Hollister resident presented with KIA flag

Clemencia Torres’s son Arcadio Torres Jr. was killed in action in Vietnam when he was 18 years old. 
U.S. Army Private Arcadio Torres Jr.'s name is engraved on the tombstone in front of the Veterans Building. Photo by Michael Koteles.

This article was written by BenitoLink intern Michael Koteles


On April 29, American Legion Auxiliary District 28 President Esther LePore awarded the Killed in Action (KIA) Honor flag to Hollister resident Clemencia Torres.

The KIA honor flag, which features a red background with black and gold writing and graphics, is presented to a gold star family member to publicly honor the sacrifice of the loved one while in combat. During the ceremony, members of the veterans organization American Legion Riders Chapter 31 explained the symbolism included in the flag. 

Torres is the mother of U.S. Army Private Arcadio Torres Jr., who was killed in action in Vietnam on August 22, 1968. Torres was 18 when he died in combat and was born and raised in Hollister.

“To me it means a sentiment that their loved one will always be remembered,” LePore said. “His mother belongs to our unit. We want to honor her every year, every day because that’s the ultimate sacrifice.” 

Legion Riders member Hy Libby said the red symbolizes sacred blood shed in defense of the country; the black graphics symbolize mourning and the sacred oval is reserved for family members to sign. 

He said the phrase, “all gave some, some gave all” recognizes the sacrifice of U.S. military service members. 

The flag also has a depiction of a soldier crossing a battle line to retrieve his fallen comrade and complete the soldier’s cross (helmet and rifle) with the boots and dog tags. 

The phrase below the sacred oval, “the brave and the free” recognizes that we stay free because of the efforts of the brave. 

The final line, “America remembers” expresses the nation’s lasting gratitude for the sacrifice of the fallen and their family. 

Attendees are meant to sign or inscribe personal sentiments on the flag to the family and Arcadio, whose name is engraved on the tombstone in front of the Veterans Building.

During the KIA honor flag ceremony San Benito County Sheriff deputies paid their respects by signing their names on the KIA flag, along with the riders and other attendees.



The BenitoLink Internship Program is a paid, skill-building program that prepares local youth for a professional career. This program is supported by Monterey Peninsula Foundation AT&T Golf Tour, United Way, Taylor Farms and the Emma Bowen Foundation.


Michael Koteles

An intern reporter for BenitoLink, Michael also tackles a college prep program, debate club, and wrestling and lacrosse competitions at Hollister High School. President of Club Adversity—a campus club he founded—Michael challenges others as he does himself, modeling goal planning, overcoming obstacles, and trying out public speaking, for example at Rotary Club events. To round out his busy schedule, Michael serves as Region 6 president of the California Association of Student Councils, representing Monterey, Santa Cruz, and San Benito Counties. He imagines a future in public policy after graduating from a four- year university, but for now until high school graduation in 2024, Michael will continue to help his peers in Club Adversity stay organized and build teams to fight for the ideals of his generation.