Ramona salutes fallen veterans
By Maureen Robertson
Each of the 585 U.S. flags on gravesites at Nuevo Memory Gardens represents the final resting place of a veteran, Doug Scholl said during Memorial Day ceremonies at the cemetery Monday.
“All of them have a story,” said Scholl, commander of Ramona Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 3783, encouraging veterans to tell those stories. “Please, whether you’re from World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Desert Storm or currently serving today, write down, jot down some of your experiences so some day we can carry that legacy forward proudly, as it should be.”
District 71 Assemblyman Brian Jones told of a man in Prescott, Ariz., who enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps in November 1941. It was not until the end of the detailed account of the man’s experiences, including two years in a Japanese prison camp, that the crowd learned the man was Paul Dane Jones, the assemblyman’s grandfather, who weighed 98 pounds at the end of the war. The elder Jones received a Purple Heart, Air Medal, Good Conduct Medal, American Defense Ribbon and German Occupation Medal.
“Unfortunately, many of my grandfather’s friends” and millions of other Americans throughout the country’s history never made it home, said Jones, whose voice at times broke with emotion. “… And this is why Memorial Day is important to me.”
As is tradition toward the end of the ceremony, each veteran gave his or her name, branch of service, years in service and other
information. Les Merrill, U.S. Navy, submarines, served from 1965-71, and shrugged when asked why he did not add his name to the 43 men and one woman who spoke.
“He’s very modest,” said friend Susan Biggs, adding that Merrill is a retired police detective.
The ceremony also included the presentation of flowers to Ramona Gold Star mothers. U.S. Navy Lt. Cmdr. Mark Dumas presented bouquets to Ruth Warnock, grandmother of U.S. Army Cpl. Jeremiah Santos, who was killed in action in Baghdad, Iraq, on June 15, 2006, and to Maria Ojeda, mother of U.S. Army Sp4 Ramon Ojeda, killed in action in Am-a-rah, Iraq, on May 1, 2004.
For the first time, Ramona High School Navy Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps presented an award in memory of Ojeda, who was an NJROTC cadet. Cadet of the Year Carlo Silva, the unit’s first recipient, presented a duplicate medallion to Maria Ojeda. It is purple to represent the Purple Heart awarded to her son after his death, said Scholl.
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