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Elk Grove Citizen

Community Honors Heroes

Nov 08, 2023 09:46AM ● By Susan Maxwell Skinner

Gold Star families and community leaders assemble at the Wall of Honor in Patriots Park, Fair Oaks. The monument commemorates law enforcers, firefighters and military heroes who died in service since the Carmichael Park District was formed. Photo by Susan Maxwell Skinner

CARMICHAEL, CA (MPG) - Gold Star families and community leaders gathered last Saturday to recall fallen heroes of nation and community. The Wall of Honor ceremony was observed at Patriots Park.

The reserve’s stone monument is dedicated to 15 local men – from military, police, CHP and firefighting ranks – who died in service during Carmichael Park District’s 60-year history. Their sacrifice unites surrounding neighborhoods each November. Plaques recall sacrifice from Vietnam War years until recent times.

“It seems this ceremony becomes more poignant and meaningful considering what we’re seeing in the world today,” noted County Supervisor and former CHP officer Rich Desmond. “Throughout my career, I’ve come to see (first responders) as cut from the same cloth. They all come from the same place; they care about the community and want to keep it safe.”

Patriots Park was developed during the supervisory term of Susan Peters. Now retired, Peters joined the annual ceremony. “This land used to be an empty lot, covered in trash,” she recalled. “We sold part of it and used the cash to build this park and dedicate a Wall or Honor to patriots. It warms my heart to see everyone here today, carrying on an important tradition.”

Gold Star families and community leaders assemble at the Wall of Honor in Patriots Park Fair Oaks

 Sacramento Sheriff’s Honor Guard officers begin Wall of honor observances. Photo by Susan Maxwell Skinner

Assemblyman Josh Hoover noted that heroes commemorated by the wall were relatives, friends and neighbors of those gathered. “We honor them as people who ran toward danger,” he said. “It’s paramount that we keep their memory alive.”

Congressman Ami Bera’s representative Matthew Ceccato (a Purple Heart recipient for Operation Iraqi Freedom) brought first-hand perspective to remembrance. “After patrolling the streets of Baghdad, we sat in our safe houses and told stories about heroes such as these,” he remembered.

Quoting American novelist Willa Cather, Ceccato called Patriots Park honorees ‘mortal, but unconquerable.’

“These bronze plaques will be here long after we have gone,” said Ceccato. “And these heroes will remain unconquerable.”

The Wall of Honor commemorates the following men:


Deputy Robert French
CHP Officer Ronald E. Davis
Army Specialist James E. Schlottman
Army Lieutenant Robert S. Byrnes
Air force Captain Olin E. Gilbert Jr
Army Sergeant Larry H. Morford
Firefighter Dean W. Rhoades
Navy pilot Lieutenant J. G. David A Warne
Marine and firefighter Sergeant Brian E. Dunlap.
Deputies Kevin P. Blount and Joseph M. Kievernagel
Army Sergeant Ronald L. Coffelt
Army Specialist Raymond Nigel. Spencer Jr
Deputy Danny Oliver
Corporal Bruce R. Verhoeven
Deputy Patrick Blount

Anyone may visit the Patriots Park Wall of Honor at 6827 Palm Ave, Fair Oaks.