While many Americans placed flowers and flags on soldiers’ graves on May 26, military veterans inside San Quentin also honored American soldiers who had lost their lives serving their country.
“I believe the observance of Memorial Day is important, even in prison,” said Honor Guard Team Leader Craig Johnson. “It’s our duty to remember all of those who have died while in the service of the United States. All of these men and women are my brothers and sisters.”
As noon approached, spectators watched more than two dozen inmate/veterans assemble and file into a military formation on San Quentin’s Lower Yard. The ribbons and awards these inmate/veterans earned stood out against their prison blues.
At high noon, the Vietnam Veterans Group of San Quentin Honor Guard paraded the American and POW/MIA flags across the Lower Yard. They halted in front of a crowd of spectators. Next, bugler and veteran Larry “Popeye” Faison took his position. Johnson’s call to “Present Arms” cut through the sounds of sports and table games across the yard. The inmate/veterans saluted as the POW/MIA flag dropped to a 45-degree angle while the American flag stood tall.
When Popeye finished “Taps,” Johnson called “Order Arms,” and marched the Honor Guard back across the field. The formation was dismissed and the ceremony concluded.
As of 2012, 1,295,547 American soldiers have died during wartimes, according to PBS News and the World Almanac.
Inmate/veterans who took part in the ceremony:
Craig R. Johnson, 57; two years duty; U.S. Navy
Lawson Beavers, 78; five years duty; U.S. Army
Michael Elmore, 59; two years duty; U.S. Marine Corps
Chris Schuhmacher, 41; two years duty; U.S. Air Force
David Tarvin, 60; three years duty; U.S. Navy
Wesley Eisiminger, 67; three years duty; U.S. Army
Gary Cooper, 65; four years duty; U.S. Marine Corps
Andre Richardson, 47; two years duty; U.S. Air Force
Harry Terry, 76; 20 years duty; U.S. Navy
Larry Faison, 63; two years duty; U.S. Army
Ed Bowman, 74; 12 years duty; U.S. Marine Corps
Harry Barton, 70; four years duty; U.S. Navy
Kenneth Goodlow, 65; two years duty; U.S. Army
Emery Milligan, 64; 20 years duty; U.S. Marine Corps
James Foster, 69; four years duty; U.S. Navy
Sam Gaskins, 68; 12 years duty; U.S. Army
Mauro Gumpal, 57; six years duty; U.S. Marine Corps
Don Dawson, 75; six years duty; U.S. Navy
Marvin Harris, 60; two years, six months duty; U.S. Army
Christopher Anderson, 51 (years of duty unknown); U.S. Marine Corps
Harry Olson, 75; six years duty; U.S. Navy
Martin, J.D., 65; 12 years duty; U.S. Army
Bernard Werner, 49; three years duty; U.S. Marine Corps
Pedro Espinal, 60; four years duty; U.S. Navy
Henry L. Poe, 60; six years duty; U.S. Army
Malcolm Jones, 55 (years duty unknown); U.S. Navy
Garvin E. Robinson, 59 (years duty unknown); U.S. Army
Nicola Bucci, 41; (years duty unknown) U.S. Navy
If an incarcerated veteran wants to learn more about VHV or if they or their family may qualify for additional benefits, please contact:
Mary Donovan, Executive Director of VHV
PO BOX 432
San Quentin, CA 94964
The VHV website is veteranshealingveterans.org