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Galt Herald

‘All of Them Are Heroes’

Jun 06, 2024 11:45AM ● By Matthew Malone

Justin Moe, left, great-grandson of local veteran Mike C. Lopez, takes part in a Memorial Day dove release with Galt-Arno Cemetery District Director Belinda Ellis. Photo by Matthew Malone

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GALT, CA (MPG) - The Galt-Arno Cemetery District highlighted two World War II veterans on May 27 at its annual Memorial Day observance.
The ceremony included remarks from multiple speakers, including cemetery district director Belinda Ellis and the Rev. Michael Dubé of Shepherd of the Valley Lutheran Church.
Galt Mayor Paul Sandhu said that Memorial Day “is a day to reflect on the importance of freedom and the values our soldiers fought and died for.”
Sandhu added that service members’ sacrifices should be remembered every day, not just on the last Monday in May.
One of the veterans to receive a tribute was Teodulo Fabiana. His daughter, Lucia Hearsum, read an account of Fabiana’s service in the Pacific theater of World War II. Hearsum said Fabiana ttraveled from the Philippines to the United States in 1939, at 23 years old. On Dec. 7, 1941, Japan attacked Pearl Harbor and hours later launched its invasion of the Philippines. Hearsum said Fabiana enlisted with the U.S. Army in Sacramento, in 1942.
Fabiana served in New Guinea and the Philippines, and completed his service in 1945, receiving multiple decorations.
“My father loved this country. He participated in voting and spoke about it at length. I recall my father had me sing ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ when I was a child at our residence,” Hearsum said.
Fabiana died on Nov. 30, 1980, at age 74. He received a posthumous Congressional Gold Medal in 2016, with the passage of a law honoring the Filipino veterans of World War II. In 2024, he received the Medal of Honor.
“My father would be proud of all he has been awarded by the United States of America, in life and in death,” Hearsum said. “I’m so proud of my father and so happy to be here today, honoring my father and all veterans. All of them are heroes. God bless America.” 
Mike C. Lopez’s life and service in the Second World War were recounted by his great-grandson, Justin Moe. Born in Las Vegas in 1914, to two Mexican immigrants, Lopez helped raise his siblings and worked in agriculture and mining. After the U.S. entered the war, Lopez was conscripted into the Army, leaving his pregnant wife as he began training, eventually becoming a combat engineer.
“According to surviving correspondence, Mike was an extremely gifted engineer in what he did due to his mining experience, not only being able to handle any power tool but also skilled in explosives,” Moe said.
Lopez served in operations in Sicily, southern Italy and southern France, before traveling north and eventually crossing the Rhine to attack the core of German industry.
Lopez died in 1989 from lung cancer.
“While Mike may not be with us anymore, his legacy continues to live on, not only as a virtue of work ethic and service but also fostering an appreciation for those who served in uniform, both now and in the past,” Moe said.
At the ceremony’s conclusion, Moe participated in a dove release.
Cosumnes Fire Chief Felipe Rodriguez spoke about those who lost their lives in military service. As a Navy reservist, he was deployed to Guantanamo Bay following the Sept. 11 attacks.
Rodriguez named three Galt service members killed in action: Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Rodney Martinez, Army Pfc. Charles Davis and Army Spc. Duane Paepke Jr., who died in 1967, 1968 and 1969, respectively, while serving in Vietnam.
Memorial Day “is a day to honor the valor and merit of the over 1.3 million young people who lost not only the life they were living but also lost the life they never had the opportunity to live,” Rodriguez said.
Chris Angle, a local veteran who works with the Department of Veterans Affairs, said Memorial Day is not about her but those who pledged to defend the country from “enemies both foreign and domestic” and fulfilled the promise with their lives.
“When they came to face the ultimate sacrifice, what was it that they were feeling? Was there a sense of fear? Was there a sense of unknown? Was there a sense of pride? I think they experienced all of it,” Angle said.
These service members “gave it all so we could enjoy moments like this and that is what Memorial Day is about,” he said.