Magazine article Momentum

Saint Mary's College High School Dedicates Memorial to Alumni Veterans

Magazine article Momentum

Saint Mary's College High School Dedicates Memorial to Alumni Veterans

Article excerpt

California school celebrates and reverences the service and sacrifice of veterans

On Wednesday, Nov. 10, 2010, the school community and invited guests at Saint Mary's College High School in Berkeley, California, marked Veterans Day with the dedication of a new campus flagpole and bronze memorial plaque honoring Saint Mary's alumni who have served in the United States armed forces.

The family of decorated Korean War veteran Jack Macy '48 donated the monument and flagpole. Macy passed away in 2009 and his family was in attendance at the mid-morning ceremony, including a grandson currently attending the high school and another who is a 2010 graduate.

A Marine Corps color guard presented the special flag raised on the new flagpole. It was the flag that school alumnus Tom Paich '49 and his family received in February 1945 upon the death of his older brother, Frank, who died from wounds suffered on the first day of the battle of Iwo Jima. At the time of Frank's death, Tom was an eighth grader at St. Patrick's Catholic School in Oakland now St. Martin de Forres School) and was awaiting acceptance to high school at Saint Mary's. The flag had never been unfolded.

Mr. Paich, now 79 and himself a Korean War vet, raised the flag at the November ceremony, joined by school alumna Army Chief Warrant Officer Mary Rone OO, a Blackhawk medivac helicopter pilot and Iraq War veteran.

In the week leading up to the event, poster-size dedications to a number of alumni veterans from World War Il and the Korean, Vietnam and Iraq wars were posted around the school campus. Students stopped to read the stories of these men and women, some of whom gave their lives in the service of their country only a few years after graduation from Saint Mary's.

Among the stories is that of Auggie Gaspar, class of 1936, who left his college studies to join the Army Air Corps a month after the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. Gaspar was shot down over Germany in 1943 and spent 19 months as a prisoner of war, spending captivity writing a diary of the months preceding his capture, including poignant thoughts and handsketched illustrations of the moments just before jumping from his burning aircraft. Liberated by General Patton's troops in May 1945, Gaspar remained in the Air Corps, retiring as a Lieutenant Colonel. Until his death at age 90 in 2007, Gaspar continued to join the remaining members of Saint Mary's Class of 1936 for their annual reunion held in the Christian Brothers' residence on campus every spring. The men have met every year since graduation except for two years during World War II.

Other alumni veterans specially honored along with Macy, Paich, Rone and Gaspar were Marine Corporal Francisco Leo Samson '64, killed in Vietnam June 15, 1967: Army Specialist Five John Bussey Waller '66, killed in Vietnam March 27, 1969; First Lieutenant Robert John Stork, Jr. '6O, killed in Vietnam April 2, 1969; Lance Corporal Thomas P. Mahoney III '66, killed in Vietnam July 6, 1968; Private. James Fred Brown '48, killed in action in Korea July 8, 1953; Marine Corporal Vincent P. O'Hare '62, who, after a long and harrowing night with his platoon on the USS Alamo off the coast of South Vietnam, arrived at their designated location to deliver vehicles and equipment to a small village schoolyard, where he was gratefully surprised to be greeted by three Vietnamese Christian Brothers, men from the same religious order who had taught him back home at Saint Mary's High. …

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