District Attorney Dan Dow delivered the keynote address Monday in front of newly dedicated veterans memorial plaques in Cambria, as community members came together to honor those who have given their lives for their country.
Dow told the story of Cpl. Harold W. Roberts, who sacrificed his own life so his sergeant could escape a tank that was rapidly filling with water after being caught in a trap behind enemy lined during World War I. Roberts pushed Sgt. Virgil Morgan out of the only opening in the tank; by the time Morgan was able to pull Roberts out, he was dead.
Roberts was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor posthumously and, later, Camp Nacimiento was renamed Camp Roberts in his honor. It was the first time any Army installation had been named for an enlistee.
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Monday’s Memorial Day commemoration at the Cambria Veterans Memorial Building also featured the dedication of new bronze plaques as the finishing touches on the memorial in the corner of the parking lot. Greg Sanders, Terry Farrell and Mel McColloch, all of whom have been instrumental in raising money and community awareness to complete the memorial, performed the formal dedication.
County Supervisor Bruce Gibson presented certificates to young Cambria brothers Carlos and Kyle Plummer, who have produced a series of films honoring and spotlighting veterans.
And McColloch presented the Mel McColloch Merchant of the Year Award to Cambria Hardware owner Chuck McMillan. The award is presented annually to a local merchant who supports American Legion Post 432 and various community activities.
The ceremony concluded with bagpiper Ed Gallagher playing taps and the laying of the red memorial wreath by Walt and Doris Stacy. Master of ceremonies Dave Ehlers described Walt Stacy as probably the oldest Legion member in Cambria, and said Doris Stacy — a former Rosie the Riveter — had an even longer membership in the Legion Auxiliary.
Youths passed out American flags and poppies to the veterans in attendance, and Legion officers John Ehlers and John Angel called roll for the 10 local veterans who passed away in the past year to “post everlasting.”
A barbecue by the Sons of the American Legion followed Monday’s event.