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Amarillo Gold Star family members speak about their lost loved ones in combat

Memorial Day Ceremony outside the Texas Panhandle War Memorial Center.
Updated: May. 31, 2021 at 9:32 PM CDT
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AMARILLO, Texas (KFDA) - Dozens of Gold Star family members were part of around 400 people who attended the Memorial Day Ceremony outside the Texas Panhandle War Memorial Center.

“Gold Star families are those who lost someone in combat and that’s what the meaning of a Gold Star family, a gold star mother, a gold star wife, a gold star father, they lost a relative in the service of this great nation,” said Joey Avey, commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1475 in Amarillo and board member at Texas Panhandle War Memorial Center.

We had the opportunity to speak with Barbra Tate, the mother of Darren Tate who died in Afghanistan on July 8, 2009 at 21-years-old.

Her husband was a U.S. Navy vet and passed away in 2018.

Her father was in the Korean conflict, also in the U.S. Navy.

She shared how important this day is to her.

“So, this day means a lot to me. I have a lot of memories and my son was precious and I miss him dearly and I’m so happy to see that people are honoring the men that gave their lives to our country. God Bless America,” said Barbra Tate, Gold Star family member, mother of Darren Tate.

Thomas E. Creek from Amarillo died serving our country at 18 years of age and is the youngest soldier in Texas history to receive the Medal of Honor.

Today his brother laid out some of his awards and pictures to pay tribute.

“I’m glad to be invited to show the medal and show people the pictures of my brothers, my two brothers who died. This is Thomas and this is Roy, he died of Agent Orange and this is me. We were all three Marines there in the Vietnam conflict. So, I’m proud of them,” said Ross Creek, Gold Star family member, brother of Thomas E. Creek.

The VA Medical Center in Amarillo is named after Creek.

“The last time I saw him was with Ross in the summer of 68′ on Amarillo Boulevard, and that’s when I learned that Tom was going to Vietnam and I ask him, Tom why the Marines? That was my thought at the time. He gave his reasons. but he ended with ‘keep America free,’” said Eddie Larkan, friend of Thomas E. Creek.

“Anytime that we can celebrate veterans, it’s a great day because without veterans, we wouldn’t have a country,” said Creek.

U.S. congressman and Navy Vet, Ronny Jackson was the keynote speaker.

He shared his thoughts about why this day is so important.

“I think it’s important that we come here on Memorial Day and we let the families know that we haven’t forgotten the sacrifice that their families made. We let them know that we appreciate their sacrifice, their daily sacrifice because every day they walk around their homes and they look at photos of people they never got to say bye to, they never came home, right? And it was because they sacrificed on our behalf so that we can enjoy the freedoms that we have here in this country. That’s super important and there are very few things that are more important than that, so I’m honored to be here today, I’m honored to be a part of this,” said Rep. Ronny Jackson, (R) 13th congressional district.

The ceremony featured music, military ceremonies and a flyover, all to honor our fallen service members.

“Memorial Day is really like what Admiral Jackson said earlier, it’s to recognize those who didn’t get to come home and just like the song says, all gave some, some gave all, and today is for those who gave all,” said Avey.

Some groups represented at the ceremony include Troop 89 Boy Scout Troops, Randall County Commissioners, the Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association, the Civil Air Patrol, and the Amarillo VWF.

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