Thirteen Grover Cleveland High School alumni were recognized for their service and ultimate sacrifice during the Vietnam War at the high school Thursday night.
Bill Reynolds, The Signal’s Director of Veteran Affairs and 1964 graduate of the Reseda high school, presented the school with two plaques honoring alumni killed in action during the Vietnam War and alumni who have served in the military.
The two plaques were given to the high school’s Assistant Principal Robert Rakauskas during Cleveland High School’s 17th annual Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) Awards Ceremony.
“We never forget our fallen,” said Reynolds, who also served in Vietnam War.
Two years ago, Reynolds was inspired to honor and recognize the service of his classmate and fellow platoon member Phil Ferro, who graduated from the high school in 1964 and was killed in action in Vietnam on July 11, 1967.
Reynolds was there the day Ferro lost his life, along with four of his other platoon members, during a recon mission near one of Vietnam’s rice patty fields.
“I’ve never forgotten him and those other guys,” Reynolds said. “I got a hold of a friend of mine, Pat O’Doul and I sprung the ide on him and he liked it a lot.”
Using Facebook posts and VirtualWall.org, the two worked together to research the number of Cleveland High School alumni who were killed in action during the Vietnam War.
“We were stunned that we lost 13,” Reynolds said.
Shortly after, Reynolds designed the plaques and began seeking community donations to fund the project.
“We received $40 donations from 11 people included Phil’s sister, Diane Ferro Hawley,” Reynolds said.
Two weeks ago, Reynolds and O’Doul received permission to add the plaques to the high school and present them to school officials during the ROTC Awards Ceremony.
“We went last night and observed the ROTC awards ceremony,” Reynolds said. “I was so proud of these kids because they just exuded and exemplified patriotism…they appreciated honoring our fallen warriors.”
Now, the committee at the high school is working to determine where they want to securely install the plaques on campus.
Reynolds said the goal is to install them at an event before Memorial Day.
On Twitter as @_ChristinaCox_