(BUSINESS WIRE)--As America prepares to remember its military servicemen and women on Veteran’s Day, the American Eagle Foundation (AEF) held a special ceremony at its national eagle center to honor eight fallen soldiers who lost their lives in Iraq. In memory of these heroes, each of their families was invited to name a breeding bald eagle cared for by the conservation group (http://www.eagles.org).
“The bald eagle is the living symbol of the freedoms these brave men gave their lives to protect,” said AEF Founder and President Al Cecere. “To honor them and their families is truly a privilege for our staff, especially since our nation will soon observe Veteran’s Day.”
During the event on Saturday, the AEF awarded special certificates and medals to each of the participating families. Also, signs bearing the names of the eight soldiers and the eagles named by their families were placed near the entrance of the bird housing/breeding enclosures as a permanent tribute.
The AEF recognized the following East Tennessee soldiers: Army National Guard Sgt. Alfred B. Siler (Duff, TN), Army National Guard Sgt. Joseph D. Hunt (Sweetwater, TN), National Guard Sgt. Paul W. Thomason III (Talbot, TN), Army Staff Sgt. Daniel Morris (Clinton,TN), National Guard Sgt. 1st Class Stephen Kennedy (Oak Ridge, TN), Army Sgt. 1st Class James D Connell (Lake City, TN), Marine Lance Cpl. William C. Koprince Jr. (Lenoir City, TN), and Marine Cpl. Rusty L. Washam (Huntsville, TN).
The eagle names selected by the families of the soldiers were: “Volunteer” (Joseph Hunt), “Hero” (Stephen Kennedy), “Honor” (William Koprince Jr.), “Brave Heart” (James Connell), “Faithful” (Rusty Washam), “Peace” (Alfred Siler), “Faithful Spirit” (Daniel Morris), and “Freedom” (Paul Thomason).
The families were also treated to a free-flight demonstration by and photo with the AEF’s trained celebrity bald eagle “Challenger” (http://www.eagles.org/aefsplash/).
The captive non-releasable breeding eagles that were named are housed at the AEF’s Dollywood-based headquarters in Pigeon Forge. The birds were given to the non-profit organization in June 2007 by the San Francisco Zoo.
“Future eaglets hatched by these majestic breeding eagles will be named and released into the wild in honor of other fallen soldiers,” said Cecere.
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