Sunday, May 03, 2015
Visiting the Memorial

The Northwood Gratitude and Honor Memorial was dedicated on November 14, 2010.

The Memorial is officially open to the public 24 hours a day, year-round.

The Memorial is located at 4531 Bryan Avenue in Irvine, CA, about 1 hour south of Los Angeles and 20 minutes south of Anaheim.

  • Interstate 5 - Culver Drive (Exit 99)
  • Drive NE on Culver Drive approx. 1/2 mile (toward the mountains)
  • Turn Right onto Bryan Avenue
  • Northwood Community Park will be on your left in approx. 1 mile (intersection of Bryan Ave. and Yale Ave.)

The list of engraved names is available on the Fallen Heroes page. If you would like to do a name rubbing, please stop by the Park Center to request the free materials, or complete the visit form on the Gold Star page to arrange for a volunteer to meet you at the Memorial with materials. 


"To be killed in a war is not the worst that can happen. To be lost is not the worst. To be forgotten is the worst."

Pierre Claeyssens (1909–2003)

Memorial Events

Ceremonies / Events

This year's Memorial Day ceremony will be held on Sunday May 24th at 4pm.

The ceremony will honor all of America’s Fallen Heroes. The names of those who fell in Afghanistan since September 30, 2014 will be read aloud and candles lit in their memory.

Please join us for this important remembrance.

The ceremony is free and open to the public. Please bring a lawn chair or blanket for your seating comfort as you participate in the ceremony from the park meadow.

As always, donations will be gratefully accepted at the table beneath the tree. All proceeds are used to support the Northwood Memorial and the free name rubbings sent by volunteers to Gold Star families nationwide.


Local hotels, merchants, restaurants  and entertainment locations are offering discounts to active military, veterans, Blue Star and Gold Star families. Visitors to the Memorial should go to for details. Thank you to the participants in this program for their support.

Visit us on Facebook - Join the Conversation

Visit our Facebook page for current information.


A Call for Pictures and Videos

If you have pictures or video of the Memorial that you are willing to share on-line, please let us know by sending an email to or click on Contact Us at the bottom of this page.

Volunteers Needed!

With the dedication of the new permanent memorial behind us, we need your help raising the funds needed to fulfill our commitment for its construction and future maintenance.

We need your talent and time. Think you have no talent? We still could use your time and energy to help out. Check the Volunteer section on this site. Or send us a message at and let us know how you'd like to help.


2011 State of the City Speech (excerpt)

From Irvine Mayor Sukhee Kang's "State of the City" speech delivered on February 7, 2011:

"It is important to always remember … as we do with our decades-long support of our military personnel and heritage … that we live in a larger world. Last November, we dedicated the Northwood Gratitude and Honor Memorial, recognizing every fallen service member who gave the ultimate sacrifice in Iraq and Afghanistan. What began as a grassroots, community-led memorial in 2003 is now a permanent fixture at Northwood Community Park. On a somber, memorable day, the dedication before 700 people reminded us of the initial 5,714 names as a living memorial. It is a reminder that the price of freedom is very high, and ongoing. Our memorial will not be complete until all service men and women are returned home safely."

The Northwood Gratitude and Honor Memorial

Northwood Gratitude and Honor Memorial

The nation's first memorial listing the names of all the fallen American service members in Afghanistan and Iraq was formally dedicated and opened to the public on November 14, 2010. (Photos below and on the "Dedication Day Photos" page; a brief summary video of the public ceremony can be viewed at The panels currently hold the names of 6,786 casualties from October, 2001 through March, 2014. The panels will be updated regularly as long as American service members are dying in those conflicts.

Since 2003, a simple memorial for the country’s military fallen in Afghanistan and Iraq was set up in the Southern California city of Irvine by members of the community on the week before Memorial Day and then removed the week after Independence Day.  For years the community and visitors from all over the country have come to share in the fellowship at the site of the Northwood Gratitude and Honor Memorial.

This expression of gratitude and honor, born from simple materials and community initiative, was approved on December 8th, 2009 by the Irvine City Council to become a permanent monument to the heroes that gave their all to the United States of America.

The names of every service member who has died in Afghanistan and Iraq had been displayed on the wooden posts of the temporary memorial. Now their names are engraved in granite in a permanent memorial, to assure that future generations of Americans will remember and honor them with gratitude as we do today.

Please join us in remembering these heroes. Your donation help defray the cost of a hero's name being engraved in a granite panel of the memorial, maintenance of the Memorial, and services to Gold Star families.

Special Visitors: September 14, 2012 the USAF Honor Guard Drill Team

We were honored to have the USAF Air Force Honor Guard Drill Team out of Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling in Washington, D.C. visit the Northwood Memorial this afternoon. The unit recently won the National Drill Team Competition and are on a U.S. Tour.

Despite a blazing sun and a temperature of 102 degrees, the unit made a dazzling impression. Their presence actually brought traffic on Bryant Avenue to a halt!

As with every military unit that has come to the Memorial, the names of several friends were located and name rubbings done.

We appreciate the effort of Cynthia Harty in working with the Air Force Public Affairs Officer in making this happen.

Special Event: September 15th 10am to Noon.

A Dream Fulfilled...
A Truck Filled with Honor and Healing

A message from Pam Rogan, Volunteer.
At last year's Remembering The Brave Ceremony I met and had the honor to sit with the families of Phillip Vinnedge and Victor Dew. They were 3/5 Marines who were killed in action in Afghanistan on October 13, 2010.
Julie Vinnedge, Phillip's Mom, told me the story about how her son always wanted a old classic Chevy truck. He and his father searched all over the country and never found what they were looking for. Two weeks after Phillip was killed, his father heard on a local Missouri radio station about a garage sale. He put it out there that he was looking for a classic Chevy truck built approximately in the 50's. Two hours later he received a call from a local farmer that had a 1951 Chevy truck in his barn with 28,000 original miles. That truck was at the Vinnedge house within hours of that call. Phillip's father and brothers thought that tinkering on this truck would help them with their grieving process. Much has happened since then but after 18 months of an overhaul and 6 weeks of detail work Phillip's dream ride is now a reality.
Julie thought she'd like to share this truck with other Gold Star families across the country just for the purpose of healing. Regardless of the military branch of their loved one, other Gold Star families have come to see the truck and joined in honoring all our nation's fallen heroes. It has turned into something more than Julie could have ever imagined.
The truck is making it's way from Missouri to many parts of the country. It was in Camp Pendelton on  September 13th, then in Balboa San Diego on September 14th and also on the dock of the USS Midway in the Port of San Diego.
The Fallen Hero's Dream Ride made an appearance at the Northwood Gratitude and Honor Memorial on  September 15th from 10:00 AM until 12:00 noon. This beautiful rolling memorial was escorted to the Northwood Memorial by the Patriot Guard Riders and the Irvine Police Department.
About 50 people were waving the flags as the motorcade arrived. Following the Pledge and the national anthem, Julie Vinnedge told the story of this truck and of the twenty-five 3/5 Darkhorse Marines that sacrificed their lives for our freedom on the unit's last deployment to Afghanistan in 2010-2011.

The Fallen Of The 3/5

In the fall of 2010, nearly 1,000 U.S. Marine officers and enlisted men of the 3rd Battalion, 5th Regiment deployed to Helmand province in southern Afghanistan. By the time their tour ended in April 2011, the Marines of the 3/5 — known as "Darkhorse" — suffered the highest casualty rate of any U.S. military unit during the war with 25 Marines killed in action and 200 wounded.

The names of the Fallen Heroes are engraved on Panels 17 and 18 found on Sentinels 2 and 3 of the Northwood Gratitude and Honor Memorial.

Oct. 8, 2010: Lance Cpl. John Sparks
Oct. 13, 2010: Lance Cpl. Joseph Rodewald, Lance Cpl. Phillip Vinnedge, Cpl. Justin Cain and Pfc. Victor Dew
Oct. 14, 2010: Lance Cpl. Alec Catherwood, Lance Cpl. Irvin Ceniceros and Lance Cpl. Joseph Lopez
Oct. 15, 2010: Lance Cpl. James Boelk
Oct. 16, 2010: Sgt. Ian Tawney
Nov. 4, 2010: Lance Cpl. Matthew Broehm and Lance Cpl. Brandon Pearson
Nov. 6, 2010: Lance Cpl. Randy Braggs
Nov. 9, 2010: 1st Lt. Robert Kelly
Nov. 10, 2010: Lance Cpl. James Stack
Nov. 24, 2010: Lance Cpl. Arden Buenagua
Nov. 25, 2010: 1st Lt. William Donnelly
Dec. 2, 2010: Sgt. Matthew Abbate
Dec. 6, 2010: Cpl. Derek Wyatt and Pfc. Colton Rusk
Dec. 7, 2010: Sgt. Jason Peto
Dec. 17, 2010: Lance Cpl. Jose Maldonado
Dec. 24, 2010: Lance Cpl. Kenneth Corzine
Dec. 28, 2010: Cpl. Tevan Nguyen
Jan. 20, 2011: Sgt. Jason Amores


KNX Radio (Los Angeles) - "On Your Corner" comes to Northwood Gratitude and Honor Memorial

On August 24, 2012 KNX Radio in Los Angeles broadcast an interview with Northwood Gratitude and Honor Memorial Volunteer Ed Rogan about the Memorial. This was part of a day-long focus on the City of Irvine for an edition of the popular "On Your Corner" series that informs listeners of interesting places to visit in Southern California. The interview can be heard by clicking here.


Northwood Gratitude and Honor Memorial Photographs

Please visit our photo galleries at to see photographs from past events.

Photos from Dedication Day

1,400 American flags were placed around the entire park early Sunday morning by Cub Scout and Girl Scout volunteers . It was an inspiring sight to see all day long. (Photo by Fritz Kern)

Some of the Cub Scouts, getting direction from Ed Rogan. (Photo by Fritz Kern)

Visitors finding the name of their personal fallen hero. Marines stood watch over the granite sentinels all day long. (Photo by Fritz Kern)

Lt.Colonel Stephen Beck, USMC - founder of the "Remembering the Brave" organization - offering his thoughts on remembering and honoring the fallen. To his right is another guest speaker, Brig. General Robert Tate, U.S. Air Force (Retired)   (Photo by Fritz Kern)

The "Missing Man" formation flyover by Marine Air Group-39. The flight was led by Major General Thomas Conant, Commanding General 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing. (Photo by Fritz Kern)

Documentary Video of the Temporary Memorial

Click the image below to play the Northwood Memorial documentary video

We Remember Them

A Litany of Remembrance
Roland B. Gittelsohn

In the blowing of the wind and in the chill of winter,
We remember them.

In the opening buds and in the rebirth of spring,
We remember them.

In the blueness of the sky and in the warmth of summer,
We remember them.

In the rustling of leaves and in the beauty of autumn,
We remember them.

In the beginning of the year and when it ends,
We remember them.

When we are weary and in need of strength,
We remember them.

When we are lost and are sick of heart,
We remember them.

When we have Joys we yearn to share,
We remember them.

So long as we live, they too shall live,
For they are now a part of us,
As we remember them.

Gold Star Families

Welcome Gold Star Families,

Please look around the site to learn about this community effort to honor your loved one. Before you leave, be sure to stop by the Fallen Heroes page. There you can search for the location of your hero's name on the Memorial

Then go to the Gold Star page where you can request that rubbings (tracings) of your loved one's name be sent to you free of charge.

"Remember the Brave" - original song

“And he, he gave his tomorrow

He left his life to serve his country

And he went where few men would follow

Willing to die for you and for me

So don’t let this man’s sacrifice be in vain

Remember his name.”

Country musician Johnny Bulford wrote an original song for the organization "Remembering the Brave" to honor the fallen heroes of Afghanistan and Iraq. He graciously allowed us to include it in our dedication ceremonies and it has become an unofficial anthem of our Memorial. Please take a few moments to listen to it - we think you'll understand why we think it is such a special song: To learn more about the song and the artist, visit and click on his blog page.

OC Register article 11/13/10

A nice article in the November 13, 2010 Orange County Register about the history of the memorial can be found at

About Irvine

Irvine is a city of 217,000 nestled against the foothills of the Santa Ana Mountain range, located 40 miles south of Los Angeles, California and 10 minutes south of Anaheim (home to Disneyland). Once a farming and citrus growing area, Irvine is now a regional business center and home to the University of California-Irvine, and numerous high technology and financial services companies. Incorporated in 1971 as the nation's largest planned community, it regularly ranks high in the U.S. for its liveability, diversity, and safety.

Irvine's history with the military dates back to WWII when the Navy opened a blimp port (still standing) and USMC Air Station El Toro bordering on what would become Irvine. These bases remained in operation until 1999 and Irvine was home to many Marines and sailors. Thirty minutes south of Irvine is USMC Camp Pendleton - home of the 2nd Battalion, 11th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division (2/11), which was officially adopted by the city on September 15, 2007.

The residents of Irvine and Orange County have a long held respect for our military and are committed to honoring and remembering with gratitude those who have sacrificed their lives for the nation.


Need more information? Have a suggestion or comment? Wish to offer assistance? Please send us a message at  

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