High School Memorials Project
Apr 03, 2017 02:15PM
● By Elena Hutslar
The family of Pfc Benjamin B. Tollefson surround a memorial at a dedication to him at Berean Christian High School where he graduated in 2005.
In September 2004, Loretta Masnada read that a young Marine, Mick Bekowsky, a Concord High School (CHS) graduate, had died in combat in Iraq. Her older son had graduated from CHS, and her younger son was a current student there. “At the time of reading about Mick, I felt that something should be done at the school to honor this young man,” said Loretta. Little did Loretta know at the time that her younger son would enlist in the Marine Corps. She has since become a Care Package Coordinator for the Contra Costa Blue Star Moms, and her son, SSgt. Anthony Noble, remains an active duty Marine.
Twelve years after reading about Mick, Loretta met his mother, Joan Bekowsky. It was then that Loretta finally decided it was time to do something to memorialize Mick and not just think about it. Loretta explains, “I discussed this with Carol Prell, the president of Contra Costa Blue Star Moms. Together we decided to start this new project, High School Memorials, and got it sponsored by the CC Blue Star Moms, CA 20.” The goal is to place a granite memorial at each high school where a former student died in combat in Iraq or Afghanistan. In discussing this with members of the military, Loretta and Carol were informed that they had to limit who could be honored with a memorial, so it is limited to those who died in combat. “Tragic as other deaths are, we are unable to include those who died in training accidents or by natural causes, criminal activity, or suicide. We simply don't have the means to locate them all or the funds to create a much larger memorial to include all.” These high school memorials will include 17 fallen warriors at 12 high schools in the club’s region.
Loretta is very pleased and proud to say they were finally able to dedicate a memorial for Mick Bekowsky at Concord High on November 9, 2016. They dedicated their second memorial at Berean High for Pfc Benjamin B. Tollefson on March 15. Pfc Tollefson was killed in Iraq on December 31, 2008. They will be dedicating a memorial in honor of Marine Corps LCpl. Erick J. Hodges at Mt. Diablo High on May 24, 2017. “Three down, nine to go.” says Loretta. The remaining nine high schools covered in the CC Blue Star Moms region are: Antioch High, Benicia High, Clayton Valley Charter, College Park, Olympic, De La Salle, Las Lomas, Liberty and Ygnacio Valley.
The CC Blue Star Moms are very proud to be able to bring this honor and remembrance to reality so that generations to come will know of the sacrifices that were made for their freedoms.
The cost for each memorial is $5,000. You can help Contra Costa Blue Star Moms accomplish their goal by sending a check made out to “CCBSM” to: Contra Costa Blue Star Moms, P.O. Box 6379, Concord, CA 94524. Please write "High School Memorials" in the memo area. Or donate by credit card at gofundme.com/23ta7d84.
The Contra Costa Blue Star Moms are a 501(c)(3) non-profit charitable group, and all donations are tax deductible.