David Mendez

Vietnam memorial signs rise again

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by David Mendez

A monument to a lost generation was restored last month, little more than a mile up Pacific Coast Highway from where a well-known memorial once stood.

In late July, signs marking Redondo Beach’s stretch of Pacific Coast Highway as the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Highway were installed on light poles along both northbound and southbound PCH, between Beryl and Carnelian streets.

The two signs, installed by Caltrans, replaced the monument sign formerly installed at the corner of PCH and Knob Hill Avenue, as part of an effort by the Vietnam Veterans of America’s South Bay Chapter.

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“They’ve only been up a short time, going on two weeks, but we’re thrilled about it,” said Steve Crecy, a member of the Vietnam Veterans of America’s South Bay chapter.

Tom Lasser, a familiar face in the South Bay for his veterans advocacy, was on hand for the original sign’s installation in 2003. He was still an active Lt. Colonel in the United States Army when he was asked to participate in the sign’s installation.

“I’m a life member of the Vietnam Veterans of America; they wanted someone in uniform to come make comments, and I did,” Lasser said.

That sign stood until this year when developers for The Kensington senior-living complex pulled the sign down.

“They saved the old sign, and our chapter is in possession of it,” Crecy said. “That sign was special…it’s in our storage right now, but it was kind of them to save it.”

Crecy, chair of the Hermosa Beach Veterans Memorial Sundial Committee, went to work to replace the sign, making calls and gathering allies.

Ted Semaan, Redondo Beach’s Director of Public Works, helped come up with the solution after driving with VVA members along PCH, searching for possible locations. After determining the membership wanted a location central to Redondo Beach and realizing that there’s not much available ground area for a monument, Semaan suggested pole-mounting. The block of PCH between Beryl and Carnelian streets was chosen soon after, and Caltrans got to work.

Crecy sees the signs as a reflection of work done by VVA-South Bay President Jerry Yamamoto, who helped lead the original lobbying effort to dedicate Pacific Coast Highway throughout Los Angeles County as a memorial highway.

But the sign’s true purpose, Crecy said, is to keep the fallen service members of the Vietnam War in the public’s memory.

“Over 58,000 soldiers, sailors and airmen were killed in Vietnam,” Crecy said. “One is a tragedy, and to the parents of that one, it’s the end of the world. Multiply that out. We want to keep that memory alive, and this is our effort.

“We’re here to honor the love of country that those people exhibited, and that’s our focus,” Crecy said.

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