With the assistance of the U.S. Forest Service Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit and a determined committee, an unnamed peak on the North Shore of the Lake Tahoe Basin has been renamed “Gold Star Peak” in honor of soldiers from the area that paid the ultimate price in Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation Enduring Freedom, and the War on Terrorism. A ceremony to dedicate Gold Star Peak will be held at 11 a.m. on Friday, Sept. 6, at Lakeview Commons in South Lake Tahoe.
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U.S. Rep. Tom McClintock, 4th District of California, had a vision of commemorating local soldiers who died while in combat defending the United States.
“Time does not heal the wounds borne by our Gold Star families. For them, every day is the day that the casualty officer came to call. We owe it to those families to honor what Lincoln called ‘the cherished memory of the loved and the lost.’ We owe it to these fallen heroes, as Shakespeare said, to see that their ‘story shall the good man teach his son.’ And we owe it to ourselves, our children and our nation to remember how precious is the freedom and peace their sacrifices have purchased,” Congressman McClintock said.
In January, after effort by members of the city of South Lake Tahoe, El Dorado and Placer counties, local American Legion Post 795, and the U.S. Forest Service, the California Board of Geographic Names recommended “Gold Star Peak” for approval to the U.S. Board on Geographic Names.
“The U.S. Forest Service is honored to contribute to this significant community effort,” said Nancy Gibson, Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit forest supervisor. “Gold Star Peak will be an enduring monument to these young soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice for our nation.”
“I can’t think of a better way to honor our fallen soldiers from South Lake Tahoe, along with the support of local committee members, than to have this permanent memorial at Lakeview Commons,” said South Lake Tahoe Mayor Tom Davis.
Gold Star Peak, located on the North Shore of Lake Tahoe between Mt. Watson and Martis Peak, lies on National Forest System land shared by the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit, the Tahoe National Forest, and private land owned by Sierra Pacific Industries. The peak’s name, Gold Star, comes from the Gold Star lapel pin that was established by an Act of Congress in 1947 to identify next of kin of service members killed in combat.
Gold Star Peak will honor the following soldiers killed in action from the Lake Tahoe Basin:
Pfc. Phillip Brandon Williams, 21, was killed October 9, 2006 by a sniper’s bullet in Iraq; and
Sgt. Timothy M. Smith, 25, died April 7, 2008 after his vehicle was hit by an improvised explosive device in Baghdad; and
Spc. Garrett Fant, 21, died Sept. 26, 2011 after his unit was attacked with an improvised explosive device in Helmand province of Afghanistan.
A bronze memorial plaque commemorating Gold Star Peak will be unveiled on September 6, 2013, at Lakeview Commons near the intersection of U.S. Highway 50 and Lakeview Avenue in South Lake Tahoe, Calif. The public is invited to attend the ceremony, which will include remarks from U.S. Rep. McClintock, Forest Supervisor Nancy Gibson, and South Lake Tahoe Mayor Tom Davis.