PRESIDIO OF MONTEREY, Calif. – Have you ever noticed the names featured prominently on buildings throughout the Presidio of Monterey or Ord Military Community and wondered who they were named for?
The U.S. Army’s method of paying tribute to an individual by naming buildings in their honor is called ‘memorialization’. Those who have been memorialized generally fall into two categories - those who gave their life in service to the nation, or those who passed on after retiring from their profoundly impactful military career.
“They were steadfast in their commitment to their country and served willingly, effectively and loyally. Finally, they gave all that one has to give—their lives,” said Col. Thomas G. Foster, III, former DLI Commandant on May 9, 1980.
The command has dedicated over thirty buildings to these individuals. Records from these memorializations are kept in files at the DLI Office of History. Each corresponding file contains photography and paperwork that detail the individual’s service, images and brochures from their dedication ceremonies and an array of historic documents.
In correspondence contained within these files, Brig. Gen. John Weckerling and Col. Kai Rasmussen, two men who helped form what we now call the Defense Language Institute, reflected on the achievements of George Nakamura, Frank Hachiya and Yukitaka Mizutari, three WWII linguists who died during the Pacific campaign and were posthumously awarded the Silver Star.
Paraphrasing Gen. Douglas MacArthur, Weckerling wrote, “Without the Japanese-American language specialists, victory in the southwest Pacific would have been immensely more difficult to achieve.”
In 1980, Nakamura, Hachiya and Mizutari each had a schoolhouse at DLI dedicated in their honor. Years later, Weckerling and Rasmussen were also memorialized with buildings on the Presidio of Monterey.
Some buildings are memorialized for veterans who perished in major events such as Staff Sgt. Kenneth R. Hobson during the 1998 embassy bombing in Nairobi, Kenya or Pfc. Charles H. Barker at the Battle of Pork Chop Hill. Others died in more intimate tragedies that touched the local community directly like Pfc. Robert E. Lewis who drowned in Carmel during an attempt to rescue a swimmer in distress, or Sgt. 1st Class Alfred H. Combs Jr. who grew up in Seaside but died in Vietnam in 1965.
During a memorialization on June 1, 1972 for Gunnery Sgt. George Percy Kendall, a DLI graduate who died in Vietnam, former DLI Commandant Col. Kibbey M Horne said, “It is appropriate that our buildings be named for our distinguished graduates who died while serving our country valiantly.”
Those who have been memorialized range in service from the cavalry days to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. By honoring these inspiring veterans with buildings and accompanying plaques highlighting their service, their legacies become a permanent feature of the Presidio and inspire future generations.
Through the Presidio of Monterey’s social media and monthly publication the ‘InBrief’ their stories are being shared alongside historic papers and photos. The archived materials featured in this series include period newspaper articles, personal correspondence between Gold Star families and former U.S. Presidents and images of family members visiting the buildings dedicated to their loved ones.
To learn more about the men and women who have been memorialized at the Presidio of Monterey and Ord Military Community follow our Facebook feed or visit the memorialization page on our website: https://home.army.mil/monterey/index.php/about/memorialization