Those who have fallen fighting for our country were honored on Friday (9/6/13). The Air Force Academy hosted the annual Homecoming Memorial Ceremony.
108 cadets and graduates of the Air Force Academy have died since last year’s ceremony. James Gonzales graduated in 1969.
"I dated him while he was here. So there are a lot of memories,” said his wife Julie Gonzales.
He passed last September.
"A lot of wonderful memories to be on the grounds at this occasion. I miss him very much," she said.
Gonzales loved the Air Force so much he wrote a book about his time there. Coming back for Julie was a bit of mixed feelings.
"Difficult and yet very proud. Very proud,” she said.
Romel Mathias' son Lucas Gruenther lost his life much sooner.
"Seeing them is just awesome to be here,” she said about the cadets.
Gruenther was only 31.
"This is his daughter Serene. He died 10 days before she was born. So he never got to hold her,” said his widow Cassy Gruenther. "But it's cool to bring her back and show her where he went to college."
A wreath sat in front of the air force academy memorial. The names of every graduate who died in battle are inscribed on a wall for all to see.
"It's a very emotional experience, but he'll always be here,” said Gruenther’s grandmother pointing to her heart.
New names will be added to the wall of the memorial from Friday's service.