Pantex celebrates Armed Forces Day
Alonzo Everhart, former Quartermaster First Class in the U.S. Navy, addressed an auditorium full of Pantex’s workforce Wednesday morning at a celebration recognizing the U.S. Armed Forces.
“Today we take time to thank our servicemen and women for preserving our freedom,” he said during the annual Armed Forces Day Celebration. “We thank them for their service, their sacrifice, and their commitment, while remembering that they need us to stand with them, and their families, while they are standing guard for us. We must continue to do our best for them, as they give their all for freedom.”
About 250 people attended the celebration at the John C. Drummond Center’s auditorium. The event was an opportunity for Pantex employees, veterans, and active duty military to show appreciation to those who have served and are still serving and remember fallen warriors.
Everhart is the senior director of Pantex Weapons Operations for Consolidated Nuclear Security, which operates the Pantex Plant and the Y-12 nuclear facility in Tennessee. He shared his story of growing up and serving in the Navy, and also spoke on his continued service to the country in his role at Pantex.
“I can imagine no more rewarding career,” he said. “And if asked what I did in my lifetime to make my life worthwhile, I will respond with a great deal of pride and satisfaction and say that I served in the United States Navy and continue to serve this great country while working at the Pantex plant.”
Bill Eckroade, the Deputy Field Office Manager in the NNSA Production Office at the Pantex Plant, shared his insights on initiatives being undertaken by the Department of Energy to support injured service members, specifically research on traumatic brain injuries utilizing the super computing systems within the DOE’s national laboratories.
Eckroade continued by sharing about the Purple Heart Trail that runs along I-40 across the U.S. from South Carolina to California. The stretch across the Texas Panhandle was the last section of the national trail to be designated.
“When the Purple Heart Trail on I-40 across the Texas Panhandle was designated, it completed the last link in a coast-to-coast national Purple Heart Trail,” he said. “Just as all roads lead to Pantex, all segments of I-40’s Purple Heart Trail led to this final stretch of highway – a stretch of highway that passes right by Pantex and the heart of our nation’s nuclear security infrastructure.”
Pantex Site Manager Todd Ailes shared that 20 to 25 percent of the Pantex’s workforce is made up of veterans and active duty military.
“Our work at Pantex is vital to national security and to our Armed Forces because our mission is to sustain a safe, secure, effective nuclear deterrent,” Ailes said. “As Pantexans, we have always taken great pride in meeting the needs of our Nation and we will forever play a part in carrying out the nuclear weapons mission.”
Wednesday’s celebration also included a tribute to prisoners of war and soldiers missing in action.
A simple, single table, known as the fallen soldier ceremony, was set up on the right side of the stage and Tori Hofeldt, former second class petty officer in the U.S. Navy, shared the symbolism behind each item on the table.
“This table, set for one, is small; symbolizing the frailty of one prisoner alone against oppressors,” she said. “The chair is empty. They are not here. We need to remember all who served with them and called them comrades. Until the day they come home: Remember.”
For more images of the celebration, please visit the Pantex Facebook site.