The Blue Blasters of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 34 paid tribute to fallen service members on March 23.
Names of fallen service members were painted on the Blue Blasters’ F/A-18C Hornets. The project began last February 28, through the initiative of Lt. Dustin Wood, who came up with the idea after learning about the death of a high school friend as well as the severe wounding of a college roommate.
Wood solicited names of friends and family members who lost their lives during Operation Enduring Freedom, from fellow Blue Blasters as well as Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 9 personnel, in an effort to create a memorial that will serve as a constant reminder of the sacrifices made by the fallen.
Wood shared: “The day-to-day rigor of life on the carrier makes it easy for all of us to lose focus on our primary mission, supporting ground forces in Afghanistan… By replacing pilot names with those of service members killed in action (KIA), the Blue Blasters hope to provide some perspective on this vital mission and pay respect to those who have made the ultimate sacrifice. The KIA names serve as a symbol of the pride, selflessness and teamwork that is prevalent throughout our strike group.”
Intelligence Specialist 2nd Class Nathan Moore, who sponsored close family friend, on the other hand, shared: “It’s easy to get bogged down about your own trivial things with living on the ship, and this is a great opportunity to drive home what we are doing out here. It prevents us from being detached by being on the ship while they are on land… It means a lot to the members who get to sponsor the name of a loved one on a jet.”