In preparation for a Memorial Day ceremony at the Soboba Cemetery, members of the Soboba Youth Council and Soboba Tribal TANF joined with employees of Soboba Parks and Recreation and Soboba Fire Department to place flags at the graves of veterans buried there; It was also a clean-up effort on May 24th after recent storms overturned vases and left debris on the grounds of the cemetery that is located behind St. Joseph’s Catholic Church on Soboba Road.
Jennifer Garcia, who works as the Activities Director for parks and recreation, is also an advisor to the youth council members.
“This is my first year doing this,” said Soboba Youth Council President Iyana Briones, 14. “I think it’s important to do this for our veterans.” She carried some of the flags that were placed at the grave sites of veterans under the direction of Steve Lopez, Sports Director for Soboba Parks and Recreation, who had a map showing where each was located within the cemetery.
The Veteran’s Memorial located at the north end of the cemetery is “dedicated to the memory of the Soboba Band of Luiseño Indians and non-tribal members who gave their all for us.” It was washed down by Andrew Salgado, 12, and Arthur Lopez, a Recreation Aide who also placed flag holders in front of the monument that represented four branches of United States military service: Air Force, Army, Marine Corps and Navy.
At dawn on May 27th, members of the Soboba Fire Department quickly raised three flags to full-staff position and then slowly lowered them to half-staff where they remained from sunrise until the 11:00 a.m. ceremony that honored fallen servicemen and women. An American flag and flags of the state of California and the sovereign nation of the Soboba Band of Luiseño Indians were hoisted up the 25-foot tall flagpoles that stand tall behind the stone and granite Veterans Memorial.
About 50 people assembled around the Veteran’s Memorial where Father Earl Henley offered prayers for the veterans and had everyone join in the singing of “America (My Country, ‘Tis of Thee).”
A memorial roll call of veteran tribal veterans and non-tribal veterans buried at Soboba Cemetery was read by tribal members Marian Chacon and Kelli Hurtado, who also serves on Tribal Council.
At the conclusion of the ceremony, which followed a mass at St. Joseph’s, the flags were again raised to full staff in recognition of all the living military veterans who served the country; The flags remained flying until sunset.
Visitors were invited to gather at the Sports Complex gymnasium where the Soboba Youth Council served a hearty breakfast of scrambled eggs, bacon, country potatoes, biscuits and gravy, fruit, pastries, muffins, orange juice, water and coffee.
“My grandfather (Albert J. Silvas) served in World War I,” said Mary Margaret Masiel, of Valle Vista. Her mom, Barbara Guanche said they have a lot of relatives at Soboba. “It’s nice that they do this to honor our veterans after all that they did for us,” Guanche said.
Several guests, such as Alice Helms and her nieces, shared stories about relatives that served in the military and were remembered on this special day. Helms’ sister served in the WACS (Women’s Army Corps).
Jennifer Garcia said the group is all about giving back to the community and this was a great opportunity. About 10 members helped with the cleanup and returned for the ceremony and hosting of the breakfast. “These are all new members and I’m so proud of them for stepping up – I really appreciate them.”
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, 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, Frank Soza.
• U.S. Marine Corps: Larry C. Boniface, Paul Boniface, Paul A. Resvaloso, Prudencio Resvaloso, William Soza, John V. Valdez, Carmel P. Valenzuella.
• U.S. Navy: Norbit Arres, Theodore P. Arres, Marcus E. Mojado, Michael Soza.
• U.S. Air Force: Bruce Cozart, Philip Rodriguez, James Walker
• U.S. Army: Eugene Arenas, Miguel Briones, Refugio R. Garcia Jr., Orvin D. Gilmore, Ben Largo, Mariano S. Largo, Arthur R. Lopez Sr., Leonard Lubo, Senon Lubo, Richard F. Mazy, Peter Morillo, Pio Morillo, James Navarro, Mariano Tortez.
• U.S. Navy: Foster Hurtado Sr., Andrew Jackson, Fred Miranda Sr.