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San Marcos Red and Blue Alumni Crew Working to Restore, Rededicate War Memorial

Volunteers are needed for Saturday to finish the project, with the Vietnam memorial set to be rededicated at next week's home football game

A group calling themselves the San Marcos High School Red and Blue Alumni Crew spent last Saturday morning restoring the school’s Vietnam War Memorial Plaza to its former glory.

Located in Valley Stadium, the memorial was dedicated in 1978 in honor of the San Marcos students and alumni who died while serving in the Vietnam War.

This summer, San Marcos alumni Matt Johnston and Scott Rodriguez noticed the deteriorated state of the memorial. The wall was discolored, and the once shiny bronze plaques were almost illegible.

“We decided that it was time to give back to the community, and pledged never to let (the memorial) get to this state of disarray again,” Johnston said.

He and Rodriguez gathered their alumni friends and organized a restoration effort.

Last Saturday was their first cleanup day, which drew a crowd of about 30 volunteers. The former football players, their friends and families went to work scrubbing off years of accumulated grime and shining the letters as they reappeared.

The group plans to rededicate the memorial on Friday, Sept. 23, at the school’s first home football game of the season. That evening, the flagpole will host flags previously flown over the Capitol buildings of California and the United States. The ceremony will feature the U.S. Marine Corps Color Guard and honor the memory of the alumni who died at war.

Johnston and Rodriguez have invited the families of the students named on the memorial to attend the rededication, along with the family of one of their former teachers, Col. George Woolsey. A leader in the effort to build the war memorial at Valley Stadium, Woolsey served in the Philippines during World War II. After retiring from the U.S. Army, he taught math for 15 years at San Marcos. Woolsey died in June 2010.

Volunteers have been scrubbing off years of grime and shining the letters of San Marcos High School's Vietnam War Memorial.
Volunteers have been scrubbing off years of grime and shining the letters of San Marcos High School’s Vietnam War Memorial. (San Marcos High School Red and Blue Alumni Crew photo)

Santa Barbara Unified School District Superintendent Dave Cash also has been invited to attend the ceremony.

But for the Red and Blue Alumni Crew, this restoration effort is only the beginning. The offshoot of the official San Marcos High School Alumni Association was organized after the annual San Marcos vs. Santa Barbara High School alumni football game as a way to keep alumni involved in the school.

“We want to get people to recommit to San Marcos High School,” Johnston said. As such, the group plans to make the maintenance of the Vietnam War Memorial Plaza an annual event.

San Marcos alumni, their families and members of the community are invited to help finish restoring the memorial from 9 a.m. to noon this Saturday. Volunteers will meet at the memorial at the south end of the stadium. Tools will be provided.

In addition, the group will host a Football Fiesta on Sept. 23 before the dedication and football game against the Port Hueneme Vikings. A taco dinner will be held from 5:30 to 6:45 p.m. on the blacktop by the lower stadium gate. Tickets are $7 for adults, $3 for children age 12 or younger. Kickoff will be at 7 p.m.

For more information, call Johnston at 805.252.0665 or email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Noozhawk intern Jessica Haro can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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