongst themselves with a Christmas party. Then, in the first quarter of 2020, the cadets will begin focusing on their new community outreach projects.
“We hope to wrap it up on a real stem-focused project, and we want to be a part of the Charleston STEM Festival and work with local Colleton County schools,” she said.
Mercer said the local cadets would also see a rocket launch in Florida in 2020, as part of their STEM focus. The local squadron will also continue to recruit cadets.
As part of the U.S. Air Force, the Civil Air Patrol (CAP) cadets who comprise the ACE Basin Squadron learn about aerospace, science, and receive hands-on flight instruction and military training. The cadets also do community service as part of the U.S. Air Force, specifically in the aftermath of natural disasters, like hurricanes.
The next open recruitment to join the ACE Basin Composite Squadron will be held on Tuesday, March 31st, at 6 p.m. at the Lowcountry Regional Airport in Walterboro.
There are 25 cadets in the ACE Basin Composite Squadron, all of whom are from Colleton County.
“They (cadets) are either homeschooled or Colleton County High or from Colleton County Middle School,” she said.
For more information on the program, contact Mercer at 912-777-9394 or attend the March meeting, which is open to the public.

Heather Walters (1635 Posts)