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Memorial Day event honors humanity of fallen heroes3 min read

May 31, 2016

Marine Sgt. David Martinez stands by the podium under a shelter to keep the sun out of his face, looking out over the seats before him.

“The whole purpose of this event is to gain awareness of Memorial Day and what it means to veterans,” said Martinez, the vice president of the Student Veterans Association. “We’re trying to show the student body that there are a lot of veterans on campus.”

The SVA held their annual Memorial Day service in the Main Quad at De Anza College Wednesday, May 25. Martinez helped organize the event, which is meant to commemorate Memorial Day by honoring the men and women who have died while serving in the United States military.

Martinez served in the United States Marine Corps, where he did two tours in Iraq and one in Indonesia for tsunami relief in 2005. Martinez said he remembers the tsunami relief mission vividly.

“It was just a captain and the four of us,” Martinez said. “We were literally the first boots on the ground in Indonesia. There was a lot to do, most of the islands had been destroyed.

“We want to show everyone it’s not just about war. They think it’s about fighting, that the military is this huge force that goes out and fights all the time, but we do more than fight. We go around the world and help people, too.”

Spc. Donald Tietjen served in the United States Army as a medic and did one tour each in Iraq and Afghanistan and is now the treasurer for the SVA.

Veterans Day honors all veterans who served in the armed forces, but Memorial Day is special because it is meant to remember those who are not with us today.”

— Donald Tietjen

“This is all about honoring the fallen,” Tietjen said. “Veterans Day honors all veterans who served in the armed forces, but Memorial Day is special because it is meant to remember those who are not with us today.”

Several senior staff from De Anza College attended the event, as well as a color guard from the Marine Corps South San Jose recruiting station.

Retired Maj. Gen. Robert Ostenberg, U.S. Army, served for three decades. Ostenberg’s served during the Vietnam War, after his older brother had completed three tours.

He served through the next two decades in relative peace until 9/11, after which he toured the Middle East, deploying to places like Iraq, Afghanistan and Uzbekistan.

Like Martinez and Tietjen, Ostenberg said he is at the event to bring awareness to the holiday.

“It’s about honoring those that we served with, and those that we lost,” he said. “It’s about keeping the fond memories of your fallen brothers and sisters, and remembering the things they did.”

Before his retirement in 2008, Ostenberg said he lost a lot of soldiers in Iraq.

“One of the last people we lost was this young woman from American Samoa,” Ostenberg said. “Her brother was also in the Army, and she had a sister in the air force, and all three of them were in Iraq together.”

“They were able to have a reunion and see each other, before she was killed by an IED [roadside bomb] while riding in her vehicle.”

Boatswain’s Mate 2nd Class Angelique Barboa, a US Navy reservist and the SVA President, spoke at the event and introduced Ostenberg.

“The Student Veterans Association works toward bringing all veterans together,” Barboa said. “We are here for you, we are here to network and to help out the community.”

Stacy Cook, the president of Student Services, took the time to thank the student veterans after Barboa’s address.

“We are honoring those men and women who passed away in the line of duty,” Cook said. “We need to take the time to recognize those who serve because they shape this country in so many ways.”

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