By Philip Jankowski

Killeen Daily Herald

About 100 veterans and their families observed a moment of silence Saturday morning at the Central Texas State Veterans Cemetery for their fallen comrades during the nationwide event Wreaths Across America.

Central Texas State Veterans Cemetery was one of more than 550 veterans cemeteries to participate in the event, which began as a informal gathering sponsored by a wreath company at Arlington National Cemetery to display a wreath at the tombstones of veterans.

All ceremonies observed a minute of silence in honor of fallen veterans in unison at 11 a.m. CST.

"All the people resting in the cemetery are among us participating in this ceremony," said retired Command Sgt. Maj. Joe Gainey, who served with III Corps at Fort Hood, a guest speaker at the event.

Soldiers and veterans laid wreaths in honor of all of the branches of the armed forces, including the Merchant Marines and Coast Guard, as well as a wreath for POW/MIA.

Representing the U.S. Marine Corps was a veteran of the battle of Iwo Jima, Keifer Marshall Jr. Marshall was one of three survivors from his company of 250 during an intense 45-day battle to take the island that has since been immortalized as one of the bloodiest conflicts in the Pacific theater of World War II.

"It was an honor," Marshall said of representing his company and the Marines.

Funds raised purchased 10 boxes of wreaths that were given to attendees wishing to place a wreath at the grave site of a loved one at the cemetery. Wreaths adorned hundreds of tombstones.

Montoya Warren and her father, Donald Warren, placed a wreath as representatives of W.R. Hold Chapter 147 of the Disabled American Veterans, which also hosted the event.

Warren said the ceremony served a good purpose. "It gives honor where honor is due. It was wonderful," she said.

Members of the 1st Cavalry Division Band played the songs of each military branch. At the end of the ceremony, soldiers gave a 21-gun salute and taps was played.

DAV Commander Theron Johnson said he wished the soldiers well in their future deployments.

"You do an outstanding job representing our country and we're proud of you," Johnson said.

Contact Philip Jankowski at or (254) 501-7553.

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