First published in the June 2 print issue of the Pasadena Outlook.
Photos by Mary Emily Myers
On Memorial Day afternoon, more than 100 patriots gathered to honor Greater Pasadena’s 11 “Hometown Heroes” as well as all others who made the ultimate sacrifice. The event was held at the Enduring Heroes Memorial Soldier in Pasadena’s Defenders Park.
Mayor Victor Gordo presided with former Mayors Bill Bogaard and Terry Tornek and current Vice Mayor Andy Wilson. Local Gold Star family members appeared deeply moved by the warmth, spirit and size of this impromptu tribute.
The five families present were Marine Second Lt. JP Blecksmith’s brother Alex and nephew Henry, Marine Lance Cpl. Dion Whitley’s mother Deborah, Marine Lance Cpl. Rogelio Ramirez’s mother Irene, Green Beret Staff Sgt. Scott Studenmund’s parents Jaynie and Woody, and Army Sgt. Joseph Stifter’s parents Regina and Fred.
Other guests included Pasadena Police Chief Jason Clawson and the Rev. Michael Roffina, who offered a prayer.
Enduring Heroes founder Shelly Lowe and co-founders Jordi Stringfellow and Jaynie Studenmund and sculptor Christopher Slatoff also took part in the program.
Guests bought bouquets and a bagpiper played a medley, including “Amazing Grace.”
The other six of 11 “Hometown Heroes” honored on the memorial (whose families were unable to attend because they no longer live locally) are Army First Lt. Todd Bryant, Marine Lance Cpl. Sergio Escobar, Army Reserve Spc. Carla Stewart, Army Spc. Adam Rosema, Army Pvt. First Class Cory Hiltz, and Army Spc. William Gilbert.