A group of representatives from Rehoboth Beach Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 7447, as well as its Men's and Ladies’ Auxiliaries, visited Dover AFB April 1 and toured Fisher House.
The Dover Fisher House is the most unique of the Fisher Houses across the country, which typically house family members of those being treated in military hospitals. Dover's Fisher House houses the Families of the Fallen. As families come to retrieve the remains of their loved ones who have lost their lives in service to their country, they have a place to rest and receive comfort.
As the remains arrive, the coffins are taken off the plane in order of the service branch, then in rank order for the dignified transfer. Last removed are the non-military who died in their military service-related work, like Department of Defense employees.
The group from Rehoboth VFW was met by Air Force Mortuary Affairs Chief Enlisted Advisor Sean Applegate, Col. John Devillier, and the chaplain, Major Jim Parrish. Accompanying the group throughout the tour was Maj. Jennifer M. Piggott, chief of public affairs for Air Force Mortuary Affairs Operations.
Although the purpose of the visit was the presentation of checks, the group more fully understood the importance of the facility by seeing it.
Before walking through the facility and surrounding space, the commander of Rehoboth VFW Post 7447 presented a check for $2,500. Much of that money was raised by World War II Air Force veteran John Ward through donations received from distribution of the VFW's Buddy Poppies. Post Quartermaster Arthur Frampton presented a check for $500 from the Men's Auxiliary, and Ladies’ Auxiliary Senior Vice President Buttercup Baker presented a check for $250.
Department of Delaware VFW Ladies Auxiliary Senior Vice President Frances Turner, also a member of the Rehoboth VFW Post Ladies Auxiliary, will have the Fisher House as her special project for her year as state president starting in June.
The first stop on the tour was the Meditation Garden, a place of solace. Then, as the group entered the building, they realized they were not seeingt typical mourners for those who have led long, full lives. Some are grieving loved ones, with little children and babies, who have lost their spouses. There was a playroom full of toys with a chalkboard where youngsters can express their feelings. Their images are captured on film before the board is cleaned. There are portable cribs in each room, a private space for nursing mothers and a fully stocked kitchen.
The group, consisting of Post Commander Tracey Bowen, Senior Vice Commander Everett Beach, Post Quartermaster Arthur Frampton, Sergeant at Arms John Ward, and Ladies Auxiliary members Buttercup Baker, Frances Turner, Judy Frampton and Barbara McGowan, had a chance to view the sculpture in the garden, "Angel and the Dying Unknown," by artist Greg Wyatt. At first glance, it appears as a rough bit of sculpture, almost like driftwood. As one studies it, the sculpture comes alive to reveal an angel lovingly holding a fallen service member, with helmet no longer needed.
Fisher House is a sacred space for the families. During the few days when they are there, it is a solace for them...an oasis...a shelter as they deal with the retrieval of their loved ones' remains before they go to their final resting place. A staff member is available 24/7 to be sure their every requirement is met. There are nine suites, which can house eight families and the escorts.
The VFW Post 7447 group members said they felt privileged to visit this unique facility and were glad they could help with its support.