Alpine unveils memorial to Vietnam veterans
Washoes were among the first men called in the Douglas County draft for World War I.
When the draft began on June 5, 1917, Washoes Joe Mack and George Dutchy were at the top of the list, despite the fact they weren’t considered United States citizens.
Two of Dutchy’s relatives are among the 90 Alpine County veterans listed who’d served in the United States’ armed forces.
On Tuesday, Hung A Lel Ti Chairman Irvin Jim Jr. spoke at the dedication of a five-mile stretch of Highway 88 from the California state line to veterans of the Vietnam War.
“One of every four native people served compared with one in 12 in the general population,” he said. “American Indians served in every war over the past 200 years, and have enlisted in greater numbers per capita than any ethnic group.”
He said 90 percent of the Indians who served in the Vietnam War were volunteers.
“Throughout Indian Country, the men and women who served in the armed forces are among the most honored members of our community,” he said. “We honor our Vietnam veterans on this stretch of highway that runs through the southern portion of our Washoe homeland.”
California Department of Transportation District 10 Director Dan McElhinney credited Alpine County resident Arnold Rakow for motivating the effort to rename the highway.
Rakow was in the Army from 1968 to 1971 and served with the Corps of Engineers in Vietnam.
He was escorted by Katherine Rakow, who serves on the Alpine County Board of Supervisors.
Alpine County Supervisors passed a resolution in 2017 that was taken up by the California Legislature.
The resolution was introduced “as a way to honor residents who served during the Vietnam War and their families.”
The resolution recognized Alpine Washoe and other veterans who served in the war.
“A large number of Alpine County citizens who served in Vietnam were members of the Washoe Tribe and grew up and attended school in Woodfords in the 1960s,” the Alpine resolution read.
Marine and Alpine County Supervisor Don Jardine grew up in Alpine County and said he signed up with four of his classmates, who were all Washoe.
“Some lived in the most basic conditions,” he said. “Living in homes without running water or electricity, and yet they stepped forward in the highest traditions. Where ever they were sent they did their best, along with all the veterans.”
A sign listed 90 Alpine County residents who’d served in four wars that occurred in the 20th Century, including World Wars I and II, the Korean Conflict and the Vietnam War.