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Naval Air Station Lemoore honors fallen service members at Bells Across America ceremony

By LAUREN WAGNER | The Hanford Sentinel | Published: September 28, 2019

NAS LEMOORE (Tribune News Service) — The deep sound of a bell toll rang out in honor of over 175 Navy sailors during NAS Lemoore’s annual Bells Across America ceremony Thursday morning.

The base recognized each military member who died in active duty this past year by reading each name aloud, then tolling a bell, signaling the end of their service.

“(This day) commemorates the contributions, commitment and sacrifices made by our golden comrades,” said Capt. James Bates, Commander, Strike Fighter Wing Pacific. “The names called represent just a few of the many who have given their lives for our great nation - forever loved, never forgotten.”

The ceremony is part of the national event, Bells Across America, which honors fallen service members each year at the end of September. Over 40 military bases and locations around the country recognize the event annually.

Bells Across America is hosted by the Navy Gold Star Program, which is a long-term survivor program focused on supporting families who have lost a loved one in active duty.

There were eight local service members who were honored during the ceremony, said Ombudsman Coordinator Heidi Green.

Among those that were honored was Lt. Charles Z. Walker, who died in July after his jet crashed near Death Valley.

Walker, assigned to the ‘Vigilantes’ of NAS Lemoore Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 151, was completing a routine training flight in an F/A-18E Super Hornet. His jet went down 60 miles from Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake.

Petty Officer Michael Doherty was also honored during the ceremony. Doherty died June 10 after he was struck by a car, according to California Highway Patrol.

Doherty was walking in the area of Jersey Avenue and 18th Avenue when he was hit and struck by a driver who was under the influence, officials said.

The event coincides with Gold Star Mother's and Family Day, which honors those who have lost a child in the military and fallen service members' families. The day is recognized on the last Sunday in September.

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