SANTA BARBARA, Calif. -- The Santa Barbara High School Alumni Association invited alumni veterans who served in previous wars to walk during the Santa Barbara High 2013 graduation ceremony.
Five veterans will be participating in the ceremony Thursday at 6:00 p.m. All of the veterans were high school students who answered the their country's call to duty during World War II and missed their tradition of walking down the hill at Peabody Stadium to accept their high school diploma, said Tim Putz of the Santa Barbara High Alumni Association.
The veterans will be honored members of the Class of 2013.
Julio Araluce was scheduled to graduate in 1943 but joined the US Army and participated in the Battle of Normandy. Putz says Araluce was one of the soldiers who liberated Fossenburg Concentration Camp and Mr. Araluce's daughter, Elizabeth Mason will be accepting his diploma in his honor.
Robert Benedetto was scheduled to graduate in1943 and served in the US Army and was assigned to the Headquarters Detachment 803rd Replacement Battalion, infantry. He was stationed in the Aleutian Islands to protect the US mainland from the Japanese invasion. Benedetto was a heavy equipment operator of the Private First Class. He received the Good Conduct, ATO, APTO and WWII Victory medals.
Paul Lopez was supposed to graduate with the class of 1944. He joined the Navy and fought in World War II. Lopez was assigned to USS Maryland as a 20 millimeter anti-aircraft gunner's mate. Putz said Lopez was in the battle invasion of the Marshall Islands and the invasion of Saipan and Tinian in the Mariana Islands. He was also in the Battle of Peleliu and Battle of Leyte Gulf in the Phillipines. He also served as a Navy reservist during the Korean War in the Marshall Islands.
Albert Ramirez, also known as "Abby" was expected to graduate with the class of 1944 but left high school in the 10th grade to join the Navy and serve in the war. He was a 17-year old First Class Seaman who was assigned to the USS DuPage and was stationed in the Philippine Islands.
The fifth veteran to walk for the 2013 graduation is Gilbert W. Ramirez, who was scheduled to graduate with the class of 1945. Ramirez joined the Navy in 1945 and served aboard an oiler stationed near Enewetak in the Marshall Islands. He worked on the oiler fueled ships that were going to and from the United States.