Kentucky Guard honors the fallen

Staff Report

Retired Master Sgt. Charles Barnes finds his son’s name on the Kentucky National Guard Memorial in Frankfort, Ky., May 29, 2017. Capt. Robert Barnes died in 1996 and is among the 255 names immortalized on the memorial. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. Brandy Mort)

FRANKFORT, Ky. — The Kentucky National Guard held their annual Memorial Day observance May 29 at the Kentucky National Guard Memorial located at the Boone National Guard Center in Frankfort.

Four names were added the memorial after confirmation of their military records. This brought the total names on the memorial to 255 men and women who have fallen in the line of duty since 1912.

Staff Sgt. Jonathan Roark was killed in a vehicle accident in 2015. His name was added to the memorial last year. This year several of his family members attended the ceremony to honor him.

“It means a lot to be here today.  I’m thankful that [Jonathan] is remembered,” said Roark’s mother, Loretta Roark. “I am thankful for every name that is on the monument and for every family that it represents.”

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Brig. Gen. Benjamin Adams III oversaw the ceremony, attended by a large crowd of family members and former Service members.

“Memorial Day is the time for Americans, as one body, to stand up and say, ‘You are not forgotten and we are grateful for you.’ Thank you for helping me remember our heroes on this day,” said Adams.

Amongst the crowd were retirees, a group of cadets from Kentucky’s Bluegrass Challenge Academy and Gold Star Families. Master Sgt. Retired Charles Barnes served in the Kentucky Guard for 40 years. He also lost a son whose name is on the memorial. Capt. Robert Barnes died in 1996 after a long battle with a service related illness.

“Having this here every year brings back old memories. It honors the fighting Soldiers that are not able to be with us anymore. It is an honor to be here with them today,” said Barnes.

The Guardsmen added this year:

Corporal Thomas Higdon, 22, of Kirk, Breckinridge County, was killed when he was struck by an Illinois Central train on April 7, 1917 near the Green River and Rockport in Ohio County. According to newspaper accounts he did not hear the fast approaching passenger train due to high winds at the time of the incident. Newspaper accounts say he was giving semaphore signals at the time of the accident.

Private First Class Joseph Raoul Losson, 19, Bardstown, Nelson County died while on federal active duty of pneumonia at 6:30 p.m. on April 18, 1917 in a military hospital in Louisville. Losson was a member of Company B, First Kentucky Infantry Regiment. Losson served with his unit on the Mexican border during the punitive expedition. After returning from border duty circa February 1917 his company was assigned guard duty at bridges in Kentucky. He contracted his illness one week prior to his death.

Private Edward F Orr, 26, of Butler, Pendleton County, died on June 1, 1917 when he was struck by a Southern Railway train while on guard duty near Hemp Ridge Station in the vicinity of Waddy in Shelby County. Orr enlisted in Company I, of the 1st Kentucky Infantry Regiment on August 18, 1916.

Major Mortimer Murray Benton, 37, of Lexington, Fayette County, was killed on August 16, 1943 in a vehicle accident during combat in Sicily. The vehicle he was riding in dropped off a bridge just blown by the retreating German forces. The Allies Sicily Campaign ended the next day. The German and Italian forces were completing an orderly withdrawal from Sicily to Italy using mines, demolitions and other obstacles to delay the allied forces advance.

Click here to read more biographies of our fallen.

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