Veterans Day (and the American Heroes Tribute we should all visit)

Yesterday afternoon I attended the city of Mission Viejo’s Veterans Day ceremony. This was by far the largest turnout since we began honoring our military for their service to our country.

After keynote speaker Gordon Dillow of the Orange County Register concluded his presentation the public was invited to stroll down the path between the Mission Viejo library and our city hall to stop and view the 75, three feet by nine feet, banners that were erected on behalf of the fallen to honor and remember them for their service.

As this display will only be available this week I revisited the site this morning when fewer people were present to stop and read many of the banners. These young men and women were a cross section of America. These banners with photos clearly reflect Black, White, Hispanic and Vietnamese men and women. In addition to many from cities in California I spotted banners of servicemen whose home states ranged from Del. FL. IN, IL, Iowa, Ky., Mass, MI, MO., North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, PA, Puerto Rico, Tenn. and Texas to VA. There was even one from Peru.

Let me share a partial listing of some of their names, units and ages.

Major Megan McClung, 34, Marine, hometown Mission Viejo, CA

Sgt. Quoc Binh “Bo” Tran, 26, CA Army National Guard, Mission Viejo, CA

LCPL John M. Armendarez, 22, USMC, Santa Ana, CA

The oldest serviceman honored in the display:

Staff Sgt. Stephen Bertolino, Sr., 40, US ARMY and USMC, avionics & platoon Sgt.
3rd ACR killed in an ambush in Iraq.

First Sgt. Alan N. Gifford, 39, US Army
Gunnery Sgt. Jeffrey E. Bohr, 39, USMC
1St Lt. Oscar Jiminez, 34, US Marine Corps

The youngest included:

Lance Corporal Anthony Roberts, 18, US Marine Corps
PFC. Daniel Ray Parker, 18, US ARMY, 101st Airborne
Lance Corporal Abraham Simpson, 19, USMC
Lance Corporal Karl R Linn, 20, USMC
Sgt. Rhys W. Klasno, 20, US Army National Guard

Others include:

Thai Vue, 22, US Army
Sgt. Joseph C Nurre, 22, US Army Reserves
Sgt. Mike T. Sonoda, Jr., 34, US Army National Guard
Petty Officer 1st Class Neil C Roberts, 32, US Navy Seal
HN Charles O. Sare “Otter”, 23, US Navy/Marine Corps
Sgt. David Herrera, 26, US Army

Let me repeat that this “free” display is open to the public this week. The Library/city hall civic center is just off the intersection of La Paz Road and Marguerite Parkway in Mission Viejo.

The American Heroes Tribute project is to honor “our Soldiers, Marines, Sailors and Airmen; the brave men and women in uniform who have made the ultimate sacrifice.”
They have “given their lives and have paid the ultimate price to preserve our freedom.”

The goal of this 501 C-3 non-profit is to “print tribute banners for every service person who has lost his or her life in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

To learn more about the American Heroes Tribute you can simply go to their web site: or call 1.800.983.HERO

About Larry Gilbert