Colonel speaks of sacrifice to IWA

Published 10:30 am Friday, November 10, 2017

Lt. Col. B. Patrick Lightsey, an Air Force intelligence officer stationed at Langley Air Force Base, spoke to Isle of Wight Academy students about sacrifice in military life during the school’s annual Veterans Day program, hosted by the school’s Student Council and Junior Student Council organizations.

The program in the campus’ Jester Gym at 9:30 a.m. began with the presentation of flags by local Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts and the IWA Concert Chorus performing “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

When it came time for Lightsey to speak, he told students of the history of Veterans Day, saying that up until after World War II, it had been known as Armistice Day, and had been intended to celebrate the end of World War I, which ended officially on Nov. 11, 1919. He also said that when he thinks of Veterans Day, he thinks of sacrifice.

Lightsey then said that the day carries a personal significance for him because on Nov. 10, 2004, Lt. Dan Malcolm — one of his best friends from college who had gone into the Marine Corps — was killed in action in Iraq.

“I have made it a pledge ever since to tell people of Lt. Dan Malcolm,” he said.

Lightsey also spoke of his career in the Air Force. Throughout his 15 years in the service, he has been deployed abroad a total of five times and has served in Iraq, Afghanistan and the southern Philippines.

“I come from a family of military members,” Lightsey said. “My dad was in the Air Force. My uncle was in the Navy. While I didn’t grow up in Virginia, I used to spend many summers here.

“Only one percent of society actually serves in the military, so this community is obviously a big supporter of our military. It might not sound like a lot, but if you include all veterans today, that number is actually 22 million.”

He added that military life is easier today than it had been for past generations thanks to advances in technology such as email, so that service people are only out of contact with family and friends for a matter of hours or days rather than weeks or months, but that it still takes a lot of sacrifice, both from the service person and his or her family.

“For a lot of you, that means missed holidays and birthdays and Christmas,” he said.

Several other active-duty and retired servicemen and women were in attendance, in addition to Lightsey, including his aide, Senior Msgt. Patrick Connolly, a Navy commander and a 95-year-old World War II veteran. Following Lightsey’s remarks, the IWA Chamber Chorus performed “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy” by the Andrews Sisters.

At the conclusion of the program, all IWA students sang “America the Beautiful.”