For 16 years, the San Diego State War Memorial has stood a silent, dedicated watch throughout the campus. Etched on its three smoothly polished granite faces are the names of 228 former Aztecs that have fallen in the name of duty. On Friday, the names of six more fallen Aztecs were unveiled during the 16th annual Memorial Wreath-Laying Ceremony on Aztec Green.
The memorial is a 25-foot obelisk made of white granite and designed by former art professor, Jesus Dominguez. The obelisk has three sides and is broken and jagged at the top, symbolizing untimely death. SDSU is one of few campuses in the country with a memorial honoring those who attended a university and lost their lives in military conflict. The War Memorial was dedicated in 1996 and was funded by the SDSU Alumni Association’s Veteran’s War Memorial Committee.
Rear Adm. Dixon R. Smith, commander of Navy Regioin Southwest, was the keynote speaker. Also in attendance was former SDSU President Stephen Weber and SDSU President Elliot Hirshman.
SDSU Alumni Association President Bill Earley spoke of the importance of remembering our fallen Aztecs.
“Our alumni are heroes,” Earley said. “Heroes, plain and simple. We value and salute their sacrifice.”
The unveiled names of the fallen Aztecs included Florence Bacong Choe, Justin L. O’Donohoe and
Thomas E. Retzer who died while serving in Afghanistan; Oscar Jimenez and Andrew D. LaMont who lost their lives while serving in Iraq.
A special tribute was paid to U.S. Air Force veteran Robert Harvey who died on Oct. 31, 1952, after his plane went down while returning from a mission in Korea.
It’s because of Harvey’s daughter, and 1971 SDSU alumna Carlynne Allbee, that Harvey’s name was etched on the monument Friday.
While reading a newsletter last spring, Allbee came across a reference to the campus War Memorial and wondered why her father’s name was not on the monument.
Harvey was a part-time SDSU student who never graduated. His job as a San Diego police officer prevented him from studying full-time.
Allbee made it her mission to see that her father’s name be engraved on the War Memorial. In June, Allbee contacted the Alumni Association and asked if her father’s name could be placed on the monument. Today, the name can be seen carved into the granite of the white monolith.
“This is recognizing him and my mother because my mom raised three kids on her own,” Allbee said.
Allbee was five when her father died. Michele, Allbee’s sister, was 2 and Clyde, her brother, was born the day Harvey died.
“If it weren’t for her, we wouldn’t be here,” Allbee said, with tears welling in her eyes and her father’s pilot wings pinned to her shirt. “They didn’t forget us. They just found us.”