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NEWS | April 22, 2024

NRC Miami Honors, Remembers and Recognizes Gold Star Families

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Natalia Murillo

The comfort of empathy and a warm reception can provide hope and strength for those who have lost a loved one. Few people will ever know the emotions felt with the loss of a spouse, child or sibling, to military service. This experience defines a Gold Star family member.
The Navy Reserve Center (NRC) Miami supported Honor and Remember and Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) during a reception recognizing three Gold Star families, aboard the Norwegian Joy, a Breakaway Plus-class cruise ship, in the Port of Miami, November 8, 2023.
The three fallen heroes of the Gold Star families recognized during the event included:
- U.S. Army Sgt. James Morrison
- U.S. Navy Cryptologic Technician (Networks) Third Class Ian B. Younger
- U.S. Navy Lt. Cmdr. Mark A. Ehlers
The NRC Miami Color Guard team started the event with the tradition of ceremoniously parading the flags.
U.S. Navy Cmdr. Erin Elliott, commanding officer, NRC Miami, was proud to have her team assist this unique occasion.
“We are honored to have been invited to such a special event supporting our Gold Star families,” said Elliott, with gratitude. “They, along with their fallen service members, have borne the ultimate sacrifice. Being there for the ceremony shows our support and gratitude for these families and what they have endured. We would also like to thank Honor and Remember and Norwegian Cruise Line for all they do to honor Gold Star families, veterans, and active duty military. Their support is priceless.”
NRC Miami generates mobilization readiness in support of Joint Forces deployed globally by providing Reserve Component expertise, administrative services, and training to over 550 Select Reserve Sailors.
The NRC Miami Color Guard team also serves as a funeral honors team and renders honors for local fallen military veterans. They are often witness to Gold Star families’ initial stages of grief and loss.
Honor and Remember takes the torch from there. According to their website, they aim to perpetually recognize the sacrifice of America’s military fallen service members and their families.
“We all have our struggles,“ said Sue Burke, surviving spouse to Ehlers, who, along with his crew, was lost at sea when his S-3B Viking went down 80 miles off the coast of Israel during operations from the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71), Feb. 4, 1997. Burke spoke of the challenges she dealt with immediately after she lost her husband and reiterates that these supportive tributes are extremely important to keep her ‘chin up.’
Honor and Reminder Founder, George Lutz, relates to this sentiment. Lutz lost his son, Cpl. George Anthony Lutz II, to military service when a sniper shot him while on patrol in Fallujah, Iraq, December 29, 2005. Through his own grieving grew the desire to push for greater support for the surviving families. Honor and Remember was created to serve that purpose.
The organization pays tribute to all military lives lost, not only while serving on active duty but also as a result of serving. Military deaths in all wars or conflicts from all branches of service to our nation are recognized. The Honor and Remember flag represents sacrifice and service and has been adopted as the state symbol of remembrance in 27 states, including Florida.
President of NCL, David Herrera, who is also an Army Veteran, recognized the Gold Star families and the company’s partnership with Honor and Remember during the intimate reception luncheon.
“Whether that loss happened three years ago or 35 years ago, it’s still your family,” said Herrera, emotionally.“ A father always misses his son, a sister always misses her sister. That family lives
with that forever. If we can give them just a little bit of comfort or a little bit of joy and let them know that we thought about their loved one, yes, that’s for us. We are 100 percent for it.”
That ‘little bit’ is already going a long way.
“To have Norwegian Cruise Lines embrace this message has just been a tremendous opportunity for us to be able to communicate this message and vision to the world,” said Lutz, passionately. “I’m so grateful that these families were able to come here and partake in this with us as the Norwegian Cruise Line waves our Honor and Remember flag for the first time. I cannot be more appreciative for what the team here has done as we embark on this partnership…they understand the mission.”
The partnership with Honor and Remember falls in line with Norwegian Cruise Line’s Military Appreciation Program. Events such as this Gold Star reception upholds the program’s mission.
Herrera’s comment as to why NCL has taken on this partnership and embraced a program in honor of those who have served cuts straight to the heart: “It’s just the right thing to do.”