Santa Barbara County Education Office Honors Six War Veterans with Retroactive High School Diplomas
Source: Santa Barbara County Office of Education
Six veterans who were unable to finish high school - due to their military service or internment in a relocation camp - received their high school diplomas on Thursday, April 7, 2022, at a special graduation ceremony held by the Santa Barbara County Education Office (SBCEO).
California Education Code authorizes the granting of retroactive high school diplomas to eligible veterans whose education was interrupted by military service in World War II, the Korean War, or the Vietnam War, or by internment in a relocation camp during World War II.
At this milestone event, County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Susan Salcido and members of the Santa Barbara County Board of Education presented six veterans with diplomas, four of which were awarded posthumously through family members who received the diploma on behalf of their deceased father or grandfather.
The diploma recipients were:
Marcos Ramirez Carrillo: represented by his daughters Molly Carrillo-Walkers and Julia Cory
Jesus Torres Jr.: represented by his daughter, Ana Torres
Shukichi Hokedo: represented by his son, Paul Hokedo
Modesto T. Cardenas: represented by his granddaughter Destiny Trigueros
More than 200 people attended, including large cheering sections filled with family and friends of each of the diploma recipients as well as countywide school leaders, public and law enforcement officials, veterans' groups, and representatives from the Vandenberg Space Force Base led by Colonel Christopher Sheffield. Also in attendance were former State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell, former Santa Barbara County Superintendent of Schools Bill Cirone, County Sheriff Bill Brown, Deputy District Attorney John Savrnoch, and County Supervisors Das Williams, Joan Hartmann, and Steve Lavagnino.
Dr. Susan Salcido told the audience: “After the tremendous service you’ve given, and the sacrifices you’ve made, it is now our moment to provide a tangible acknowledgment of our gratitude in your honor, and in honor of your legacies. To those of you who are here on behalf of a veteran who is no longer with us, we are so deeply grateful that you have chosen to be part of this milestone occasion in tribute to your loved one. Today, we are recognizing individuals who have served our country and then went on to serve their communities. Their life’s work reflects the very attributes represented by a high school diploma. That’s why it is essential that we acknowledge their achievements and hear and remember their stories - which have impacted us all.”
The event included the UCSB ROTC Color Guard, the La Colina Junior High School Jazz Band, the Santa Barbara Bagpipe and Drum Corps, the Adelfos Ensemble, and San Marcos High School sophomore saxophonist, Eliel Pozos Martinez. Special comments were delivered by guest speaker, Dr. Roger Welt, a Vietnam veteran and retired Allan Hancock College Vice President of Student Affairs. Dr. Welt served as a Vietnam War Combat Correspondent and went on to receive three Bronze Star Medals, an Army Commendation Medal, and a Combat Infantryman Badge.
This is the second year that SBCEO has organized the Operation Recognition program and graduation ceremony. To date, SBCEO has awarded 13 veterans from our county with retroactive high school diplomas.