One of the Carmichael Recreation and Park District’s most unique parks, Patriots Park, will add one more name to its Wall of Honor during a special ceremony on Saturday, Nov. 6 at 10 a.m.
Although the park is only three years old, many who are familiar with this 3.68-acre neighborhood park know that it is far from an ordinary recreation and leisure spot.
At the center of the park sits a 20-foot-long by 3-foot-tall by 3-foot-wide concrete and stone wall with much more significance than its durable materials.
Recognized as the Wall of Honor, the wall is so significant, in fact, that when the park was dedicated on Nov. 15, 2008, an entirely separate dedication was held on the same day to present the Wall of Honor and its first inductees to the public.
The park, which is located just east of the Carmichael-Fair Oaks border at 6827 Palm Avenue, off Dewey Drive, features the latest in park designs with walking paths, a playground, a picnic area, a basketball court and a butterfly garden.
But it is the Wall of Honor, which is the park’s most treasured feature.
The wall features 11 plaques with the names of local heroes, who gave their lives serving their country or community.
The Nov. 6 ceremony will honor former Navy pilot, Lt. j.g. David A. Warne, who was lost at sea at the age of 27 on Jan. 12, 1991 during a nighttime training mission over the Mediterranean Sea.
Tracy Kerth, recreation services manager of the Carmichael Recreation and Park District, explained the background of the creation of the Wall of Honor.
“We were trying to name the park and the community came forward and they said, ‘Well, how about we name it after this young man (the late Army Sgt. Ronald L. Coffelt), who grew up in the area and his family still lives here.’ But then we started thinking about all of our heroes. So, then we thought about naming (the park) Patriots Park and having a Wall of Honor and that would include not only military people, but it would include firefighters and police and CHP and Sheriffs and civilians who died in the line of duty.”
With the creation of the wall, such local heroes who resided, worked in or served the community within the park district boundaries could be honored as part of this lasting monument.
This honor is available to those who showed acts of courage beginning as early as 1945, when the district was established.
Nominations for candidates for the Wall of Honor are accepted until July 31 every year.
Official nomination forms are available through the district’s Web site www.carmichaelpark.com or by calling (916) 485-5322 to arrange for a form to be mailed via the United States Postal Service.
The first inductees
The first inductees to have their names placed on plaques and displayed on the Wall of Honor were:: As previously mentioned, Coffelt was the inspiration for the Wall of Honor.
Army Sgt. Ronald L. Coffelt
Raised within walking distance from the park, Coffelt, a graduate of Del Campo High School, died on July 19, 2007 from wounds that he suffered as a result of a bomb that exploded near him in Baghdad.
Army Spc. Raymond Nigel Spencer, Jr.: Spencer, who was raised in Carmichael and excelled in hockey during his youth, was killed less than a month prior to Coffelt’s death when insurgents attacked his unit with an improvised explosive device and small arms fire.
Sheriff Deputies Kevin Patrick Blount and Joseph Kievernagel: Blount and Kievernagel, who worked as partners in the North Division serving Carmichael, lost their lives during a burglary call on July 15, 2005, when the engine of the helicopter they were flying failed and the helicopter crashed.
CHP Officer Ronald Eugene Davis: Following his graduation from the California Highway Patrol academy, Davis moved his family from Carmichael to Barstow.
Davis died at the age of 25 when he was driving about 100 miles per hour while en route to a traffic accident.
When a pair of motorists failed to heed his siren, Davis, in order to avoid a collision, died when he drove off the highway into the desert.
Army 1st Lt. Robert Scott Byrnes: A graduate of La Sierra High School, Byrnes, a former lifeguard and swimming instructor at Carmichael Park, lost his life in Vietnam.
Firefighter Dean Wesley Rhoades: An El Camino High School graduate, Rhoades died shortly after fighting a house fire in Carmichael on Jan. 6, 1981.
The second inductees
Last year, plaques for the following inductees were also added to the wall:
Army Spc. James Edward Schlottman: An El Camino High School graduate, Schlottman was killed by a booby trap while on patrol in Vietnam on Aug. 22, 1967.
Sgt. Brian E. Dunlap: A graduate of Del Campo High School, Dunlap was killed at the age of 38 on Sept. 24, 2005, when a roadside bomb exploded during his patrol in northern Baghdad.
Sgt. Larry Morford: The courage of Morford is recognized in the book, “The Least Beastly,” by Bernard “Burn” Loeffke.
Within a memorial tribute to Morford in this book, it is explained that despite being a young man who did not believe in war as a method of resolving disputes, Morford felt that he could not stay at home knowing that other young men were fighting for his country.
On Feb. 12, 1970, Morford, a graduate of La Sierra High School, was killed at the age of 21 in Vietnam while serving in his patrol just a few days prior to when he was scheduled to return home.
Cpt. Olin E. Gilbert, Jr.: While flying an F-106 in a training mission at Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida on June 11, 1968, Gilbert was met with the plane’s sudden mechanical difficulties.
Instead of parachuting to safety, Gilbert, a Vietnam veteran, piloted the plane out to sea and away from coastline homes in Port St. Joe, Fla.
This act of heroism cost Gilbert his life, but in turn saved the lives of many other people.
A special honor for a local heroUnlike the previous two Wall of Honor ceremonies, the upcoming Nov. 6 ceremony will honor only one inductee.
This year’s inductee, David A. Warne, formerly resided in Fair Oaks and graduated from Sacramento State University in 1985 with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering.
David, who enjoyed skiing and fishing and briefly worked at Aerojet prior to entering active duty in the Navy in 1987, completed his pilot training two years later and was assigned as an F/A-18 pilot.
Although David has a marker in the Arlington National Cemetery, since his body was never recovered after he was lost at sea, it was not possible for his remains to be buried in a local cemetery.
Because of this fact, David’s family and some of his closest friends, who will be attending the event, are additionally appreciative that David will have his name officially placed on the Wall of Honor.
David’s mother, Betty Warne, recently expressed her appreciation that her son will have a local memorial to honor him.
“We don’t have the grave marker here in the area for him, so that’s really nice to have (David’s name on the Wall of Honor) here in this area,” Betty said.
David’s father, Evans Warne, a retired Air Force colonel, pilot and Vietnam veteran, also expressed his appreciation that his son’s name will be placed on the wall.
“(Having David honored on the wall) means an awful lot to me,” Evans said. “It means that somebody is recognizing his service and that whoever goes to that park will realize what a sacrifice he made and recognize what he did.”
Lee Ann Yarber, administrative analyst of the park district, said that the ceremony, which will also be attended by park district advisory board members and Sacramento County District 3 Supervisor Susan Peters, is a great opportunity for the community to show appreciation for David, as well as other heroes of the Wall of Honor.
“We absolutely invite all the community to come out – anybody who ever lost a loved one or anybody who wants to pay honor to the family of the fallen hero,” Yarber said. “It’s just a nice ceremony, so come on out and honor our local heroes.”