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Hometown Heroes honored at Granite Hills
Every year during the week of September 11, Granite Hills High School honors the every day heroes of is community. Friday was no exception as the school took time to honor hometown heroes between its junior varsity and varsity football games.
This year, the honor was especially touching for the school, as one of the school’s own — Spc. Alejandro J. Pardo, killed in action in Afghanistan — was honored.
“Every year Granite Hills finds it extremely important to show our appreciation to our everyday heroes that live right here in our community,” said broadcaster Terry Manning over the stadium’s sound system. “Historically, this football game falls during the week of 9/11 where much of America’s minds are focused on the heroes of the Twin Towers Tragedy.”
For that reason, Granite Hills offers its own hometown heroes the recognition they deserve, he said.
“These men and women put their lives on the line every day in order to keep our community safe and protected,” Manning said. “These men and women, who stand before you, are Porterville’s true heroes and Granite Hills High School could not feel more proud or honored to recognize our very own hometown heroes.”
The crowd burst into applause in honor of the heroes — the 3rd Brigade Cadets, U.S. Army, U.S. Navy, City of Porterville Fire Department engineers, firefighters and captains, Porterville Police Department officers and dispatchers, Cal Fire firefighters and engineers, California Highway Patrol officers, school resource officers, and paramedics and personnel from Imperial Ambulance and American Medical Response.
In addition, Veterans in the crowd were asked to stand and offered recognition for their service to the country.
“At this time, we would now like to honor a person who was near and dear to our community’s hearts,” Manning said. “A Porterville native and a 2009 Granite Hills High School graduate, [SPC] Alejandro J. Pardo lost his life while serving in Afghanistan.”
Private Pardo, promoted posthumously to Specialist, and five other soldiers were killed when their armored vehicle struck a roadside bomb in July.
Pardo, known as AJ, played football, soccer, baseball and was involved in the orchestra at Granite Hills. He was also a member of the St. Anne’s youth group, loved food and dreamed of being a professional chef one day.
“AJ touched many lives and was a great friend to all,” Manning said. “He is definitely missed and will never be forgotten.”
With a U.S. Army representative standing in the center of all the hometown heroes — as a representative of Pardo — Manning called for a moment of silence.
The moment ended with the start of “Amazing Grace” by the Granite Hills High School Choir, led by Sassanna Efseaff, while a single white dove was released by Jonell Webb.
The ceremony was sponsored by Porterville Ford, Juicy Burger and Jonell Webb.
Heroes, veterans and the community was thanked for participating in the evening’s ceremony.
“Because of you, we are proud to call this city home and we salute you,” Manning said before asking for another round of applause for all of the heroes and veterans.