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Memorial Day remembrance

Marine was intercepting Russian military traffic
Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Former Marine John W. W. Calvert was surprised when he learned he would be going to counter intelligence training.

It was an unlikely turn of events after he just completing advanced infantry training and was en route to El Toro Base in California.

Calvert will share his story on Memorial Day, Monday, May 27 at Memorial Lane Park, 550 N. Travis St. Now living in Boca Rotan, Florida, Calvert is the featured speaker for the Memorial Day opening ceremony at 8:45 a.m.

Calvert’s transfer of duties led to his training in Marine Communications Systems in Iwakuni, Japan. As a member of the team of Marine telegraphers, he secretly intercepted encrypted Russian military traffic being bounced off the Russian Sputnik satellite to the Kamchatka Peninsula. These codes were sent immediately to the Central Intelligence Agency.

In 1958 and during the Formosa Crisis, Calvert and his team were stationed in Formosa to provide communication relays to the Nationalist Soldiers.

Upon recommendation by the division commander, Calvert attended and graduated in April 1960 from the Marine Embassy School. He was then placed on duty at the Embassy in Paris during the Peace Conference to guard President Eisenhower, as well as all the heads of state in attendance.

He received a letter of recommendation from the Secretary of State and a resulting transfer to permanent duty at the Embassy in Cairo, Egypt.

Additional Marine service highlights were at the American Embassy surviving a terrorist booby trap, developing an emergency defense for the Embassy; convincing a Russian space engineer to apply for political asylum and the discovery of two spies.


The Memorial Day program at Memorial Lane Park opens with a musical presentation by Robert Silvestri on the bagpipes.

Musical presentations are also included by vocalists Michael Alexander and Brayton Mitchell.

A lowering the flag ceremony includes participation by the Riley Stephens family, Army; J.C. Campbell family, Navy; Warren David Calvert and Diann Lewis, Marines; Sam and Tony Mobly, Coast Guard; and the Laura Fisher family, Air Force.

Julia Pannell, of Friends of Memorial Lane, will deliver closing remarks.


Following the Memorial Lane ceremony, attendees are encouraged to walk through a path lined with American flags to the square. The procession will be led with a percussionist and bag pipe player.

Retired Air Force Maj. Gen. Howard Thompson is featured speaker for a Memorial Day Ceremony on the square.

Thompson graduated from the Air Force Academy in 1976. He was a flying instructor pilot for the T-38, F-15 and F-16.

He completed an exchange tour with the Navy as an F/A-18 and F-14 operational test and evaluation pilot.

His commands included a fighter squadron, operations group and the 7th Air Force Airborne Command Element. Thompson was also mobilization assistant to the Chef of Staff and Deputy to the Chief of Air Force Reserve, headquarters in Washington, D.C.

During Operation Iraqi Freedom, he served as Director, Air Component Coordination Element, in support of the Coalition Forces Maritime Component Commander.

As a command pilot, he has more than 3,900 flying hours in fighter and trainer aircraft, including combat missions over Bosnia.


A Memorial Day ceremony on the square begins at 10 a.m. Monday, May 27 with a Missing Man formation fly by Pecan Plantation pilots.

The winning essay will be announced for “What Memorial Day Means to Me.” The writer will receive a $100 gift card from American Legion 278.

Veterans will be recognized and a wreath placed.

Student participation and musical presentations are planned.


Participants in a Ruck March Monday, May 27 will gather for a briefing at Memorial Lane at 8 a.m. March participants will lead the Remembrance Walk to the square at the close of the Memorial Lane Ceremony.

The Ruck March will arrive at Field of Flags, 3602 E. Highway 377, prior to the closing ceremony at 2 p.m. | 817-573-7066, ext. 255



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