The C-17 memorial includes pictures of the four killed airmen: Majs. Michael Freyholtz and Aaron Malone, Capt. Jeffrey Hill and Master Sgt. Thomas Cicardo. Freyholtz, Malone and Cicardo were assigned to the Alaska Air National Guard's 249th Airlift Squadron, while Hill was a member of Elmendorf's 517th Airlift Squadron.
"We've discussed this with all the families, and not only were the families OK with us doing the air show, they were -- no kidding -- very supportive in saying, ‘OK, you have to do this air show.' These four individuals were airmen, they lived and dreamed and ate, thought about flying all the time,'" said Col. Jack McMullen, commander of the 3rd Wing to which the lost C-17 was assigned.
Tokens of appreciation and support were added to the memorial Saturday one by one, by people from all walks of life. Many who set down flowers have close ties to those who serve.
"I hope that this is something that people remember, and they will keep the families and their lost loved ones in their hearts," Fitzgerald said.
The military says the memorial is a way to show families of the crew that the entire community stands together to honor the four fallen heroes, whether you're a citizen, a veteran or in uniform.
"We can't make it go away," said Brig. Gen. Chuck Foster, commander of the Air National Guard's 176th Wing. "We're going to do everything we can to make it easier for the families to bear this burden that they didn't earn."
The military encourages Arctic Thunder visitors to drop off flowers at the C-17 memorial. Accounts have also been set up at Alaska USA Federal Credit Union for the families of the four crew members.
An Air National Guard memorial ceremony for the lost crewmen will be held at 3 p.m. in Elmendorf's Hangar 20. It is open to all base personnel.
Arctic Thunder continues Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. It is free and open to the public.
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