A Moving Tribute

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American Legion Northampton Post 56 members Merchelle Enright, Past Post Commander Glenn Purvis, Second Vice Commander Dave Krough, and Bill Lewis, turn out the colors Feb. 11, 2020, at the corner of Cherrystone Road and U.S. Route 13 in honor of a fallen hero, Lt. Col. Paul K Voss. Photo Courtesy of Barron Downing, Cheriton Volunteer Fire Department.

By Connie Morrison
It was a dreary day, several people in the office announced. It was pouring rain and we guessed it already surpassed the forecast 1/2 to 1 inch of rain.

Advertising Manager Troy Justis, himself a first responder, asked if we had heard about the service member killed in action whose remains would be transported down U.S. Route 13 Tuesday, escorted by various law enforcement agencies. Carol Vaughn took note of the time so she could make photos for the paper.

Along the route, first responders and veterans turned out to honor the fallen serviceman. Facebook pages filled with tribute images from New Church to the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel.

The remains of Air Force Lt. Col. Paul K. Voss were transported from Dover Air Force Base to Hampton Roads on Tuesday, Feb. 11, escorted down the Delmarva Peninsula by law enforcement vehicles from Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia.
Fire and EMS units paid their respects as the procession passed by several locations on the Eastern Shore, including near Four Corner Plaza in Onley. Voss and Capt. Rylan S. Phaneuf, 30, of New Hampshire, were killed Jan. 27 in the crash of their E-11A battlefield communications aircraft in Ghazni province, Afghanistan. Voss, 46, of Guam, was assigned to Air Combat Command headquarters at Joint Base Langley-Eustis. Phaneuf was assigned to the 37th Bomb Squadron at Ellsworth Air Force Base in South Dakota. Photo by Carol Vaughn.

The caravan escorting the remains of Lt. Col. Paul K. Voss approached Four Corner Plaza around 11:10 a.m. en route from Dover Air Force Base to Hampton Roads. The flashing blue and red lights of various law enforcement vehicles escorted the hearse as it drove under the American flag hanging from the Onancock Fire Company’s ladder truck extended high over Route 13 near the Market Street intersection.

It made your heart break, not just for Voss, but for all the others we didn’t see, didn’t know, who left to serve their country and whose bodies were returned to their families in a similar manner.

I’ve heard it said, “If you don’t have family in the military, you can’t understand.” I don’t have military family members, but today, through those who formed the informal honor guard, I glimpsed a brotherhood united in respect, duty, and loss.

Who better to entrust the honor and dignity of this airman’s final passage than this fellowship? And of course, they turned out. Their quiet reverence reflected their own humble service to community and country.

The tribute that really struck a chord for me was the photo of American Legion members from Post 56 in Cheriton standing silently and reverently, drenched in rain, holding the U.S. and the American Legion flags.

We salute Lt. Col. Paul K. Voss and honor his service to our country.

Thank you, too, to all our enlisted men and women, veterans, and first responders for answering the call to serve.