Ceremony to honor soldiers’ final tribute
August 30, 2013
After about two years of planning, Gold Star Peak will officially be named in honor of the memory of local soldiers who were killed in combat.
A ceremony to commemorate the dedication will take place 11 a.m. Sept. 6 at Lakeview Commons in South Lake Tahoe.
Gold Star Peak is located between Mount Watson west of Brockway Summit on California State Route 267.
The idea for honoring the soldiers by naming a peak originated from U.S. Rep. Tom McClintock.
"Time does not heal the wounds borne by our Gold Star families," McClintock said in a news release, "… and we owe it to ourselves, our children and our nation to remember how precious is the freedom and peace their sacrifices have purchased."
The three local soldiers that will be honored are Pfc. Phillip Brandon Williams, 21, who was killed Oct. 9, 2006, by a sniper's bullet in Iraq; Sgt. Timothy Smith, 25, who died April 7, 2008, after his vehicle was hit by an improvised explosive device in Baghdad; and Spc. Garrett Fant, 21, died Sept. 26, 2011, after his unit was attacked with an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan.
"We were thinking for a long time about how to honor the families in town of the fallen soldiers," South Lake Tahoe Mayor Tom Davis said. "It's a small town, and we know all of them."
Plaques were given to the family members at the Aug. 20 South Lake Tahoe City Council meeting.
The name Gold Star Peak is based off of the National Gold Star Family Registry.
"It's been fantastic," Davis said. "We don't want the memory to ever die of those kids who died."
Blair Clark, American Legion Post 795 commander in South Lake Tahoe, will unveil the plaque with McClintock Sept. 6. Clark was a corporal in the U.S. Army.
"We had three (soldiers die), which is kind of high for a town our size," Clark said.
Clark said he originally thought it would take four to five years to get the name authorized.
"The guys around the legion have been very happy about it, and I'm still surprised where the process is at. It's tough to lose a son in combat, and this at least gives (the families) some place to go," Clark said. "This will honor (the soldiers) on the level they deserve."
Lisa Herron, Public Affairs Specialist U.S. Forest Service Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit, said the peak will be identified on the next Forest Service maps when they are published.
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