Photos by Kurt Burton Photography
On November 10th, Saint Mary’s College High School in Berkeley 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 memorial plaque below the flagpole reads, “Thank you Saint Mary’s alumni who have honorably served our country to make the world a better place.”
The family of decorated Korean War veteran Jack Macy ’48 donated the monument and flagpole. Macy, who passed away in 2009, was grandfather to a current student and to another who is a 2010 graduate. The special flag raised on the new flagpole was one that school alumnus Tom Paich ’49 and his family received in February 1945 upon the death of his older brother, Frank, who died in the battle of Iwo Jima. The flag had never been unfolded. Mr. Paich, himself a Korean War vet, raised that flag on Wednesday, joined by school alumna and Iraq War veteran, Mary Rone ’00, a Blackhawk Medivac helicopter pilot.
In anticipation of the event, poster-size dedications to a number of alumni veterans from World War II 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. Gaspar was shot down over Germany in 1943 and spent nineteen months as a prisoner of war, spending captivity writing a diary of the months preceding his capture, including poignant thoughts and hand-sketched 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 until 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 an annual reunion still held on campus every Spring.
Other alumni veterans specially honored along with Macy, Paich, Rone, and Gaspar were Corp. Francisco Leo Samson, USMC ’64, killed in Vietnam June 15, 1967; Army Specialist Five John Bussey Waller ’66, killed in Vietnam March 27, 1969; First Lt. Robert John Stork, Jr. ’60, killed in Vietnam April 2, 1969; Lance Corp. Thomas P. Mahoney III ’66, killed in Vietnam July 6, 1968; Pvt. James Fred Brown ’48, killed in action in Korea July 8, 1953; and Vincent P. O’Hare, USMC ’62. O’Hare, who spent a long and harrowing night with his platoon on the USS Alamo off the coast of South Vietnam before arriving at the designated school yard to deliver vehicles and equipment, 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.