The Placer County Supervisors this week has given their support to efforts to name an unnamed peak in Eastern Placer County in honor of three Tahoe-area servicemen who were killed in action in the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. The peak, located in the Lake Tahoe Basin on United States Forest Service land in Placer County, will be called Gold Star Peak.
The Board passed a proclamation supporting the naming of the peak. The request moves on to the Board on Geographical Names, which is responsible for approving the naming of this natural feature. The request to name the peak has already been supported by the American Legion, El Dorado County and the city of South Lake Tahoe.
The effort, spearheaded by U.S. Representative Tom McClintock, will have a memorial installed on Tahoe’s South Shore with a view across the lake at the ridge where the peak is located. The efforts to offer remembrance to fallen service members include naming physical features, federal buildings and trails through the congressman’s district.
The three fallen men include two soldiers and one Marine:
* PFC Phillip Brandon Williams, USMC, 21, died October 9, 2006 in Iraq;
* Sergeant Timothy M. Smith, USA, 25, died April 7, 2008 in Iraq; and
* Specialist Garrett Fant, USA, 21, died September 26, 2011 in Afghanistan.
Williams, whose father and uncle are sergeants with the South Lake Tahoe Police Department, was in a military police unit in Iraq and was killed in action in Baghdad, Iraq. He had told his father the reason he wanted to be deployed was so he could protect the people of Iraq.
Smith, who left behind a wife and young son, was killed in action in Baghdad, Iraq, while performing military duties in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, working to make the Iraqi capital a safer place for its citizens.
Fant, who intended to first serve his country in the U.S. Army for 20 years, then return to Lake Tahoe to teach high school history, was killed in action in southern Afghanistan’s Helmand province, on the Pakistani border, while engaged in military operations for Operation Enduring Freedom to bring stability to Afghanistan.
The three heroes take their places in history among the nine generations of Americans who have died in conflict around the globe.
The peak’s name, Gold Star, comes from the Gold Star Lapel Pin that was established by Act of Congress in 1947 to identify widows, parents and next of kin of service members killed in certain operations. While enacted after WW II, the award authority is retroactive to WW I, and includes most subsequent conflicts.