Ripon’s American Legion and VFW paid tribute to 24 of its war dead on Memorial Day in conflicts from WWI to Iraq as the traditional bell clanged for each of them including three sets of twins who gave their lives for their country.
Past American Legion Commander Ernie Tyhurst read off the names as his wife Mary, representing the American Legion Auxiliary, pulled the honor bell’s cord as some two dozen Ripon residents stood silently under the shade of a large redwood tree remembering their lost family members.
Sgt. Clinton McCausland was the first to die in World War I after whom the Ripon Post 249 was named. He had just been elevated to the rank of sergeant when he was killed in battle.
The twins first to give their lives in World War II were the Haller brothers, James and William, followed by Carl and Viggo Peterson. The third set of twins died in the Korean Conflict, Norman and Orville Roesberry along with Arthur Freshour, Jr. Their names along with all who served from Ripon can be seen on the memorial wall in downtown Ripon.
World War II has the longest list of men long-revered by their Gold Star Families for an additional 14 who stood up for their Ripon community.
The remaining men who gave their lives for their country in World War II and for whom the bell tolled included Lymon Fulton, John Van Andel, Henry Bouma Jr., Raymond Clifton, Wayne Coe, John Harp, John Kamps, Radomir Kolak, Paul Madsen, Oscar Poelstra, John Smit, Richard Van Slyk and Harmon Tornga.
Giving their lives in Vietnam were George Coutrakis and Gary Van Tol. Coutrakis, 18, was the brother of Mrs. Helen Caetano. Joseph Perry was the only Riponite to die in Iraq.
Both entrances and drives were flanked with endless stands of American Flags leading to the center of the cemetery where the Memorial Day Service was held. The flag bearers represented the Ripon High School JROTC and led by Lt. Col. David Schmith who ordered the armed Color Guard bearers to post The Colors.