POW/MIA’s saluted at Fullerton Memorial Day

All veterans were saluted at the 85th Annual Fullerton Memorial Day Observance on Monday, May 29, at Loma Vista Memorial Park, attended by an estimated 1,000 people.

Special recognition was given to POW/ MIA’s (Prisoners of War and Missing in Action) since Lt. John Minogue, MIA since 1943, was interred at Loma Vista on April 20, 2023. His only living relative requested he is buried with his mother, who raised him by herself during the 1920s and 1930s. Prior to the program, all veterans had professional photos taken by Dave & Sage Ryan of Motographix, Inc, and received special recognition pins from the AVMA in thanks for their service. This is possible because of a donation by the Rotary Club of Fullerton.

Also participating in the ceremony were vocalists Dave Deno and Kristen Romero, buglers Steve and daughter Anna Plett, the Fullerton Police and Fire Departments, the Fullerton American Legion Post 142, and the Fullerton Army JROTC and Troy Navy JROTC cadets. The Plett’s drove in from Bakersfield, and Deno flew in from his new home in Tennessee, showing their long-term commitment to the Fullerton program. On the prior Saturday, 100-plus community volunteers placed a cross or Star of David and a flag on approximately 4,400 veterans’ graves throughout the cemetery.

The guest speaker was Lieutenant General George W. Smith Jr., Commanding General I Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Pendleton, CA. On the day of the ceremony, LtGen Smith gave a flawless ten-minute speech. He also provided extensive detail on one of our few 21st-century veterans, SSgt William Harrell, USMC, killed in Iraq in 2005. He was a local young man who many in the audience remember.

After the speech, LTG Smith was most cordial in taking photos, answering questions, and interacting with the line of people who wanted to meet him. This 85th observance follows a tradition begun in 1939 by C. Stanley Chapman and his family of decorating each veteran’s grave with a flag and cross or Star of David. Sponsored by the American Veterans Memorial Association, Fullerton American Legion Post 142, the City of Fullerton, and Loma Vista Memorial Park, more information about the ceremony, including photos and videos, may be obtained by visiting their website at http://www.avmafullerton.org.