Colorado State University - Pueblo to renovate, expand Southeast Asia Memorial
PUEBLO – With the help of numerous veterans’ organizations, Colorado State University-Pueblo has announced a fundraising campaign to renovate and expand the Southeast Asia Memorial on campus, originally dedicated in 1969 to honor Pueblo County and then Southern Colorado State College soldiers who lost their lives in the Vietnam/Southeast Asia conflict.
The expanded memorial will be re-dedicated as part of the citywide Veterans Day celebration at11 a.m. on Friday, Nov. 11, 2011. The original monument, constructed at a cost of $6,000, was dedicated in 1969. At the time, no flagpole existed on the relatively new Belmont campus.
The comprehensive restoration of the memorial was announced at a press conference Wednesday (August 24) by task force representatives that include members of city and county government, various veterans’ organizations and its council, CSU-Pueblo student government, campus ROTC, Veterans Upward Bound, and the University Alumni Association. The expanded memorial will include the 623 names of all Colorado service men and women who were killed in the war. This expansion reflects the growth of the University to include students, not just from Pueblo County, but the region, the state, and the nation.
In May, 1967, the Pueblo Junior Chamber of Commerce (also known as the Jaycees) sought and gained the cooperation of SCSC college officials and its student body to raise funds from the private sector to construct a 30-square foot granite and concrete structure to give recognition to the service men and women who died in the Vietnam conflict. CSU-Pueblo was chosen as the site because of the future growth expected at the institution and to guarantee the memorial a permanent location. The monument, which is located at the northeast corner of the University Library, provides a base for a 80-foot-high flagpole and now is inscribed with the names of 70 Pueblo County men and women -- nine of whom were SCSC alumni -- from all branches of service who lost their lives. More than 58,000 Americans died in that conflict. The names of the fallen are engraved on two stone tablets, including the age, branch of service, and the date of death.
Following the restoration and expansion of the memorial, estimated at just over $86,000, the new commemorative black granite stone slabs will be engraved with gold lettering of the names of the fallen by service branch. The memorial also will become more accessible, with contemplative benches on the outer periphery as well as the addition of flora and lighting.
“We hope the memorial will be seen as a place to connect to the historical events of this country and to those who sacrificed it all on our behalf,” said Task Force Chair Dr. Luis Valerio, a former CSU-Pueblo administrator and current member of the CSU-Pueblo Alumni Association. “Given this community’s patriotism and tag as the “Home of Heroes,” the memorial is an appropriate tribute to our fallen citizens.
A major fundraising event for the memorial renovation will be sponsored by the Marine Corps League #1376 on Friday, Sept. 30 in the Occhiato University Center Ballroom on the CSU-Pueblo campus, and partially underwritten by CSU-Pueblo Auxiliary Services and Chartwells. Lt. Governor Joseph Garcia will be the keynote speaker and Air Force Colonel Jeff Chostner will serve as Master of Ceremonies at the event. Tickets are available for $35 each or a corporate table of six for $500 by calling Gail Dehaven, 240-6157, or the CSU-Pueblo Foundation at 549-2380.
Members of the Southeast Asia Memorial Task Force include:
- Dr. Luis Valerio, Chair, former University administrator, current alumni board member
- Jeff Chostner, Pueblo County Commissioner and CSU-Pueblo Foundation Trustee
- Leroy Garcia, Pueblo City Councilman
- John Saenz, President, Pueblo Veterans Council
- Ryan Schuler, CSU-Pueblo student and President of Student Veterans of America Chapter
- Chris Beltran, Director, CSU-Pueblo Veterans Upward Bound
- Isaiah McGregory, President, CSU-Pueblo Associated Students’ Government
- Sgt. First Class Andrei Williamson, US Army ROTC Representative to CSU-Pueblo
- CSU-Pueblo Interim President Julio Leon
- Jerry Pino (Commandant), John Coulson (Jr. Vice Commandant), Miguel Garcia (Adjutant), and Gail DeHaven (Paymaster), Marine Corps League Home of Heroes Detachment 1376
- DenaSue Potestio, CEO, CSU-Pueblo Foundation
- John Barnosky and Debbie Proctor, CSU-Pueblo Facilities
- Tracy Samora, Director, CSU-Pueblo Alumni Relations
- Cora Zaletel, Director, CSU-Pueblo External Affairs