In a moving ceremony held at the Brookfield VFW Post Facility on Candlewood Lake Road, over 100 onlookers this past Saturday witnessed the renaming of the Post to honor the memory of former Brookfield resident, Chief Petty Officer and Navy Seal, Jason D. Lewis, who was killed during Operation Iraqi Freedom. As the old Post flag was retired a new standard was unveiled bearing the re-designated Post name; the Jason D. Lewis Brookfield Memorial VFW Post 10201.
Among those present were Jason's widow, Donna Tyranski Lewis, and her three children Jack, Max ,and Grace, as well as Jason's mom, Jean Mariano. In addition, in attendance were former Connecticut Governor, the Honorable Jodi Rell ,and two Navy Seals, David Williams and Ronald Simony, both of whom served with Lewis as members of Seal Team 10 while he was in Iraq.As part of the proceedings a shadow box containing Jason's photo, as well as his awards to include the Bronze Star and Purple Heart, which were provided by Jason's wife, was uncovered and it will be on permanent display at the Post facility.
On the post grounds in proximity to the shores of Candlewood Lake, a stone monument with a Bronze plaque was unveiled. It reads: Jason D. Lewis Chief Special Warfare Operator Brookfield Memorial VFW Post 10201 renamed on 13 December 2018 KIA 6 July 2007 Baghdad Iraq remembered for his and his family's sacrifice.On viewing the plaque, Jason's mom commented, "Jason from the time he was a little boy loved the outdoors, and fishing was a passion with him. Since he spent so many hours in the past on Candlewood Lake, it is truly fitting this monument be placed so near to the site he treasured which always meant so much to him."
Joseph Beal, Commander of the Brookfield VFW Post offered the keynote speech addressing the audience and saying in part, "Only a small percentage of Americans raise their hands to support and defend the United States against all enemies. Over the years 44 of our Brookfield resident heroes have fallen in battle. For us, one hero stood out. Chief Petty Officer Jason Lewis. His heroism to our community, our state, and our nation is clear. Chief Lewis is the hero that can represent who we want to be, our guiding light. His name is synonymous with courage, strength, and integrity. So after almost 50 years, our Post voted unanimously to change our name, and as your commander it is my highest honor and privilege to be the first to welcome you to the Jason D. Lewis Brookfield Memorial Post."
Governor Rell, reflecting on Jason was quoted as saying, "he is a hero not just to Brookfield but to our entire state and our country."
Subsequent speeches from veteran liaison representatives Claude Campbell of Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy's office, and Shelby Hernandez of 5th District Congresswomen Jahana Hayes's office conveyed kind thoughts passed on from the Connecticut Senator and House member.
Town First Selectman Steven Dunn told all present that Jason's sacrifice is a solemn reminder that our freedom is not free. Then pointing to the American Flag, concluded by saying, "its colors may bleed but they will never run."
Navy Seal Ronald Simony presented to Brookfield VFW Post Commander Beal an enlarged photograph of a huge sign which had been mounted over the Seal Team 10 base camp in Iraq shortly after Lewis' death honoring his memory.
Nearing the end of the ceremony, a poignant 21-gun salute rendered by the Post's Honor Guard highlighted the observance, followed by the playing of Taps by retired Danbury Police Officer, Al Russo.
The proceedings closed when Soprano, Arianna Carlo, who had opened the ceremony with the singing of The Star-Spangled Banner, ended with a stanza of God Bless America.