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Airmen, Drosendahl stones memorialize TEC graduates' sacrifices

MCGHEE TYSON AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Tenn. - The I.G. Brown Training and Education Center Commander, Col. Tim Cathcart, left, and incoming commander, Col. Jessica Meyeraan, render their salutes during a ceremony that honored the TEC's Academy of Military Science and the Enlisted Professional Military Education graduates who died in service to the nation. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Kurt Skoglund/Released)

MCGHEE TYSON AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Tenn. - The I.G. Brown Training and Education Center Commander, Col. Tim Cathcart, left, and incoming commander, Col. Jessica Meyeraan, render their salutes during a ceremony that honored the TEC's Academy of Military Science and the Enlisted Professional Military Education graduates who died in service to the nation. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Kurt Skoglund/Released)

MCGHEE TYSON AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Tenn. - A memorial stone, located on the edge of the parade ground at the I.G. Brown Training and Education Center here, was dedicated by graduates of the Academy of Military Science in memory of Air Force 2nd Lt. Robert H. Drosendahl, a 1972 AMS graduate and a New Jersey Air National Guard officer. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Mike R. Smith/Released)

MCGHEE TYSON AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Tenn. - A memorial stone, located on the edge of the parade ground at the I.G. Brown Training and Education Center here, was dedicated by graduates of the Academy of Military Science in memory of Air Force 2nd Lt. Robert H. Drosendahl, a 1972 AMS graduate and a New Jersey Air National Guard officer. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Mike R. Smith/Released)

MCGHEE TYSON AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Tenn. - A memorial stone, located on the edge of the parade ground at the I.G. Brown Training and Education Center here, was dedicated by graduates of the Academy of Military Science in memory of Air Force 2nd Lt. Robert H. Drosendahl, a 1972 AMS graduate and a New Jersey Air National Guard officer.  Other TEC students included National Guard officers from Ohio, New Mexico, South Carolina, and Kansas who died in service to the nation. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Mike R. Smith/Released)

MCGHEE TYSON AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Tenn. - A memorial stone, located on the edge of the parade ground at the I.G. Brown Training and Education Center here, was dedicated by graduates of the Academy of Military Science in memory of Air Force 2nd Lt. Robert H. Drosendahl, a 1972 AMS graduate and a New Jersey Air National Guard officer. Other TEC students included National Guard officers from Ohio, New Mexico, South Carolina, and Kansas who died in service to the nation. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Mike R. Smith/Released)

MCGHEE TYSON AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Tenn. -- Airmen from the I.G. Brown Training and Education Center took a moment here May 21 to recognize the TEC's Academy of Military Science and the Enlisted Professional Military Education graduates who died in service to the nation.

They placed small American flags as well as red, white and blue annuals at the foot of the Drosendahl Memorial.

The TEC's Chaplain, Lt. Col. Ira Campbell, led a moment of silence and a prayer for those service members as well as for their families and friends who lost them.

Nineteen Airmen then stood at attention as the TEC's Commander, Col. Tim Cathcart, and incoming commander, Col. Jessica Meyeraan, rendered their salutes.

The TEC accommodates roughly 4,000 students on campus annually.

The Drosendahl Memorial honors 2nd Lt. Robert H. Drosendahl - a 1972 AMS graduate and a New Jersey Air National Guard member who flew the F-105B Thunderchief. Officials said that he ditched that aircraft into the Chesapeake Bay, March 3, 1974, during a training mission.

His body was never recovered, said officials.

"We thought [back then] it would be appropriate to do something," said Col. Edmund Morrisey, retired, the TEC's first commander who helped to build the memorial almost 40 years ago.

The memorial's two grey, granite stones - one with seven inscribed AMS graduate names and another that includes Drosendahl's young image - now rest below the campus hill, on the west edge of the parade ground.

Although Drosendahl's parents have died since, Morrisey said that he received a donation from them for student-morale and -welfare, every year.

"It went into a commander's fund that helped many-a-student who showed up for training with just three dollars in their pocket," said Morrisey.

"They were just tickled ... they felt: 'this is where he was.'"

Morrisey said that the names of other AMS graduates who died in service were added as space allowed, until a final statement, "... and those who follow," was inscribed.

There is no record on how many Airmen among the thousands of officers and enlisted leaders who graduated here since June 1968 died in service. TEC's staff hopes to research that information before the next Memorial Day.