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Brothers-in-arms, brothers in sacrifice
Great Bend remembers the fallen
Great Bend Memorial Day 2024
Argonne Post Commander Boe Levingston and the Rev. William Johnson prepare to take a moment of silence at theconclusion of Monday's program at Bend Cemetery.

On the evening of Jan. 11, 2024, Navy SEALS Nathan Gage Ingram and Christopher J. Chambers were attempting to board an unflagged ship in the Arabian Sea, which was determined to have been illegally transporting advanced lethal aid from Iran to resupply Houithi forces in Yemen.

“As they were leaving their boat to climb aboard the contraband ship, waves reportedly widened the gap between the two vessels. Chambers was plunged into the water and Ingram jumped in to save him. They were never seen again,” recounted American Legion Post No. 180 Commander Boe Levingston Monday morning at the Argonne Post’s Memorial Day Service at the Veterans Circle in the Great Bend Cemetery.

“They were brothers-in-arms, but also brothers bonded by sacrifice,” Levingston noted in his keynote address, following presentation of memorials by posts from the American Legion, VFW, Disabled American Veterans, Sons of the American Revolution and the Boy and Girl Scouts of America.

Levingston noted that the dangers inherent with military service are especially so with Navy Special Warfare Operators. “But, they exist in every branch and in every military occupation. Today, we honor the more than one million men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice for our nation, while serving in wars and missions since the American Revolution.

“Each story is unique, and each story represents heartbreak to the family and friends left to mourn."

Levingston’s listing included 19-year-old Pvt. Furman L. Smith, who served with the Army’s 135th Infantry Regiment, 34th Infantry Division. Eighty years ago, his unit came under intense fire from German forces near Lanuvio, Italy. Severely outnumbered, Smith tended to seriously wounded comrades, even as others withdrew. Emptying clip after clip from his M-1 rifle, he killed at least 10 enemy soldiers before he was fatally shot. He was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.

Levingston also spoke of Lt. Col. Annie Ruth Graham, who served in the Army Nurse Corps during World War II, the Korean War and finally, Vietnam. She is one of eight women whose names are on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C.

“Many of the men rest in graves at Normandy American Cemetery. Others found peace at Arlington or in their hometown burial places. Many more survived the war and raised their families under the peace and freedom that they and their brothers and sisters-in-arms fought so hard to achieve,” Levingston said.

“In the American Legion Constitution, we pledge to preserve the memories and incidents of our associations in all wars. We do this, not to pat ourselves on the back or impress people with stories of our own military service. We know what we did. But we are also witnesses. Veterans have seen heroism in its purest form. Veterans that served alongside the very men and women that we remember today.

“We must always remember them,” Levingston concluded. “May they all rest in peace. Thank you for being here. God Bless America.”