Santa Rosa unveils war memorial

July 2, 2008 7:29:30 PM PDT
As we prepare to celebrate America's independence, the sacrifices of some local warriors are being honored. A monument with the names of 448 Sonoma County veterans killed in action was dedicated at Santa Rosa City Hall.

U.S. veterans and their families came to Santa Rosa to honor those who died in the past seven conflicts, from the Philippine-American War of 1899 to the most recent ones in Afghanistan and Iraq.

On the memorial made of granite, are the names of 448 Sonoma County vets killed in combat.

Former Marine 1st Sgt. Ross Liscum and eight other vets came up with the concept five years ago.

"We had it designed in such a way that it's a very nice open area, where someone can look at the names, touch the names, feel the names, reflect on past memories," said Sgt. Liscum.

And there were plenty of memories beginning with Donald Clouston who served in World War II.

"There were 163 men in my company when the Germans got done with us there were only 36 that 'wasn't' dead of wounded, I was one of the 36. They killed the rest of them," said Clouston.

Stephanie Coleman's father, Michael Ottolini served in Iraq where he was killed by a road side bomb in 2004. She still remembers their last Thanksgiving together.

"We went around the table and said what we were thankful for and it came to him and he said, his family and as he sat down he said and thank you for sending me to Iraq. He wanted to go, he wanted to go with the men, he was ready," said Coleman.

War brings controversy. The fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan have not been the exception, especially knowing that June was the deadliest month for us troops in Afghanistan since the war began.

"I think we have to end it properly, not cut and run like we did in Vietnam, not throw them to the dogs," said Vietnam veteran Steve Bosshard.

This memorial also includes the name of the latest soldier from Santa Rosa to die in the most recent conflict. Ryan James Connolly died on June 24th in Afghanistan.

Sonoma County has lost 12 soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Wallace Stewart fought in Korea. He says it's hard to understand what goes on in combat.

"They can be told, they can see moves, but in the final analysis, unless you've been there by your buddy when he died, you'll never know," said Stewart.


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