Excelsior School Honors Our Veterans In Outstanding Memorial Day Service

Photos by Jim Nickerson

By Jim Nickerson

High Desert Daily

(Victorville)–On a sunny Friday morning, four parachutes appeared in the sky over a sports field behind Excelsior School on Bear Valley Road in Victorville. As they spiraled nearer, trailing smoke a black flag became evident trailing from one skydiver.

It was the POW/MIA flag, reminding the people watching that there are still those who have never returned from war. Jay Fregoso carried that flag. Not only a veteran of the U.S. Army, he is also a veteran of almost 2,500 jumps over 30 years.

And although you would not guess by looking at him, Jay is 71 years old. Captain of the Golden Stars Skydiving Team Eike Hohendahl is also a military veteran, having served in the U.S. Navy during the Vietnam War. He has been jumping for 26 years and has over 5,300 jumps to his credit. And he has another reason for remembering those who have fought and died for our liberty.

Eike and his family escaped from East Germany when he was only 11 years old. Rich Brooks, U.S. Army and Vietnam vet also proves that skydiving is not just a sport for the young. He is 67. Steve Bidd, the fourth member of the team has also been jumping for 30 years and is a veteran of not only the Marine Corps but the Air Force as well.

The Memorial Day Event, sponsored by Excelsior School was attended by close to 300 people, many of them veterans and families of fallen soldiers being honored by the students of Excelsior.

The Presentation of the Colors was handled dramatically by the U.S.M.C. Mounted Color Guard and the Excelsior Cadet Corps. The National Anthem was played by the VVC Brass Ensemble and the Excelsior Band and a flag was raised over the crowd from the ladder boom of a fire engine, courtesy of the San Bernardino Fire Department and the Victor Valley College Fire Technologies students.

Local governments were represented by keynote speaker San Bernardino County Supervisor Brad Mitzelfelt, Victorville Mayor Ryan McEachron and Apple Valley Mayor Pro-Tempore Barb Stanton as well as a representative from the office of State Senator Sharon Runner. Maj. Chris Christiansen, U.S.M.C. spoke about the last four Americans to die in Vietnam, followed by the presentation of plaques to the veterans and families. After the presentation, a bugler played taps and doves were released over the crowd.

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