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Memorial Day at Mojave Cemetery

Let's take a look at the recent Memorial Day event at Mojave Cemetery.

Paul Holzer, general manager of the East Kern Cemetery District said, "Remembering those who gave their all is why we are here today." He thanked the many volunteers who helped with the ceremony and Travis Mullins for the preparation of the cemetery grounds.

Holzer said, "Tami Kelly organized Mojave High School students to help place American Flags on each grave of a military veteran who served our country. The Mojave Community Queens helped with the placement of flags, as well. Miss Mojave - Rhalene Joaquin; Teen Miss Mojave-Reyanna Williams; Junior Miss Mojave – Jenna Cambaliza; Young Miss Mojave-Penelope Galindo; Little Miss Mojave – Miah Ramirez and Tiny Miss Mojave-Selena Ramirez. We placed 516 American Flags on graves of veterans who served America in the military."

Holzer introduced Victor Yaw, Chairman, East Kern Cemetery District Board of Trustees to give a welcome. Yaw said, "You are doing an important thing today simply by being here. You are not forgetting the sacrifices made for our freedoms.... We are remembering the fallen this weekend. We are remembering that someone put on that uniform and shed blood, someone is missing a child, a partner, a friend, a parent. Someone is gone. Someone stood on a foreign shore and didn't come home."

Pastor Charles Wallis, Rosamond Assembly of God, U.S. Army Capt, Desert Storm/Desert Shield Veteran and Commander of the Rosamond High School Cadet Corps gave the Invocation and Air Force Veteran Tim Lomba led the Pledge of Allegiance and sang the National Anthem.

After reading heartfelt letters from State Senator Shannon Grove and Congressman/Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy, Holzer introduced Master Sgt. (ret.) David A. Robledo as keynote speaker.

When Robledo was 10 years old, he attended an Air Show at Edwards Air Force Base, and it there he decided he would join the U.S. Air Force. Robledo graduated La Puente High School in June 1976 and soon signed up with the Air Force. He served for 22 years as on Armament System Technician and obtained the rank of Master Sergeant. He served in the Gulf War and is now a Civil Servant at Edwards AFB where he supervises active-duty aircraft technicians that evaluate new aircraft system designs.

Robledo told everyone he was surprised he still fits into his uniform! He talked about his grandfather who served in the U.S. Navy during World War II. He was an orphan and was adopted at a young age. The girl he married had a similar background and was also adopted. They bonded having that in common.

His grandfather joined the Navy in October 1943 and was assigned to the first USS Midway, an Escort Carrier. Referred to as "Jeep carriers" or "baby flap tops" by the press, escort carriers were slow, lightly armored and had few defensive weapons. But they were also expert at hunting and killing enemy submarines, and exacted a heavy toll on Germany's U-boats.

USS Midway (CVE-63) was commissioned in 1943, was renamed St. Lo a year later and was sunk during the Battle of Leyte Gulf. Robledo said, "889 men were aboard the ship and 114 died. My grandfather survived and was rescued.

"I listened to his stories about the war and being in the military. He was discharged in 1945. He was my inspiration to serve in the U.S. military. I made it my goal to visit every place he had served, including, Saipan, Iwo Jima, and Okinawa.

"You could tell he was military by the way he walked and stood straight. He said that serving your country was not just a job, it was a calling.

"I now enjoy nurturing the young people I work with on a daily basis and share my grandfather's stories with them. 'Give your all and give your best,' is what my grandfather told me and I share that message with them.

"Image and character is important. Jesus told us in Scripture, 'There's no greater sacrifice than to lay down your life for another. Let's remember all of them today,'" Robledo said.

Mojave's Gold Star Mother, Hilaria Hannon was presented a bouquet of roses by Paul Holzer. Hannon's son, Marine Pfc. Fernando Hannon, 19, was killed in an explosion in Al Anbar Province in Iraq in 2004 while serving as a rifleman with the 1st Marine Division. Fernando was the fifth generation of his family to serve in the U.S. military.

Taps was played by a Rosamond High School Marching Band Trumpeter and the Rosamond High School Cadet Corps raised the American Flag from Half Staff to Full Staff at Noon.

Closing prayer was given by Pastor Charles Lowery of Heirs of Christ Church Mojave. Tim Lomba led everyone in singing "God Bless America."

Refreshments were provided by the Mojave seniors and coffee was donated by Starbucks.