College of the Redwoods


Cal Poly Humboldt

College Matters | Honoring those who served

This article was originally posted in the College Matters column of the Times-Standard.

Thursday, September 22, 2022 - 2:00pm

As a way to educate the college community on the contribution of people of color to our country, last month, the College of the Redwoods Veterans Resource Center launched a project that shares the stories of male and female veterans of color who have received the Medal of Honor, the nation’s most prestigious military decoration. The award is rare, with just over 3,500 total recipients since it was first awarded in 1863. Just 28 have been awarded this century.

The VRC, under the leadership of Program Coordinator Matthew Gilliland and Veteran Resource Specialist Dalin Campbell, started the Medal of Honor project because, as a community, we believe that it is important, especially now, that we take the time to speak about the sacrifice, honor, and courage of people of color.

The stories of the Medal of Honor recipients we honored in August and September should be a source of inspiration for all of us and I’d like to share them with you here.

August honoree John Lawson (June 16, 1837 – May 3, 1919)

Mr. Lawson (U.S. Navy), an African American was born June 16, 1837, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He enlisted in the Union Navy in the Civil War in December 1863 and received a Medal of Honor for his bravery on Aug. 5, 1864 while on board the flagship U.S.S. Hartford during the Battle of Mobile Bay. He was badly wounded in the leg and thrown violently against the side of the ship by an enemy shell that killed or wounded the other members of the six-man crew. Nevertheless, as the shell ripped through the berth deck, Lawson shortly regained his composure and returned to his station rather than go below deck to treat his injury. He bravely continued his duties throughout the remainder of the action.

September honoree Alfred V. Rascon (Sept. 10, 1945 – Present)

Mr. Rascon (U.S. Army) was a Mexican citizen of the United States who distinguished himself by a series of extraordinarily courageous acts on March 16, 1966 while assigned as a combat medic in Vietnam. While moving to reinforce a sister battalion that was under intense enemy attack, his platoon came under heavy fire that wounded several of his fellow soldiers. Specialist Rascon, ignoring directions to stay behind shelter repeatedly tried to reach a severely wounded point machine-gunner. Once there, he intentionally placed his body between the soldier and enemy machine guns, sustaining numerous shrapnel injuries and a serious wound to the hip. He then dragged the larger soldier to relative safety.

Rascon was wounded yet again when he used his own body to cover a wounded soldier saving the other’s life. Specialist Rascon’s extraordinary valor in the face of deadly enemy fire, his heroism in rescuing the wounded, and his gallantry by repeatedly risking his own life for his fellow soldiers reflected credit upon himself, his unit, and the U.S. Army.

Although these soldiers were recognized for extraordinary valor, we know there are thousands of Americans who go unnamed but are equally vital for the protection of our way of life. We are fortunate to have many of them as our students. In addition to the Medal of Honor program, I would like to draw attention to some of our student veterans that have been invaluable assets to the VRC team and to our country.

Marlia Luzie served in the U.S. Marine Corps and is studying forestry and natural resources at CR. She is looking to transfer to Cal Poly Humboldt in the fall of 2023 and has worked at the VRC for over a year, playing an integral part in moving the program to a digital record retention system.

Eion Davis served in the U.S. Navy. He is studying business administration and is also looking to transfer to Cal Poly Humboldt in the fall of 2023. Eion is spearheading a project to map activity and utilization of the VRC over the years.

Nigel Anderson served in the U.S. Navy and is currently taking prerequisite classes for nursing and hopes to transfer to an institution that has programs in radiology therapy. Nigel is new to the VRC this term but we are looking forward to his contributions.

As a veteran myself, I am proud to lead an institution that honors the sacrifice of Medal of Honor recipients. Sharing these stories allows us to imagine the potential each one of our students has to inspire one other and the world.

To follow CR’s Medal of Honor program, you can go to the Veterans Resource Center webpage at

To learn more about the Medal of Honor and other recipients of the medal, you can visit the Medal of Honor Historical Society of the United States at

To all veterans who have served and are currently serving, THANK YOU!

Dr. Keith Flamer is the president of the College of the Redwoods.