By Reggie Ellis
Exeter's newest park will be dedicated to the memory of a fallen hero on Thursday, Oct. 14.
The city-owned park at the corner of Glaze Avenue and Belmont Road will be dedicated as Daniel Unger Memorial Park at 10:30 a.m. Exeter City Administrator John Kunkel said the Unger family will be in attendance in addition to several dignitaries.
Possible dignitaries or a representative from their office include: Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Assemblyman Bill Maze, State Senator Roy Ashburn, Tulare County Board of Supervisors Chairman and District 1 Supervisor Bill Sanders and District 1 candidates Allen Ishida and Bud Pinkham.
Jim Heaton and Associates/Coldwell Banker will be providing light refreshments following the ceremony.
A specialist in the 1st Battalion, 185th Armored Regiment, 81st Separate Armor Brigade, Alpha Company, Daniel, 19, was killed in Iraq during a mortar attack at about 3:30 p.m. on May 25 at Forward Operating Base Kalsu, located 25 miles south of Baghdad while saving the lives of two Iraqi civilians.
At the Aug. 24 Exeter City Council meeting, the mayor said park developer, Chris Bitterlin, had proposed dedicating the park to Daniel. The council agreed on the matter as long as the Unger family was in favor of the idea.
"We think it is wonderful," said Marc, pastor of the Exeter Baptist Church in a previous interview. "This park will be a tribute to an indomitable spirit of a young man committed to Jesus Christ, keeping his country free and allowing the Iraqi people to be free."
Bitterlin said he was so moved by Daniel's story that he had to do something.
"I never met him or his family but after reading his story in The Exeter Sun I thought, 'What an incredible story of a human being who died doing what he felt was his mission in life,'" he said from his San Diego office. Bitterlin donated the four-acre park to the City of Exeter as part of a 1991 development agreement. Bitterlin's company didn't break ground on the subdivision until August 2002 because of a bad housing market in the 1990s.