US Navy Helicopter Pilot Lt Kristina Byrne Oberst Honors the Sacrifice of Military Aviators during Memorial Day Ceremony in Binney Park

By Jackson Kim, GHS Class of 2024

U.S. Navy helicopter pilot, Lt. Kristina Byrne Oberst, a graduate of Greenwich High School and the US Naval Academy, delivered a speech in Binney Park following the Memorial Day Parade up Sound Beach Ave.

After thanking the Sound Beach Volunteer Fire Department for organizing the events, Oberst spoke about how the parade in Old Greenwich reminded her of similar celebrations during her childhood before focusing on remembering those who have died in service of their nation, in peacetime and in training operations.

Lt. Kristina Byrne Oberst delivered Memorial Day remarks in Binney Park. May 27, 2024. Photo: Jackson Kim

“The world today is a dangerous place. There are well armed aggressors that threaten friends of this country, as well as this country’s interests directly,” she said.

Lt. Oberst then discussed the ongoing recruiting crisis, mentioning how active duty service members now comprise less than 1% of US adults, and that all services are failing to meet or barely meeting recruitment quotas.

“But those that do serve risk their lives by training and operating in the air, on and under the sea, and on land in very dangerous conditions,” she said.

Oberst also emphasized that all military deaths, whether they be in combat or during training and routine operations, are ‘no less important to recognize.’

Recalling a quote from a naval officer, she said that risk was a part of service, and if the military truly wanted to eliminate risk from naval aviation, the only way to do so would be to lock their planes inside hangars forever. She said that the men and women who lost their lives in the military accepted the risk because ‘the benefits outweighed the costs, even the cost of their lives.’

Lt. Kristina Byrne Oberst delivered Memorial Day remarks in Binney Park. May 27, 2024. Photo: Jackson Kim

Bringing up the Navy’s Blue Angel Airshow at Jones Beach over the weekend, Oberst
brought attention to the fact that 28 men have died while serving with the Blue Angels, and how the way their planes fly at 400 miles per hour just 18 inches apart means even small mistakes can be deadly.

She also congratulated Lieutenant Commander Amanda Lee, who was featured in this year’s airshow and is the first woman to earn a spot on the team, and who Oberst roomed with on the U.S.S. Harry S. Truman.

After emphasizing the connection between military aviators by mentioning how all naval aviators begin flight school at Pensacola, and how Coast Guard, Marine and Navy pilots all complete the same training and earn the same wings of gold, Oberst went on to list the names and remember the lives lost in the Naval and Marine Corps Aviation in the past year.

For all of those named, Oberst emphasized the families left behind, and the work relatives do to not only persist but to remember those who have been lost.

She thanked the families of those who lost their lives in service, noting that their, “unwavering support enabled your service members to safeguard us all, for which we are profoundly grateful.”

Oberst ended her remarks with a prayer asking God to watch over the servicemen and women currently deployed who ‘enable us to enjoy this beautiful day in our great nation.’