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Honoring our veterans

Sandia hosts Veterans Day celebrations in NM and CA

Image of Veterans Day 2022 celebration in New Mexico
CELEBRATING VETERANS — Sandia hosted Veterans Day celebrations in California and New Mexico last week. Keynote speakers included Maj. Gen. John Newberry, commander of the Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center, and Gen. Kevin Chilton, who served more than 34 years in the Air Force and 11 years as a NASA astronaut. (Photo by Craig Fritz)

Labs leadership expressed gratitude to veterans who work at Sandia during annual Veterans Day celebrations last week in New Mexico and California. Sandia’s Military Support Committee organized both events, which were held in person and virtually.

In New Mexico, the ceremony was held on Tuesday, Nov. 9. The event began with a welcome from Mark Murton, chair of the Military Support Committee. He introduced Brian Carter, executive director of human resources and communications and executive champion of the Military Support Committee, who thanked Sandia’s veterans for the contributions they make at the Labs. About 1,500 veterans work at Sandia.

The Kirtland Air Force Base Honor Guard presented the colors as the Sandia Singers, a volunteer choral group, sang “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

Labs Director James Peery introduced keynote speaker Maj. Gen. John Newberry, commander of the Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center and Air Force program executive officer for strategic systems at Kirtland Air Force Base.

“I will share with you a culture that we share within this center that I call nuclear ethos,” Newberry said. “This ethos represents a belief by all of us who are part of this great nuclear enterprise that what we do is critical to our nation. We bring success to the nuclear capability, and our nation depends on it for survival.”

Image of University of California, Berkeley honor guard presents the colors at Sandia Veterans Day celebration
CELEBRATING VETERANS — At the beginning of the celebration in California, the University of California, Berkeley honor guard presented the colors. (Photo by Spencer Toy)

Newberry discussed the significance of Veterans Day, which marks the anniversary of the armistice that ended World War I in 1918. He shared the history and military beginnings of Sandia and Los Alamos national laboratories. He commended the workforce for working alongside the DOD to defend the nation.

“We use nuclear weapons every day to deter our adversaries,” he said. “Trust me, our adversaries say ‘not today’ when they’re thinking about doing something against the U.S. because of nuclear weapons.”

Veterans in attendance were asked to stand and be recognized for the wars during which they served, as well as asked to stand while anthem of their U.S. military branch was played. At the end of the ceremony, each veteran was recognized for their service by receiving a commemorative challenge coin.

The ceremony in California was held on Thursday, Nov. 10. It began with Chair of the Military Support Committee David Colón celebrating the establishment of the Marine Corps on that day 247 years ago. He introduced Brian, who announced that for the second year in a row, the U.S. Department of Labor awarded Sandia with the platinum HIRE Vets Medallion Award — the only federal-level award that recognizes a company or organization’s commitment to veteran hiring, retention and professional development.

Image of Maj. Gen. John Newberry, right, honors Sandia technologist Scott Waddle with challenge coin
EXCEPTIONAL SERVICE — Maj. Gen. John Newberry, commander of the Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center, right, honors Sandia technologist and Air Force veteran Scott Waddle with a challenge coin at the Veterans Day celebration on Nov. 7 in New Mexico. (Photo by Craig Fritz)

The University of California, Berkeley ROTC cadets performed the presentation of the colors as the national anthem was sung by Sandia’s volunteer choir, the Thundertones.

James introduced keynote speaker Gen. Kevin Chilton, who served more than 34 years in the Air Force and 11 years as a NASA astronaut and presented him with a plaque in appreciation for his service to the nation.

Chilton recognized the veterans in attendance and thanked everyone involved in honoring their service. He explained that we celebrate Veterans Day because we are grateful for the men and women who serve our country and that their service includes the support of family, community and Sandians.

“You don’t just work at Sandia,” he said. “You are serving the nation. The work you do on nuclear deterrence at Sandia underpins all of our armed forces. Without you, we couldn’t be as free as we are today.”

Image of Challenge coins at the Veterans Day 2022 celebration in California
CHALLENGE COINS – Veterans in attendance each received a commemorative challenge coin. (Photo by Spencer Toy)

Tim Shepodd, senior manager for Mission Engineering Sciences, thanked the veterans and active-duty members present. 

“Veterans at Sandia are not only part of our rich history, but they are making history by supporting Sandia’s goal of Exceptional Service in the National Interest,” he said.

The ceremony concluded with each veteran receiving a commemorative challenge coin as a token of appreciation for their dedication to the country.

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