Salute to Patriots Honors Clovis’ Future Service Members

Clovis East High School held their military signing day event at the school’s amphitheater on May 4, 2021. (Ron Webb/CUSD)

The Clovis Veterans Memorial District (CVMD) honored Clovis Unified High School students committing to future military careers at its annual Salute to Patriots event on Wednesday, May 5.

Service members from the Army, Navy, Marines, Coast Guard, Air Force and Space X military branches shared their experiences and detailed the journeys the recent graduates will face once they enter the service.

The service members spoke about the importance of hard work, sacrifice and family support.

Marine Corps Capt. Justin Bush, who is stationed in Lemoore, shared the importance of having a family support system.

“I’ll be the first one to say…it takes a village to do this. There’s been a number of times where I could not do what I do without the help of my…support system,” Bush said.

Air Force Col. Chris Austin of the 144th Fighter Wing seconded the family support sentiment speaking on the importance of communication with family throughout the military process.

“The best advice I have for family members out there is to be present…I was stationed most of my career overseas,” Austin said. “That occasional text, an occasional letter, meant all the world to me. And when I was deployed, those care packages really meant a lot.”

A total of 51 2021 graduates from Buchanan, Clovis North, Clovis East, Clovis West, Clovis, Gateway and Sierra High Schools will now be embarking on a grueling journey away from home, many for the first time.

“Along the way, you’re going to find that there are going to be some tough spots,” said Army Col. David Hall. “For some, basic training is going to be a tremendous challenge. Others are going to have challenges when they go on that first deployment.”

Each service member detailed how challenging the student’s experience in the military will be but said that their experience in the service benefits them long after they transition out of the military.

“Embrace each assignment you are given because you just never know how much you will learn,” said Coast Guard Chief Diana Murphy. “Stay steadfast in your mission and use each day to better yourself for the future, embrace every moment and cherish the memories you make.”

Clovis Unified School District Superintendent Dr. Eimer O’Farrell shared her disappointment that this year’s event couldn’t be held in person but expressed her gratitude toward each student’s commitment to the military.

“Each of our graduates participating…have walked a unique path to graduation. And along the way, you have learned lessons of perseverance and courage,” Dr. O’Farrell said. “Life requires all of us to have these traits…My hope for each of you is that the past year has shown that you are ready to embrace your futures.”

Each member of the Clovis City Council also shared their gratitude for the student’s military commitment.

CVMD CEO Lorenzo Rios finished the event with a call to action from the Clovis community to continue to show its support toward the armed forces.

“As a community, we must uphold our commitment to the members of our armed forces to honor their sacrifice and to look after their families,” Rios said. “We answer the call because we know what we defend. We remember that freedom is not free.”

Included below are the list of commitments and the dates that their commitment events will take place.

Clovis East High School – May 4 at 1 p.m. in the CE Amphitheater
Jon Brigham Alonzo, Army
Gabriel Bartra, Army National Guard
Nicholas Bressoud, Army
Madison Elgin, Air Force ROTC
Hermione Ford, Air Force
Nicholas Ganuelas, Marine Corps
Noah Hash, Marine Corps
Macaydan Hawkins, Army
Eddie Alvarez Lopez, Marine Corps
Aiden Martin, Marine Corps
Claudia Melanie Martinez, Army
Maci Mcalister, Army
David Pimentel, Navy
Elila Roy, Army
Ariel Salcedo, Marine Corps
Ethan Scholz, Marine Corps
Jacob Tafoya, Air Force
Elizabeth Vang, Navy
Jacob Vang, Army National Guard

Buchanan High School – May 12 at 5 p.m. in BHS Outdoor Theater
Kyle Davis, Navy
Troy Foster, Navy
Austin Gillen, West Point
Raymond Lopez, West Point
Christian Navarrette, Naval ROTC Marine Option
Kaelyn Nicholas, Marine Corps
Keaton Olmos, Navy
George Ruiz, Naval Academy
Cameron Simonson, Coast Guard
Benjamin Waddill, Navy

Clovis High School – May 17 at 1 p.m. in the CHS Amphitheater
Katarina Ansaldi, Marine Corps
Julius Casanova, Army
Devan Hickingbottom, Marine Corps
Jacob Moraga, Army
Christian Pritchett, Air Force
Sarah VanNoy, Coast Guard
Jordan Westwood, Marine Corps

Clovis North High School – May 17 at 2:30 p.m. in the CN Amphitheater
Cole Brunson, Air Force
Johnathan Capps, Navy
Ryan Franco, West Point
Michael Jacot, Marine Corps
Caleb Shin, Air Force

Clovis West High School – Date TBD*, in the CW Amphitheater
Miguel Cortez, Army
Jocelyn Coyle, Marine Corps
Karina Dorn, Marine Corps
Anthony Ecker, Air Force
Charlie Garcia, National Guard
Angelica King, Air Force
Timothy Ocampo, Navy
Dillon Riley, TBD*
Samuel Sehm, Marine Corps
Isaac Ybarra, TBD*

Anthony De Leon is a journalist who started his career in 2017, covering sports for the Fresno City College Rampage, earning his Associate Degree in the process. He then moved on to Fresno State, working for The Collegian serving as Sports Editor, Managing Editor and Editor-in-Chief. He earned his Bachelor’s Degree in print journalism. In August, he will begin attending Reynold’s School of Journalism Master’s program at the University of Nevada, Reno.