Thanks to all who participated in or attended our Benicia Memorial Day ceremony on May 29 at the historic Benicia Military Cemetery, sponsored by the Benicia Historical Society. _ We estimate nearly 500 people attended as we honored those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our nation, as well as all veterans and those currently serving. _ This year we dedicated our ceremony to local World War II veterans, some of whom attended. They included Harold J. Bray, Robert Hitchcock, Peter Caggiano Sr., Elmer (Kim) Nelson, Rodney (Rod) Plaisted, Ethelbert Morgan Sr., Martin Porper, Joseph Bruggman and William S. Emes Sr.
The Benicia Military Cemetery is the oldest U.S. military cemetery in the Pacific States, with graves dating to the 1840s. Many of the graves are marked “Unknown” as the names have been lost over time. It is on the National Register of Historic Places.
We are grateful for the U.S. Coast Guard San Francisco Station and Travis AFB fly-overs which were performed during the ceremony.
We were honored to have Colonel Lawrence T. Brown, Garrison Commander, Presidio of Monterey, as our keynote speaker. The Military Oath of Enlistment was recited by CSM Roberto O. Marshall, Presidio of Monterey. The color guard was provided by VFW Post 3928, American Legion Post 101, VFW Auxiliary, and Sons of the American Legion. Music was provided by the Diablo Regional Concert Band, directed by Cora Martens. A 21 gun salute was performed by the Military History Preservation Society. The Pledge of Allegiance was recited by Girl Scouts Troop 20625 with leader, Linda Von Studnitz, and poetry was recited by Johanna Ely, Benicia Poet Laureate. The Master of Ceremonies was Navy Master Chief Larry J. Miller (Ret), President of the Benicia Historical Society, who also provided a prayer.
Taps and Reprise were performed by Don Golden, American Legion, Diablo Regional Concert Band, and Thomas Martinez, Monterey High School JrROTC. “Amazing Grace” was performed on bagpipes by Lloyd Christiansen. A wreath-laying ceremony was performed by Larry J. Miller, VFW Post 3928 Commander Pete Caggiano, American Legion Post 101 Commander Ed Heffernan, Ingeborg Junginger, Marie Hoffmann, Dorothy and Bill Patchell, Benicia Boy Scouts Troop 8, Jamie Vanier and “Midas” and German officers from the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey.
Set-up and take-down assist provide by Benicia Boy Scouts , Benicia Girl Scouts, Benicia Cub Scouts, Benicia High School’s Key Club, Dr. Tom Campbell, Jerry Hayes, Lionel Largaespada, Tim Miller, John Lovett, as well as Art Mayoff and Mike Arwine at the Clocktower, and others. Videography provided by Constance Beutel. Audio system provided by Eric Lam. Generator provided by Hertz.
Flower arrangements for the graves provided by the Law Offices of Dana Dean and “Sandra” with assist of Gretchen Burgess and the Benicia Girl Scouts for delivery and placement. Thanks to Digital Copy for working with us on the printed program. Equipment transportation through Hertz Rental with a donation from Hayes Supply. Thanks to the city of Benicia for lectern, seating and tables.
Program printing and refreshments provided with donations from Valero and the Benicia Historical Society. Donuts were from Vallejo Great Donuts, and coffee from First Street Cafe.
Parking and transportation assistance were provided by Amports personnel Denise McCoy, Isaak McCoy, Pat Mahoney and Jesse Sangha. SolTrans provided a free shuttle from City Park. Thanks to Alex Clarke for placement of street signs.
Publicity was provided by the Benicia Herald, Benicia Magazine, The Grapevine and Jack Wolf PR.
Special thanks to Kathren Vanier, Benicia Military Cemetery greenskeeper, for her tireless efforts to keep it the beautiful place it is. It has been called one of the most beautiful and well- maintained military cemeteries west of the Mississippi.
Thanks to the board members of the Benicia Historical Society , and others too numerous to mention for their help each year with the ceremony.
And thanks to Benicia’s veterans for your service to our country. At least one day each year, we pause to pay tribute to those who have made the ultimate sacrifice to preserve our way of life. We also honor all veterans and those currently serving our nation.
Please consider becoming a member of the Benicia Historical Society so that we can continue to bring events such as this to our historic town. You can go to our website at
beniciahistoricalsociety.org to view a video of this year’s Memorial Day ceremony, and to access a membership application.
Wally Stephens and Kerry Carney are event co-chairs for the Benicia Historical Society.