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Wreath Laying Commemorates Fallen Airmen

  • Published
  • By SMSgt Ken Johnson
  • 117th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

A ceremony was held at Forest Hill Cemetery on April 18 by the 117th Air Refueling Wing to commemorate the Bay of Pigs mission that took the lives of four Alabama Airmen.

During the ceremony Maj. Jason Carr, a pilot from the 106th Operations Squadron, placed a wreath at the gravesite of Thomas “Pete” Ray.


Ray, a former member of the Alabama Air National Guard along with three others, Riley Shamburger, Wade Gray and Leo Baker were shot down and killed in action on April 19, 1961. The secret mission was led by the CIA to overthrow Fidel Castro during the Bay of Pigs invasion over Cuba.

The ceremony began with a prayer by Chaplain John Russell from the 117th Air Refueling Wing. It was followed by the posting of colors by the high school ROTC programs from Homewood, Midfield and Thompson. The ceremony concluded with a three volley salute and the playing of TAPS by the 117  ARW Honor Guard.

In attendance were former Alabama Air National Guard members who played a support role in the invasion along with their families, friends and current members of the Alabama Air National Guard.

A ceremony was held at the Southern Museum of Flight following the graveside commemoration. Col. Scott Grant, 117 ARW Commander spoke briefly about the history of the Bay of Pigs invasion and the role of the Alabama Air National Guard.