Nation’s second highest-ranking military officer to speak at 500 Festival Memorial Service

Nation’s second highest-ranking military officer to speak at 500 Festival Memorial Service

Wed, 2012-04-11

INDIANAPOLIS (April 11, 2012) – The 500 Festival announced today that Admiral James A. Winnefeld, Jr. will be the featured speaker at the 500 Festival Memorial Service, presented by Rolls-Royce.

It’s an honor for the 500 Festival to kick off an exciting Memorial Day weekend by recognizing Indiana’s men and women who’ve fallen in service of this great nation. The 500 Festival Memorial Service, presented by Rolls-Royce, is scheduled for Friday, May 25 at noon on the north steps of the Soldiers and Sailors Monument in downtown Indianapolis. The event is free and open to the public.

Admiral Winnefeld is currently the ninth Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and is the nation’s second highest-ranking military officer. Most recently, he served as the commander of North American Aerospace Defense Command and U.S. Northern Command.

Winnefeld’s unit commands at sea include Fighter Squadron 211, USS Cleveland and USS Enterprise. In addition to leading combat operations in Afghanistan Operation Enduring Freedom, and in Iraq Operation Iraqi Freedom, he also served as commander for the United States 6th Fleet, NATO Allied Joint Command in Lisbon and Striking and Support Forces NATO. Winnefeld’s shore tours include service as senior aide to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and executive assistant to the Vice Chief of Naval Operations. As a flag officer, he served ashore as director of Warfare Programs and Transformational Concepts, Joint Innovation and Experimentation at United States Joint Forces Command and Strategic Plans and Policy on the Joint Staff. 

Winnefeld graduated from the Georgia Institute of Technology and received his commission through the Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps program. He subsequently served with three fighter squadrons flying the F-14 Tomcat and as an instructor at the Navy Fighter Weapons School. His awards include the Defense Distinguished Service Medal, Distinguished Service Medal, Defense Superior Service Medal, the Legion of Merit, the Bronze Star, the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, the Meritorious Service Medal, the Air Medal, and five Battle Efficiency awards.

The 500 Festival Memorial Service will also include the Joint Services Color Guard presentation of colors. Performances will include the Indiana National Guard’s 38th Infantry Division Band and the Capital City Chorus.

A wreath-laying ceremony, dedicated to the memory of all Hoosiers in all wars and conflicts who sacrificed their lives in defense of the nation, will take place while the names of those Indiana servicemen who have fallen within the past year are read aloud.

As part of a military funeral Cortége, a special horse-drawn caisson presented by the Indiana National Guard Joint Forces Headquarters Ceremonial Unit, will symbolize military personnel who accompany the remains of the deceased to the gravesite. The rider-less horse represents the deceased have fallen as a warrior and will not ride again. A ceremonial flyover will conclude the service.

The 500 Festival Memorial Service, presented by Rolls-Royce, is sponsored and supported by Rolls-Royce, OneAmerica, The American Legion, radio partner WFMS 95.5 FM and TV partner WNDY-TV, who will be telecasting the event commercial-free.

To learn more about the 500 Festival Memorial Service, presented by Rolls-Royce, visit

To download a photo of Admiral James A. Winnefeld, Jr., please click here.

The mission of the 500 Festival is to advocate and celebrate the spirit, heritage and legacy of the Indianapolis 500®. Through social, cultural and educational events and programs, the 500 Festival enhances the quality of life for all citizens of our communities.

The 500 Festival, a not-for-profit volunteer organization, was created in 1957 to organize civic events celebrating the greatest race in the world. Over the past 55 years, the 500 Festival has grown to become one of the largest festivals in the nation.

Last year, more than 500,000 Hoosiers and visitors participated in nearly 50 events and programs throughout the month of May. Whether they were athletes running the Mini-Marathon, fourth grade students participating in the Education Program, families enjoying the state’s largest festival for kids or spectators being dazzled by one of the nation’s premier parades, they were there, celebrating the legacy.


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