The 10 people who assembled in front of the Heroes Hall veterans museum Friday morning hailed from diverse walks of life. Their experiences and expertise are wide-ranging, as are their interests.
Despite their differences, they all share a love of country and a willingness to serve it as part of the armed forces.
The 10 veterans — as well as two more who couldn’t make it in person — were recognized by state Assemblywoman Cottie Petrie-Norris (D-Laguna Beach) during a ceremony at the museum on the OC Fair & Event Center property in Costa Mesa.
“Today we’re here for one very important reason: to honor the men and women of our community, the heroes right here living in our community who have served our country and who have sacrificed so much so that all of us can live in freedom,” Petrie-Norris said.
She said she worked with community members and Orange County veterans groups to select a man and a woman to honor from each of the six cities in her 74th Assembly District:
- Costa Mesa: Daniel James Holloway (Coast Guard) and City Councilwoman Andrea Marr (Navy)
- Huntington Beach: Bill Kull (Army) and Jane Perlowin Weller (Army Air Corps)
- Irvine: Jeff Pegano (Army) and Lisa Grajewski (Marine Corps)
- Laguna Beach: Richard Moore (Air Force) and Evelda “Eve” Loftsgaard (Marine Corps)
- Laguna Woods: Mayor Cynthia Conners (Women’s Air Corps) and Hector “Lou” Tirado (Army Air Corps)
- Newport Beach: William “Bill” Stewart (Army Air Corps) and Addie Collins-Zinone (Army)
“They have all demonstrated great valor and commitment to our country and they have also continued their service outside the military, working in their communities as teachers, as community leaders and as advocates for their brothers and sisters in arms,” Petrie-Norris said.
The assemblywoman and co-presenters — including Costa Mesa Mayor Katrina Foley, Newport Beach Councilwoman Joy Brenner, Irvine Councilwoman Melissa Fox, Laguna Woods Councilman Joe Rainey and Bobby McDonald of the OC Veterans Advisory Council — recognized the honorees.
While the crowd of about 70 people warmly received all the veterans, the applause was especially vigorous for those who served in World War II.
Two of them, Kull and Tirado, are 99 years old. Perlowin Weller is 100.
After the ceremony, Kull — who served in five European countries during the war and received two Bronze Stars — said, “It’s a great honor to be here.”
“To be among so many other honorees, I feel kind of small,” he said with a laugh.
Kull said he thinks the best way residents can show support for veterans is by lending their time and energy to groups that help keep the community going strong.
“I think they can join their local organizations, whatever they may be, and support the community,” he said. “If there’s a strong community, there will be a strong backing for the veterans, and we would be happy with that.”