VFW Post 3903 Chaplain Fabiano Montiso offered an opening prayer at the Memorial Day ceremony on Monday outside the historic courthouse in Richmond.
“As we gather to honor and pay respects to our comrades who have departed this life, grant that we shall appreciate and treasure the freedom that is our gift and our heritage and that we may never forget the great price at which it was purchased for all of us,” Montiso prayed.
The lifelong Roman Catholic, a veteran of the Vietnam War, was speaking to a small audience gathered to pay tribute to the county’s servicemen who died in service to their country.
But inwardly, he was also paying respects to comrades he served with in combat, and who perished fighting for their country.
After Monday’s ceremony, Montiso recalled his fallen comrades who died in what he describes as a “two-day battle of life and death.”
He was a young Army sergeant at the time and his company had come under withering enemy fire in a valley in Vietnam.
“The firefight was so furious I didn’t even have time to say a prayer. We were too busy fighting just to stay alive,” recalled Montiso of Rosenberg. “Ninety percent of our outfit was already dead. The commanding officer had been killed in the first 10 minutes and it was all I could do to round up those of us who were still alive and keep us in the fight.”
Montiso, wounded in the leg, and the rest of his company were extracted late the next day.
He says he lost a lot of good buddies during the two-day battle.
Montiso remembered them, and more than 100 other Fort Bend County servicemen who paid the ultimate price for the freedoms Americans cherish today.
Guest speaker Sandra Dorr, whose late husband was a veteran, also paid tribute to the nation’s fallen.
“I would like to thank everyone for joining us today to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice in service to this great county, state and nation,” she said. “These men and women who dedicated their lives for our freedom should never be forgotten. Their courage and selflessness should never be forgotten.”
She said the flag does not fly because the wind moves it. “It flies with the last breath of each soldier who died protecting it,” she said.
Former Richmond Mayor Evelyn Moore took a moment to thank the veterans in attendance.
“I am much honored to be here to witness your patriotism and sacrifice,” she said. “It is because of you that we have the great benefits of home, family, community, religion, and our bountiful and rich country.”
Wreaths were placed in front of a granite memorial listing the names of the Fort Bend County military personnel who died in times of war.
Representing the Disabled American Veterans were Robert Miller and Rick Alford. Representing American Legion Post 271 were Tim Krugh and Roy Clark. Representing VFW Post 3903 were Ken Dillon and Vladimir Hidrovoalban. Representing American Legion Post 567 in Richmond were Post Commander Sonny Hackstedt and grandson Trace Scheffer, 12.
The names of the fallen and the conflicts in which they made the ultimate sacrifice are:
World War 1: Charles H. Acre, Henry Barak, Kiley Brazee, Steven Bulanek, Primus Brown, Arthur Dehart, Paul Dittman, Joe J. Fojtik, Benjamin Goldstein, Lonnie Green, Verge Griffin, William Herd, George Jefferson, Jack Maeding, Fred P. Maraker, Rudolph Meyer, Angel Perez, Maston N. Porter, Barney S. Pryor, Arthur G. Schultz and Louis Simon
World War II: Eddie Abramski, Frank J. Andel, Arthur J. Berkman, Joe Boston, Vince J. Brdecka, Herman M. Brenner, Milton Brenner, Allen Brooks, Edwin D. Burwell, Frank Cangelosi, Rosendo Cardenas, Manuel P. Carrillo, Joe B. Chabisek, Ignac W. Chernosek, Sidney Curtis, Charlie Draemer, Van Fowler, Raymond Freemond, George E. Fields, John T. Fields, Eman Gaidosek, Arturo Garcia, Frederick Gerken, Warren Goss, Fritz Haar, Fred Hatton, G.A. Haynes, Valente P. Hernandez, Earl G. Hill, Earl W. Holtkamp, Roland L. Hughes, Edwin V. Janicek, Levy S. Johnson, Albert E. Jurca, Alvin J. Kadlecek, Otto Kristynik, Alfred S. Lubojacky, Ivan Mazoch, Gary R. McAlister, Deroy L. Miller, John L. Mutina, Arcadio R. Narvarez, Archie L. Nett, Alfons J. Orsak, William H. Palat, Lazaro L. Pena, Charlie W. Pfuhl, Marcellino Presa, John H. Reynolds, Milburn H. Roeche, Theodore H. Roper, Louis J. Sbrusch, Alfred C. Schuelke, Earl Sizer, Howard B. Scruggs, Henry J. Simpson, Alfred F. Smith, Douglas E. G. Smith Jr., Alifonso C. Soto, David L. Stach, Pete Stallings, Arnold B. Stavinoha, Milton Steffen, Hoyt M. Stewart, W. W. Sutherland Jr., Louis Vadek, Weldon R. Voight, Ike Webb Jr., Thomas J. Williams, William Wright, Printis R. Young, Clement C. Zavodny and Lonnie H. Ziesemer.
Korean War: Lawrence Barron, Billy Borodiak, Ralph Gardner, Gonzalo T. Pachua, Macron Sanders Jr., Gene Smith, Lynn B. Whitsett and Macario Mireles.
Vietnam War: Rudy Becerra, Dixie C. Berger, Herman A. Clay Jr., Richard M. Corrales, Gary L. Cox, Michael Crossley, Manuel Deluna Jr., Joe D. Fendley, Antonio Flores Jr., Richard W. Hibbler, Jackie Hurley, Arthur Medina, Pedro M. Ortiz, Eugene Dominguez Ramon, Arthur Samaniego, Adolph W. Tajahman and Michael Wakefield.
Panama: Isaac Rodriguez III.
Operation Iraqi Freedom/Enduring Freedom: Daniel Caballero, Jose Guereca Jr., Andrew Houghton, Joseph G. Harris, Christopher Kermin, Dan Nguyen, Forrest John Waterbury, Joshua Ward, James Tijerina, David McCormick, Garrett Gamble, Timothy Cole Jr. and Brandon Abbott Meyer.
Belinda Macik attended Monday’s ceremony. Two of her relatives have their names inscribed on the memorial, her great-uncle Charles Draemer, who was killed during WWII and her uncle Gene Smith, who died in Korea.
Also in attendance Monday were D-Day veteran Bob Fagan.
After the wreath-laying presentation, the Fort Bend County Sheriff’s Honor Guard performed a 21-gun salute and Montiso performed Taps on a trumpet.
Needville Boy Scout troop 291 helped with the ceremony’s set up and take down.