Wreath Ceremony: “The Honor Was Mine”

A Personal Account
By Jim Cihak

The Fallen Warriors Memorial is located just North of 249 and 1960, only minutes from Downtown Houston. As you approach the memorial on foot, the large granite pillars greet you, offering their silent testimony to the more than 630 fallen warriors, U.S. service men and women from the state of Texas, who paid the ultimate price while serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.

As I read the inscribed names in the granite, I couldn’t help but feel I was standing on hallowed ground. About 25 yards south, two bronze statues stand in tribute to the many K9 heroes, the military service dogs who never made it home.

On Sunday December 10th, 2023, it was my absolute pleasure to escort two of our very own local heroes from North Shore to the Fallen Warriors Memorial. As a member of the Southeast Texas Patriot Guard Riders (PGR), I invited two Vietnam War Veterans to attend the 4th Annual Wreath Ceremony at the Fallen Warriors Memorial with me. The event was cohosted by the Patriot Guard Riders, Rolling Thunder, Blue Star Moms, The Girl Scouts, and other organizations and individuals. I transported U.S. Navy Electrician Mate 2nd Class Trouard Alfred Breard III (age 84) and U.S. Army Special Forces Staff Sergeant James “Jim” Bishop, Sr. (age 79) from North Shore to the memorial.

As the Operations Manager for Pineforest Jewelry several years, and as one of our countless military veteran customers, both he and Jim are members of the VFW in Channelview. Upon arriving at the staging area, many of the PGR and Rolling Thunder members were already there. These true patriots greeted Alfred and Jim with warm smiles, handshakes, and respect.

When we left the staging area and arrived at the memorial for the ceremony, both Alfred and Jim were asked if they would like to participate in the ceremony by presenting/placing the wreath for their respective branch of the military under which they served. Their faces lit up and they both accepted the invitation.

The Master of Ceremonies welcomed the attendees and introduced a few of the guests of honor… those who had organized this event as well as the caretakers of the memorial. Jim was the first to place a wreath at the memorial on behalf of the United States Army. After placing the wreath, he came to attention and saluted. At the appropriate time, Alfred did the same presentation of his wreath and salute on behalf of the United States Navy.

A little bit about these two Vietnam War Veterans from North Shore:

Trouard Alfred Breard III – Electrician Mate 2nd Class U.S. Navy, assigned to the USS Thetis Bay (a World War II ship that was re-fitted as the world’s first amphibious assault helicopter carrier). During the Vietnam war, the ship’s missions included being a launching point for transporting Marines via helicopter to critical landing zones and to provide training and support for helicopter pilots to fly from the ship into Saigon and evacuate designated U.S. Citizens.

James “Jim” Bishop, Sr. – Staff Sergeant U.S. Army Special Forces, assigned to serve in SE Asia as a demolitions expert. While setting an explosive charge to disable an enemy boat, the charge detonated prematurely and seriously injured Jim. The concussive blast was so severe that he was examined by US Army personnel and determined KIA (Killed In Action). Hours later Jim awoke and, when he had recovered enough, crawled to cover to wait for nightfall. It took Jim many days to get himself back to his base by hiding during the day and traveling at night. After some time, Jim’s “KIA” status was rescinded.

Once we returned to North Shore from the memorial event that Sunday, both Alfred and Jim thanked me and told me how honored they were to present the wreaths. My reply to them was simple: “The honor was mine.”