By Chris Furguson
On Veterans Day, more than a thousand veterans, residents and visitors alike gathered at the former “rose garden” area of Brawley’s North Plaza for the unveiling of a Wall of Honor for Brawley Vets.
The ceremony also included members of the Naval Air Facility-El Centro’s Color Guard, a ten-bell salute with a 21-gun salute and a fly-by featuring Royal Navy helicopters.
Brawley veterans from as far as South Carolina and beyond arrived in the north county city to take part in the festivities.
Alfred Campbell, a Pearl Harbor survivor currently living in Alpine and a Brawley graduate in 1938, said he was pleased to see the monument in the city.
“It’s wonderful to see the sacrifices of so many Brawley residents honored today,” said Campbell.
Other veterans from World War II included Donald A Woelke, an Army Air Corps member who graduated from BUHS in 1942 and traveled from South Carolina to be at the unveiling, and Orville Sullivan, another Air Corpsman.
Among those also in attendance included Mayor Ryan Kelley, who spoke to the assembled crowd, along with the rest of the Brawley City Council, and Assemblyman Manuel Perez, who is a member of the California Assembly Committee on Veterans Affairs.
The ceremony began with a presentation by the NAF-El Centro’s color guard and the pledge of allegiance by Ray Downs singing of the national anthem by Sandra Taylor.
This was followed by an invocation by Efrain Bautista of St. Margaret Mary’s Church in Brawley.
Members of the Wall Committee were also given recognition.
Special flags were presented to local veterans as well, including one promised to be delivered once it had flown over the Capitol building in Washington D.C., courtesy of Congressman Bob Filner.
After a pair of songs by local singing group Noteworthy, a wreath was placed near the memorial.
At the eleventh hour, a ten bell salute was rung by Navy Chief Christopher Hisel and a twenty-one gun salute was fired by soldiers at the Naval Air Facility base in El Centro.
After the salutes, a pair of British Apache Helicopters flown by members of the Royal Navy stationed at NAF-El Centro soared overhead.
Appearances by the Brawley Cattle Call Queen’s Court along with a special performance by the BUHS Varsity Cheerleaders also added some local flair to the festivities.
Currently, there are 740 names registered for placement on the wall. To qualify for placement on the wall, you must be a Brawley resident or have attended Brawley Union High School for at least one year. There is a fee to have a name placed on the monument.
For more information about the Wall of Honor, including how to get a serviceman or woman’s name on the monument, contact Karin Morgan at the Brawley Parks and Recreation. The number is (760) 344-5675.
By Chris Furguson