Costa Mesa History

Halecrest-Hall of Fame Veterans:  Honoring Those Who Served

  • Chavis, Bernadette
  • Houle, Bob, Ph.D.
  • Koenig, Karl, by Kathy Koenig
  • Polito, Ralph Mathew, by Donna Hunt
  • Ropp, Chuck

Chavis, Bernadette - Both my husband Greg and I were in the Navy during the Vietnam War.  I was a Hospital Corpsman and my husband was on board the USS Constellation. He was in from 1968 to 1972 and I was in from 1973 to 1977. Greg passed away June 1, 2015. I would like to add with Memorial Day just passing that I lost a brother in Vietnam.  His name was Jon Honrath and he was with the 101st Airborne Infantry.  He was just 19 years old.  Both my parents were in, My father was a Lt. Colonel in the Air Force and my mother was in the Navy. Out of the nine children five of us served!  Love our country!

Houle, Bob, Ph.D. In 1966 I was about to be drafted into the army,  so I joined Army Intelligence and completed the Army Intelligence Agent course in Fort Holibird, MD.  Then I was assigned to one year of Vietnamese language school at Ft. Bliss, TX.  After completing language school I was assigned to the Military Assistance Command in Saigon, Vietnam, as an covert intelligence officer. I was fortunate to live in a French villa, enjoying the privileges of a "civilian" attached to the embassy.  That was the good news.

The bad news was that I was tasked with recruiting Vietnamese military and civilian spies for the United States.  I would recruit and train them in the tradecraft of espionage, sabotage, subversion and sedition.  When I arrived, I inherited agents that were already part of our information network, plus I recruited my own agents that I trusted more.  I met agents many times at night in hotels, on the docks and in back alleys.  I always feared that they might have been recruited by the communists and become double-agents.

 I returned to the states on December 9, 1969.  I'm married to my wonderful wife April.  We have two cocker spaniels, Benji and Wilson and one great singing canary named Skyler.  I'm a retired psychologist who now plays guitar and sings at senior centers.


Koenig, Karl, submitted by Kathy Koenig - Karl was drafted in 1965 during the Vietnam War.  After basic training at Fort Polk, Louisiana he was sent to Fort Ord in Northern California.  He did receive orders to go to Vietnam, but somehow his name was not on the final list.  Another time he was supposed to go to Alaska for three months during the winter time.  He was a CPL at the time and Karl questioned why he should go when there was a PFC of lower rank that could go. Karl remained at Fort Ord while the PFC did go to Alaska.  He and I like to think there was a little "divine intervention" at work in all of this because there is a back story.

 I was living in Pacific Grove which, as you may know, is on the Monterey Peninsula and close by Fort Ord.  Through a series of church activities Karl and I met.  Had he been sent to Vietnam or Alaska, we never would have met and married.

 It is interesting to note that while stationed at Fort Ord, Karl taught map reading.  All these years later, our daughter majored in geography in college and became a cartographer (map maker).  She must've inherited some of his genes.

 Karl was discharged in July of 1967, three months after we were married. He returned to working at Hughes Aircraft in Newport Beach where he had been employed prior to being drafted. Costa Mesa has been our home ever since.

 War brings much sadness and aching hearts, but sometimes it does bring good things as well.  This is one such story.


Polito, Ralph Mathew, father of Donna Hunt - Ralph Mathew Polito served in WW2 in the Navy as a Sonar detector. He loved this country and fought for the freedom his children and grandchildren enjoy today. He was a loving husband, father of 7 children, one with special needs that passed at the age of 6 and another son who was killed at 15 here in Costa Mesa by a drunk driver. He was the grandfather of 8 grandchildren. He passed away at the age of 86. 

Ropp, Chuck - Chuck was on active duty  1960 –1964 in the U S Coast Guard.