Tree planting honors lost LV heroes

Posted May 18, 2007
Christina Carter
Fallen soldiers Bernard Corpuz and Jared Landaker were honored Tuesday for their service in Afghanistan and Iraq. Professor of political science Richard Gelm and head baseball coach Scott Winterburn share a moment discussing their former students next to the memorial that is now located between Founders Hall and Miller Hall.

Amid the several other memorials on campus that honor those who’ve fallen in past wars, the University of La Verne honored two former students, First Lt. Jared Landaker and Cpl. Bernard Corpuz who served in Afghanistan and Iraq respectively, with a tree dedication ceremony on Tuesday.

Landaker, 25, had served in the Marines as a helicopter pilot before his untimely death in February from hostile fire during a routine mission while Corpuz, 28, had served for the United States Army before losing his life to an explosive device in combat.

Both men will be remembered for their contributions to the school and the nation.

The entire proceeding commemorating both men took place in front of the new tree, which has been planted in the Quad between Founders Hall and Miller Hall.

The event welcomed the families, friends and other members of the La Verne community who had been touched by the lives of Landaker and Corpuz.

The service began with an introduction by campus minister Deborah Roberts, as she formally introduced the dedication efforts and thanked everyone for their presence.

Following the brief introduction, Roberts presented ULV president Steve Morgan who expressed his gratitude to these brave men on behalf of the University.

“They were bright students that were involved with different activities on campus and they were just the type of students we want at ULV,” Morgan said. “Today we honor them in which their memories will always be part of the community.”

After a short prayer, Roberts invited family members and friends to come up to the tree and honor both men by spreading earth around the tree and speaking of their fondest memories with them.

Many were emotional and moved several others to tears as they spoke of the lives of students that were only trying to serve their nation.

In addition several faculty and staff also paid tribute to Landaker and Corpuz by sharing stories of their own interactions and involvement with them.

Among them included baseball head coach Scott Winterburn, track and field head coach Pat Widolff and other professors who had taught both former students.

At the conclusion of the ceremony, Roberts stated that the tree will remain in its location for all to respect by viewing or leaving flowers.

The tree will forever stand as a symbol of these men sacrificing their lives in service for their nation and their community.

“As an educator, it puts a lot more meaning into the things that we do now,” Winterburn said. “I’ll pass by this tree now and remember all the things these men did for their country.”

Many past and current ULV students present at the dedication ceremony also seemed to be touched by the lives of Landaker and Corpuz, even if many did not know of their efforts prior to the service.

The tree dedicated to the efforts of these men in Afghanistan and Iraq conflicts will join other war trees like Vietnam, World Wars I and II and the Persian Gulf War.

“I think it’s awesome that we have it now,” said Matthew Young, a senior accounting major. “It’s great to commemorate their contributions to the school and the community now with this (tree).”

Galo Pesantes can be reached at

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