The city has replaced four signs bearing the names of fallen military servicemen because of a “design oversight” by developers, which left out the men’s rank, military branch and country of combat.
The original blue-and-white street signs named to honor Tracy casualties of Operation Iraqi Freedom failed to meet Douglas Booke’s expectations.
The ex-Marine said he’s thrilled that the city responded to his petitions to have the signs erected, but he regrets not specifying what design he had in mind for the street-side memorials, which bore the names of fallen soldiers but not the rank or any explanatory context.
The first one installed was for Sgt. Joseph Menusa, who died in 2003, Tracy’s first casualty in Iraq.
“When Menusa’s street sign went up, it was just like any other street’s sign,” Booke said. “I thought it would be more of a tribute to honor them with the correct design. I guess I should have said something, but I assumed they already knew.”
Booke notified the city of the oversight, and the four new signs state the name, rank, military branch and conflict fought by the fallen soldiers being commemorated, City Manager Dan Hobbs said.
Booke began to ask the city to put up the new street signs after seeing similar ones around town, notably Vallerand Road, which was named after Vietnam casualty Larkin O. Vallerand. His request revived a 20-year-old city policy to have at least one memorial street sign in each new subdivision.
But Booke thought the new signs would resemble the one for Vallerand Road and nearby streets, which bear military branch insignias, the country of deployment and the full name of local veterans.
“I lived on Vallerand Road, and I’ve always noticed those street signs. When Iraqi Freedom started and we had some fatalities, I thought I’d write to the city and honor these veterans by putting up some more,” said Booke, referring to his first request to the city in January 2004.
The Sgt. Patrick McCaffrey, Pfc. Jesse Martinez, Sgt. Steven Bridges and Menusa signs have been reinstalled.
“I’m not upset at the mistake, I’m just glad they’re going up,” Booke said. “It’s a sad commentary, but it’s to be remembered.”