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Loomis remembers veterans

Del Oro High Memorial Day ceremony honors those who have served
By: Joyia Emard, Loomis News Staff Writer
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Current Del Oro High School students weren’t even born when two young Loomis soldiers died in Vietnam. Gary Holsclaw and Daniel Flansaas, both of Loomis, were killed within two weeks of each other in July of 1967. Flansaas had just turned 20 and Holsclaw was only 19 years old. Their names, listed on a Web site for the Vietnam Memorial Wall in Washington D.C., brought the cold reality of war home for Del Oro students. Nine years ago, Del Oro vice principal Jeff Tooker was an English teacher and his students, who were juniors, were reading a powerful novel called “The Things They Carried,” about the Vietnam War. “They didn’t comprehend what it was really all about. Then we found the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Web site and typed in ‘Loomis’ under the hometown. Gary’s and Dan’s names were found,” Tooker said. “You could just see it in their eyes that it became real for them,” he said of his students’ response. The students then found old yearbook photos of Holsclaw, who was on the honor roll, played football and ran track at Del Oro. “Gary loved Del Oro. He’s still giving to Del Oro today,” Tooker said. According to Tooker, his students were so moved by their discoveries that they wanted to create a memorial to the soldiers and to all who had served their country. “The kids pulled money out of their own pockets to build the monument in the stadium,” he said. The students decided that their monument needed a dedication and they involved the local American Legion members and created the first Memorial Day ceremony at Del Oro. Tooker said his students made a photo collage of the fallen soldiers and retyped letters Holsclaw sent home to his family. They wrote original poetry and arranged to have the American flag delivered by helicopter. Tooker said he figured the Memorial Day ceremony was a one-time event until the following spring when his former students approached him about doing it again. “They were seniors and they came back and wanted to do it,” he said. Tooker said that after the second year, planning the ceremony was a senior project before becoming an event organized by the Wings class. This year, Del Oro sophomore Breanna Skeens, 15, is chairing the 30-minute event and will serve as the announcer. She said they expect almost 400 people to attend. “The ceremony honors those who served their country – past, present and future,” she said. The students plan to honor those who served by continuing the traditions established by those first students organizers. At 9:02 a.m., on Monday, May 25, a Placer County Sheriff’s helicopter will deliver the flag and members of the American Legion will conduct a flag ceremony. Members of Boy Scouts of America Troop 12 and Cub Scout Pack 851 will be on hand. Original student poetry and a student- written song by senior Ryan Raynal are included in the program along with the singing of the national anthem by members of the school concert choir. Senior Rusty Webster will play taps. Fuzzy Jarnagin, commander of the American Legion Post 775, encourages former and active military members to attend in uniform. “Everyone is patriotic enough to attend. The ceremony honors those who made the U.S. free and what it is today,” he said. WHAT'S HAPPENING Del Oro Memorial Day Ceremony 9 a.m., Monday, May 25 Del Oro High School Stadium Features: Helicopter delivery of American flag Flag ceremony by American Legion Original poems and songs by Del Oro students Refreshments