Ceremony honors state's service members killed, their families
Groton — The names of a Connecticut native killed in a recent Navy accident in the Pacific, and a Mystic sailor who died in a car crash in Rhode Island were among those read aloud Thursday at a ceremony honoring fallen service members and their families.
Petty Officer 2nd Class Dustin Doyon, 26, of Suffield was one of 10 sailors killed last month when the USS John S. McCain and an oil tanker collided in Southeast Asia. Five sailors were injured in the collision.
Thursday's remembrance ceremony, hosted by the Naval Submarine Base, coincided with similar events at Navy installations nationwide that were attended by so-called Gold Star families, who have lost family members serving on active duty in the armed forces.
Locally, atop the Historic Ship Nautilus on a breezy afternoon, Capt. Paul Whitescarver, commanding officer of the Naval Submarine Base, read off the names of 12 deceased service members from Connecticut, including Mystic native and Petty Officer 1st Class Elizabeth Kingsland, who died in a car crash on Interstate 95 North near Hopkinton, R.I., last month at the age of 31. The families wrote the names of their loved ones on index cards to be read aloud.
Kingsland was assigned to Fort Gordon in Augusta, Ga., where she worked for the National Security Agency as a linguist and cryptographer. The sensitive nature of her work meant she could say very little about what she did to family and friends.
In an interview with The Day shortly after her death, Kingsland's parents, Barbara and Stephen, described their daughter as strong-willed and stubborn with a lively personality and an active imagination. She was fiercely loyal, they said. Kingsland was involved for many years with the Chorus of Westerly and its summer camp in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, her favorite place in the world, her parents said.
The Kingslands, who attended Thursday's ceremony, wore a next-of-kin lapel button, a square pin with a gold background and gold star signifying a service member who died on active duty outside of combat, Whitescarver explained during his remarks.
The family of Navy Special Warfare Operator Master Chief Petty Officer Brian R. Bill also were in attendance Thursday.
Bill, of Stamford, died on Aug. 6, 2011, in Wardak province, Afghanistan, when a rocket-propelled grenade struck the CH-47 Chinook helicopter in which he, 29 other Americans, and eight Afghans were embarked. He was killed weeks before his 32nd birthday.
The Navy and sub base understand the "service, sacrifice and challenges faced by our military members and families," Whitescarver said. "And we continue to do what we can to honor and make a difference for our Gold Star Families."
Tuesday's ceremony, the second inaugural Gold Star remembrance ceremony, is one small way to honor those families, Whitescarver added.
National Gold Star Mother's and Family's Day is observed annually on the last Sunday in September.