Mike Hiles, Special to Valley News
The Soboba Band of Luiseño Indians Youth Council wanted to be sure that military veterans buried at the Soboba Cemetery were properly honored for their service to America by hosting a Memorial Day Ceremony, Monday, May 25.
In preparation for the event, the youth placed flags, Thursday, May 21, on the graves of more than 50 veterans who are buried there. Because of the uncertainty of whether the annual event could held amid the coronavirus concerns, last minute cleaning and maintenance was entrusted to the Soboba Public Works Department. In past years, the youth have cleaned as they placed flags.
Roo Briones said it’s important for her to participate in these activities because the future is up to the young and they need to learn what to do and how to do it.
“It is good for the tribe to recognize our veterans for their contributions,” Briones, 14, said.
Leah Lopez said that many veterans were injured or died while serving the country, and she felts it was a good thing that the tribe honor them.
Soboba Youth Council co-coordinator Andy Silvas is also director of Soboba Parks and Recreation. His department and members of the Soboba Fire Department were at the cemetery to help youth locate the veterans’ graves and make sure the flags were secure at each one.
“This event is about those who have fallen in service to our country to secure the freedoms we have today,” Silvas said. “We can’t forget them.”
Before the Soboba Youth Council took over the annual project about four years ago, Soboba Elder Marian Chacon said she and her family and friends volunteered their time to do it. She attended a youth council meeting about four years ago and suggested they take it over.
“I can’t tell you how proud I am of our youth,” Chacon said. “My mom and aunt started this many years ago, and I used to help them. When they passed, I continued to do it on my own for about 10 or 15 years. I’m so glad the youth council is doing such a great job with it.”
Jeremiah Ramos said he was proud to personally place flags on his grandfathers’ graves – one who fought in World War I and the other in World War II. He said honoring the veterans with flags and the ceremony on Memorial Day shows the love and respect for veterans that they deserve.
“Our veterans need to be noticed for what they did in protecting our country,” Iyana Briones said, who has been the youth council’s chair for three years. “They stood up for us and some gave their lives for us, so we need to show we care and that we noticed.”
About 50 people assembled around the stone and granite Veteran’s Memorial at the north end of the cemetery, May 25. The Rev. Earl Henley of St. Joseph Mission at Soboba offered prayers for the veterans, the nation and all its citizens.
A memorial roll call of veteran tribal veterans and non-tribal veterans buried at Soboba Cemetery was read by youth council members Briones and Emma Organ. After the 15-minute ceremony, guests were invited to a drive-thru brunch at the sports complex hosted by Soboba Youth Council. To-go boxes were filled and taken to each vehicle that arrived at the east side of the gymnasium.
In memory and honor of those who served:
Soboba Tribal veterans
U.S. Air Force: Louis Vivanco
U.S. Women’s Air Force: Gloria Cozart and Jessie M. Gilmore
U.S. Army: M.J. Apapas, Daniel Arres, Leonard Arrietta, Ralph C. Arrietta, Robert Arrietta, Robert Bentiste, Peter F. Castello, Benny C. Helms Sr., Reginald P. Helms, Romaldo A. Helms, Martin Hurtado, Joe John Lala, Tiefielo F. Lugo, Danny Navarro, David Navarro, Ernest Salgado Sr., Albert Silvas, Allynn Silvas, Daniel Silvas, Frank “Chico” Silvas, Joe “Jody” Silvas, Eloy Soza and Frank Soza
U.S. Marine Corps: Larry C. Boniface, Paul Boniface, Paul A. Resvaloso, Prudencio Resvaloso, William P. Soza, John V. Valdez and Carmel P. Valenzuella
U.S. Navy: Norbit Arres, Theodore P. Arres, Marcus E. Mojado and Michael Soza
U.S. Air Force: Bruce Cozart, Philip Rodriguez and James Walker
U.S. Army: Eugene Arenas, Miguel Briones, Refugio R. Garcia Jr., Orvin D. Gilmore, Ben Largo, Arthur R. Lopez Sr., Mariano S. Largo, Leonard Lubo, Senon Lubo, Richard Macy, Peter O. Morillo, Pio Morillo, James P. Navarro and Mariano Tortez
U.S. Navy: Foster Hurtado Sr., Andrew Jackson and Fred Miranda Sr.