MDG Employees Reflect on the Meaning of Memorial Day

Article by Jennifer Oliver |   May 28, 2021

As a small defense contractor, Martin Defense Group prides itself on being an agile and responsive company that provides innovative products and solutions to the Department of Defense, particularly the Navy and Marine Corps teams.

This Memorial Day, we wanted to share some personal thoughts from our very own employees who are Veterans. Though we may be apart this Memorial Day, there is something very special about coming together, regardless of location, to pay respect to America’s fallen heroes.

Featured below in Q&A style, each of our employees is wearing a symbolic poppy pin*, representing the military men and women who have given their lives since World War I to defend our freedom.

Dan Brunk

CEO

Retired, U.S. Navy                                  

Is there something that you do every year on Memorial Day to observe the day?

It depends on the year and the local events, but a few years ago, I was a co-Grand Marshall with my parents in my hometown Memorial Day parade. My father is retired Navy (WWII vet, part of Cuban Missile Crisis blockade), and my mother was in the WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service) for ten years.

How is MDG’s mission similar to your mission when you were serving?

My goal is to make our applied research and development work at MDG beneficial for the Sailors, Marines, Coast Guardsmen, Soldier, Airmen, and Guardians. We always need to be good stewards of taxpayers’ dollars. We do this by building teams and focusing on the mission. These principles are no different than stationing a ‘special watch’ to conduct a non-routine mission.

Todd Fee

Director, Pacific Operations

Retired, U.S. Air Force

What does Memorial Day mean to you?

It’s a time to reflect upon the over 1.1 million Americans who lost their lives protecting the values we cherish today.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

I’ve always felt the most important thing I could do in uniform was to ensure my team was well trained and positioned to be the best. Working for a defense contractor who has the potential to provide advanced material solutions to ensure the US maintains its technological advantage, is a way I can continue to make that impact.

Richard “Paco” Sanchez

SVP, Strategy

Retired, U.S. Navy

What does Memorial Day mean to you?

Memorial Day is a day that has become very personal for me. It’s filled with reflection and remembrance. Many of my friends have made the ultimate sacrifice answering the call of the nation, so I use this day to honor them.

Is there something you do every year on Memorial Day to observe the day?

We usually are camping on Memorial Day. I have an American flag with a name for each person I know (over 30 flags) who has made the ultimate sacrifice that I plant around the campsite.

Pam Berry

Facility Security Officer

Retired, U.S. Navy

What does Memorial Day mean to you?

A day to remember those who sacrificed everything for this country and for those who are fortunate enough to call it home.

Is there something you do every year on Memorial Day to observe the day?

I think of my friends I lost in the pentagon during 9/11, and while serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Shannon Blackerby

Director of Strategy, Special Operations Forces

Former, U.S. Marine Corps, National Guard

How is MDG’s mission similar to your mission when you were serving?

It is very similar. Both focus on a greater cause that is something bigger than just yourself, the fact that others are relying on you to do the right thing and to make the right decision. 

Is there anything else you would like to add?

There is a tremendous amount of divisiveness today in our country. Take a moment this Memorial Day and set your politics aside. Set your preconceived notions and ideas aside. Give a head nod to those veterans who have passed. An instant in time to acknowledge their service.  In that instant, realize that there is a common bond that we all share. We are Americans.

Thank you to Dan, Todd, Paco, Pam, and Shannon for sharing their personal stories with us. We hope you all have a safe Memorial Day and can take a moment to remember the sacrifice of veterans, past and present.

*The poppy was made famous in a poem called “In Flanders Fields,” by the Canadian surgeon, LCOL John McRae from Guelph, Ontario. Read the poem here.