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Operation Recognition

Presenting SBCEO’s Operation Recognition Graduating Class of 2022

Click HERE to view more photos from the event.

Click HERE to watch the tribute videos about each veteran.

Six veterans who were unable to finish high school - due to their military service or internment in a relocation camp - received their high school diplomas on Thursday, April 7, 2022, at 3:30 pm at a special graduation ceremony held by the Santa Barbara County Education Office (SBCEO).

California Education Code authorizes the granting of retroactive high school diplomas to eligible veterans whose education was interrupted by military service in World War II, the Korean War, or the Vietnam War, or by internment in a relocation camp during World War II.

At this milestone event, County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Susan Salcido and members of the Santa Barbara County Board of Education presented six veterans with diplomas, four of which were awarded posthumously through family members who received the diploma on behalf of their deceased father or grandfather.

The diploma recipients were: 

  • Marcos Ramirez Carrillo: represented by his daughters Molly Carrillo-Walker and Julia Cory
  • Jesus Torres, Jr.: represented by his daughter, Ana Torres
  • Shukichi Hokedo: represented by his son, Paul Hokedo
  • Modesto T. Cardenas: represented by his granddaughter Destiny Trigueros
  • Guadalupe Lopez

More than 200 people attended, including large cheering sections filled with family and friends of each of the diploma recipients as well as countywide school leaders, public and law enforcement officials, veterans groups, and representatives from the Vandenberg Space Force Base led by Colonel Christopher Sheffield. Also in attendance were former State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell, former Santa Barbara County Superintendent of Schools Bill Cirone, County Sheriff Bill Brown, Deputy District Attorney John Savrnoch, and County Supervisors Das Williams, Joan Hartmann, and Steve Lavagnino.

Dr. Susan Salcido told the audience: “After the tremendous service you’ve given, and the sacrifices you’ve made, it is now our moment to provide a tangible acknowledgment of our gratitude in your honor, and in honor of your legacies. To those of you who are here on behalf of a veteran who is no longer with us, we are so deeply grateful that you have chosen to be part of this milestone occasion in tribute to your loved-one. Today, we are recognizing individuals who have served our country and then went on to serve their communities. Their life’s work reflects the very attributes represented by a high school diploma. That’s why it is essential that we acknowledge their achievements, and hear and remember their stories - which have impacted us all.”

The event included the UCSB ROTC Color Guard, the La Colina Junior High School Jazz Band, the Santa Barbara Bagpipe and Drum Corps, the Adelfos Ensemble and San Marcos High School sophomore saxophonist, Eliel Pozos Martinez. Special comments were delivered by guest speaker, Dr. Roger Welt, a Vietnam veteran and retired Allan Hancock College Vice President of Student Affairs. Dr. Welt served as a Vietnam War Combat Correspondent and went on to receive three Bronze Star Medals, an Army Commendation Medal, and a Combat Infantryman Badge.

This is the second year that SBCEO has organized the Operation Recognition program and graduation ceremony. To date, SBCEO has awarded 13 veterans from our county with retroactive high school diplomas.

For further information, contact Camie Barnwell, Director of Communications, Santa Barbara County Education Office: / 805-696-0064 (mobile).

What Is Operation Recognition?

The Operation Recognition program exists to recognize qualifying individuals whose high school education was interrupted by military service in World War II, the Korean War, or the Vietnam War, or by internment. 

Effective January 1, 2004, California Assembly Bill 781 was enacted as law (Education Code § 51430) to authorize county offices of education to retroactively grant high school diplomas to those who meet the following criteria:

  • Individuals who served in World War II, the Korean War or Vietnam War and were honorably discharged from their military service.
  • Japanese-American citizens who left high school due to internment in World War II relocation camps.
  • Families may apply on behalf of eligible persons who are deceased.

Eligibility Specifics:

  • All recipients must have been enrolled in a high school prior to enlistment in military service or internment in a World War II relocation camp.
  • Military service must have been during the following periods: 
    • WWII: December 7, 1941 to December 31, 1946
    • Korean War: June 27, 1950 to January 31, 1955 
    • Vietnam War: February 28, 1961 to May 7, 1975
  • Japanese-American citizens must show proof of having been interned in a relocation camp during the period of September 16, 1940 to December 31, 1946.

To apply for a high school diploma through the Operation Recognition program, please fill out the application HERE. Application in Spanish HERE.