A long time coming, work begins on the Two Strike War Memorial.
By Mary O’KEEFE
On Tuesday morning, veterans Roy Allmon, Warren Spayth, Mike Baldwin and Steve Pierce stood on a small hill at Two Strike Park and watched the past fall to make way for the future.
The occasion was the demolition of the old wall at the park, the first step in establishing a new memorial for fallen local war heroes.
Workers from the Los Angeles County Transportation Dept. brought bulldozers and heavy equipment to Two Strike to jackhammer and demolish the old memorial wall while the veterans looked on.
“I have been so used to fundraising, it’s hard for me to imagine we are actually doing work,” Baldwin said.
Spayth reminisced on a project that began six years ago, one that was started with a family’s wish to honor their son, Nick Steinbacher, by adding his name to the wall.
Steinbacher, a Crescenta Valley High School graduate, was an Army specialist serving in Iraq in 2006 when he was killed in action. The memorial wall at Two Strike Park was not large enough to add Nick’s name or any other soldier’s name. Members of the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars wanted a memorial that could honor those who had given their life for their country.
The veteran’s groups had begun fundraising six years ago just as the economy was in a downturn, making it difficult to raise the funds needed. The group would always accept donations, but did not actively fundraise.
They did talk about some outreach effort.
“We were going to sell pins for $5 each,” Pierce recalled. That would have taken a very long time to raise the $70,000 needed to build a new memorial wall.
Although veterans support the community in many ways, including the Boy Scouts, it is not common for the group to go out into the community to ask for help. But in this case that is exactly what they did, and that’s when everything changed, said Baldwin.
“I think when I knew we were going to make it was when we started fundraising with the help of the CV Chamber, CV Town Council and CV Weekly,” Baldwin said. “And all the other groups that [joined].”
The group reached out to several organizations throughout the community including local schools. One of their first supporters was Lt. Col. Dave Worley and his CVHS JROTC cadets. They helped organize the 5K Memorial Run as well as other fundraisers.
Schools got involved as well with the most recent support coming from Rosemont Middle School’s California Junior Scholarship Federation that held a Walk for the Wall a few weeks ago.
“They raised $5,000,” Baldwin said.
Government officials showed their support, not only reaching into their own pockets like then-Assemblymember Anthony Portantino, State Senator Carol Liu, Assemblymember Mike Gatto and Congressman Adam Schiff, but raising awareness of the project. Liu reached out to Forest Lawn, which is donating all the bronze plaques as well as affixing them to the wall at a savings of over $10,000. Gatto contacted Home Depot for $5,000 in gift cards to purchase building materials, and the Assemblymember added $1,500 from his office.
“[Civic leader] Jean Maluccio has been with us since the beginning,” Spayth said, “[providing] the contacts with the [officials] and the [Los Angeles County] Parks and Recreation.”
“We had so much support from the L.A. County Parks and Rec. Without them we couldn’t do this,” Baldwin said.
Locally, the support grew with Bonners Equipment Rental donating cement, Kiwanis and the Lions clubs donating funds. Fellow veteran Andy Gero and his family donated two flagpoles that will be placed at the wall.
And that is just a few of those in the community who have generously donated funds.
“They all started to join us for fundraisers,” Baldwin said.
The veterans are just $5,000 away from their goal, close enough to start the project.
The new memorial will have room for names of those CV residents who gave their life for their country. The names have been submitted to the Two Strike Park Memorial Committee. Families are grateful that the sacrifice made will not be forgotten.
On Tuesday, it was about those the veterans fundraised for. Allmon, camera in hand, walked around the old wall, watching every move the workers made. Of course, being the geologist buff that he is, Allmon also had to take at least one piece of the stone wall.
“I never thought this day would happen,” he said.
Construction on the new Two Strike Park Memorial will begin immediately.
For information on the wall or to donate visit www.twostrikememorial.org.