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Aggie war casualties to be honored at building named for them: the MU


By Dave Jones

Memorial Day at the Memorial Union

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Photos by Gregory Urquiaga and Dave Jones/UC Davis

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George Harold Aabel, Walter Duncan Abel, George Edward Allen …

Military veterans who attend UC Davis will read 135 names aloud next week in an early Memorial Day observance — remembering the Aggies who did not make it back from war, from World War I through the Iraq War.

The ceremony, open to the public, is planned for Thursday (May 23) on the north patio of the Memorial Union, dedicated upon its opening 58 years ago to the memory of Aggies who made the ultimate sacrifice.

The 5 p.m. program will include a UC Davis Army ROTC color guard and a featured speaker, a World War II veteran. A reception will be held afterward in Griffin Lounge.

The names of our Gold Star Aggies — “Gold Star” is a term that surviving family members might use, as in Gold Star Mom or Gold Star Dad, to indicate the loss of a loved one in war — are inscribed in the campus’s Golden Memory Book, kept in a display case in a corner of Griffin Lounge. The names are also engraved on a wall of stainless steel in the same corner, near the fireplace.

Harlan Frederick Fricke, Robert Roy Fryer, Hubert Palmer Game …

The Golden Memory Book, which dates back to the Memorial Union’s dedication in 1955, started with more than 100 names from World War I and II. The book grew, sadly, with the Korean and Vietnam wars, to a total of 134 names.

No. 135 is Army Maj. Mark Taylor, UC Davis’ lone casualty from the Iraq War, who was killed in March 2004.

Each page, one per casualty, tells an Aggie story — the soldier’s hometown, college major, date of death and the circumstances. Photos accompany many of the stories.

The book has been kept in a case since 1994, to protect the pages from further wear and tear. Recently, Repro Graphics made a copy — digitally scanning the pages and assembling them into a bound volume, and it will be available to look through during the reception after next week’s ceremony.

Every day, Campus Recreation and Unions has an employee open the case to turn the pages of the Golden Memory Book, and all of the digital scans are available online (as a PDF).

Masaki Hattori, Max Leroy Hecox, Henry B. Heiken …

Credit for the book’s preservation and accessibility, and the Memorial Day observance, goes to Campus Recreation and Unions, a unit of Student Affairs. Campus Rec and Campus Unions merged in 2012.

“The new department feels it has a responsibility to prominently honor the memory of fallen Aggies,” said Amy Shuman, human resources analyst in Campus Recreation and Unions, and executive assistant to Executive Director John Campbell.

So, as part of the planning process for the forthcoming renewal of the MU building, Campbell and Matt Fucile, director of building services, have come up with ways to highlight the “memorial” aspect of the Memorial Union:

A new memorial will be created outside the north entrance, as a visual reminder to the community.

A kiosk will be erected inside, as a place where visitors can view the names and stories of the Gold Star Aggies.  

“But they felt it was important, even before these enhancements, to bring back the recognition of these Gold Star Aggies as soon as possible,” said Shuman, committee chair for next week’s observance.

“Memorial Day provided the perfect timing to reintroduce the building’s history to the campus.” 

She added: “We are already seeing a remarkable amount of energy from everyone involved in the planning, and aim to make this an annual event.”

William Herbert Paulsen Jr., George Haines Pearson, Larry Neil Phillips …

The May 23 ceremony will begin with the ROTC color guard, posting the flag; the national anthem, sung a capella by Nicole Tanner of the Cal Aggie Marching Band; and the Pledge of Allegiance.

ASUCD President Carly Sandstrom will be the MC, and Adela de la Torre, interim vice chancellor of Student Affairs, will deliver welcoming remarks.

The guest speaker, Francis Resta of Davis, served with the Army in Europe from 1943 to 1946. He was wounded in 1944, returned to battle two months later, and thereafter joined the march across the Rhine River and northern Germany to the Elbe by the time of V-E Day in May 1945.

Resta, whose military honors include a Bronze Star and Purple Heart, is expected to talk about “choices” — the choice to remember those who gave their lives for U.S. freedom, or the choice to not remember.

Campus Recreation and Unions has clearly chosen to remember — bringing the names of UC Davis’ war casualties out of the Golden Memory Book and off the stainless-steel monument, and reading them out loud.

“We’re paying tribute to their sacrifice, and we are reminding the campus where the name ‘Memorial’ Union comes from,” Campbell said. “This remembrance is important to the Memorial Union, UC Davis and to our community.”

Delmer Clinten Watterson, Charles Peter Watts, William Monroe West …

These are among the names of soldiers from the past, to be read by veterans of today, students now, pulled together by the campus’s Veterans Affairs Office, to honor their comrades in arms, fellow Aggies who did not come home. And when the reading is done, trumpeter Tyler Hager of the Cal Aggie Marching Band will play taps.

Gold Star Aggies

All the names (excluding Maj. Taylor’s), along with class year at UC Davis, branch of service, highest rank and the war in which the Aggies lost their lives. Digital scans of every page of the Golden Memory Book can be seen in this PDF.

Earlier coverage

"City dedicates park to alumnus killed in Vietnam," Dateline UC Davis (May 25, 2007)

“Honoring the fallen: Staffer remembers those who did not return from war,” Dateline UC Davis (May 26, 2006)

“Golden memories,” Dateline UC Davis (May 26, 2006)

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