American Veterans Traveling Tribute opens in Clovis

By Gabriel Monte, Freedom New Mexico

The haunting notes of “Amazing Graze” groaned out of a bagpipe as Capt. Mae-li Allison of the 27th special Operations Wing at Cannon Air Force Base read the names of more than 40 soldiers from New Mexico who died in Iraq.

Moments before, 27th SOW Wing Commander Col. Tim Leahy spoke to a crowd of about 100 people about the importance of remembering the men and women who died while serving their country.

“Liberty is not free, freedom does not come without sacrifice, and sacrifice should not be taken for granted,” he said.

Leahy spoke during a midday ceremony for the traveling memorial, which arrived in Clovis on Thursday and will stay until Tuesday.

Eddy and Teresa Gomez of Clovis strolled through the displays trying to find the names of friends who had died in the Vietnam War.

When Teresa Gomez found the name of Daniel Martinez, a family friend, she etched his name on a piece of paper.

She was also looking for Martinez’ cousin, who died a year later.

“They were both 21 (when they died),” she said.

A veteran of the Vietnam War, Eddy Gomez searched the wall for his two friends.

Eddy said he joined the Air Force when he was drafted, while his two friends enlisted in other branches.