NORTH FORK – When the community gathers to celebrate Memorial Day at the Military Wall at Gas ‘n Stuff, there will be more service men and women to honor than in years past.
Augie Capuchino, who is a lieutenant and former Station Captain with the Madera County Fire Department Station #11, built and maintains the wall.
He has announced that all those from North Fork who have served in any branch of the military are now invited to have their names included in the list of honorees.
“When we started, we had just the names of those who were in the Iraq/Afghanistan conflict,” says Augie. “Now we are including anyone who was born and raised in North Fork, from all branches of the service.”
In 2004, John Somerville, retired colonel United States Marine Corp and teacher at the North Fork School, came up with the idea to have a wall honoring all the sons and daughters of the area who were serving their country.
After talking with teachers and students at the North Fork School, the 8th grade class of that year took it on as their 8th grade project, and Augie took it on as his mission.
The 8th graders raised the money to buy the materials for the initial phase, and as the wall continued to grow, Augie reached into his own pocket to keep the project going.
He has done all the edging of the wood and the routing of the letters, and has added new names to the wall over the past nine years. He is now asking that those who want to add a name bring their signs ready to be installed. People are invited to visit the wall to see what sizes of wood and font styles have been used.
Augie retired in 2008, after 31 years with the Chawanakee School District, having worked in maintenance, as a custodian and school bus driver. Any student who attended the North Fork School over those years most likely went on a field trip where Augie served as bus driver and chaperone.
With his daughter Angelica having served in Bagdad, Augie has a personal connection to those soldiers and their families who have given so much in service to their country.
“It has been a real pleasure to acknowledge these young adults,” says Augie. “Any parent who would like their son or daughter to be included is welcome to contact one of our local sign companies to have their name done, and we’ll add them to the wall.”
Augie will be the Master of Ceremonies at the Memorial Day celebration at noon on Monday, May 27.
Bill Samuelson, Music Director at Minarets High School will play The Star Spangled Banner on trumpet, and Pastor Sam Tallmon of Calvary Chapel of the Sierras will be offering an opening prayer.
Everyone will then caravan to the North Fork Cemetery, where the Oakhurst Veterans of Foreign Wars, VFW Post 8473, will conduct a flag raising ceremony at 1 p.m.