The Department of State recently unveiled a brand new memorial, honoring those who gave their lives while serving abroad, as part of the Department’s criminal justice assistance initiative – and one of those honored during a special ceremony held in Washington, D.C. on May 13th, was one of Cherokee County’s own – Gary Chesnut.
Chesnut spent a number of years working as a crop duster pilot across northeast Alabama prior to going to work for the East company, which was a contractor for the State Department eradicating illegal drug crops in Central and South America.
Both Chesnut and a co-worker were killed when their plane when down in Bogata, Colombia, on July 27th of 1998, due to what was later determined to have been a mechanical failure.
Ambassador William R. Brownfield, Assistant Secretary of the Bureau of International Narcotics & Law Enforcement Affairs paid tribute during the recent ceremony to 86 personnel listed on the memorial wall – and presented flags to the families of the fallen.
We asked Neal for his thoughts on the extraordinary work that his father performed, and he pointed out how proud he was of his father, and so many others, who dedicated themselves to making things safer for everyone.
Neal went on to say that the trip, which also included a visit to Arlington Cemetery, was a highly emotional one, and it was an educational one for his two small children, who’ll someday come to fully realize the importance of his father’s courage and sacrifice.