Veterans from the 101st Airborne Division Nigel Benchoff (right) and Jack Branson place flags at the headstones of deceased service men and women at Fort Sam National Cemetery.
Veterans from the 101st Airborne Division Nigel Benchoff (right) and Jack Branson place flags at the headstones of deceased service members at Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery. Credit: Scott Ball / San Antonio Report

Before retired Maj. Gen. Juan Ayala became the director of the City of San Antonio’s Office of Military Affairs, the former inspector general of the Marine Corps traveled the world on numerous deployments.

Ahead of this year’s long weekend for Memorial Day, he recalled a night in March 2004 at the Al Asad Airbase in western Iraq, describing the sound of “screaming” mortars rocketing toward the base from above. One of those rockets struck and killed Marine Corps Cpl. Andrew David Brownfield, the first young man to die under Ayala’s command.

“You never forget these things,” Ayala said. “We should never forget those gone wearing the cloth of this nation.”

Officially designated as Military City USA since June 2017, San Antonio will host a number of Memorial Day ceremonies and celebrations over the long weekend, whereby U.S. military members who died serving their country are honored for their sacrifice.

American Flags are bundled in a large box at Fort Sam National Cemetery.
American flags are bundled in a large box at Fort Sam National Cemetery. Credit: Scott Ball / San Antonio Report

VFW Post 76

Memorial Day ceremonies at VFW Post 76, the oldest military post in Texas that’s situated along the San Antonio River, begin Saturday, May 26, at 6:30 p.m. Cris Vieyra Jr., commander of VFW Post 8397, said that a recital of the Pledge of Allegiance, an acknowledgment of the military branches, and a 21-gun salute will precede an evening barbecue filled with music and dancing. Members of the public are welcome, and encouraged, to attend.

Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery

Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery invites the public to participate in a Memorial Day program on Monday, May 28. The program will begin with music at 9 a.m., followed by the formal ceremony at 9:30 a.m in the assembly area. After a flag presentation, singing of the national anthem, and prayers, retired U.S. Army Col. Sylvia Sanchez will deliver this year’s keynote speech.

Volunteers spent Friday placing miniature flags on the grave sites of each of the soldiers buried at the cemetery. In addition to the Monday ceremony, a reading of the names of all the soldiers who have been buried at Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery since last year’s Memorial Day will take place Saturday, May 26, beginning at 8 a.m at Shelter 3. A mass will be held on the grounds Sunday, May 27, at 3 p.m. in the assembly area.

San Antonio Symphony’s Patriotic Pops

Following its Friday performance, the San Antonio Symphony will perform Patriotic Pops Saturday, May 26 at 8 p.m. at the Tobin Center for the Performing Arts. The performance will be conducted by Michael Krajewski and narrated by Councilman Roberto Treviño (D1). For ticket information, click here.

Jeffrey Sullivan

Jeffrey Sullivan is a Rivard Report reporter. He graduated from Trinity University with a degree in Political Science.