Military Traditions

March 30, 2021 By Shirley Arnold

Local Planner: Hill 147

At sunrise on Veterans Day, you can join a dozen or more people of all ages who make the steep climb up Hill 147 to pay tribute to military friends and family members who paid the ultimate price and never returned home.

Hill 147, called Memorial Hill by some, is the 440-foot summit on the north side of I-80, which is topped with four flagpoles bearing nine flags (multiple American flags, the four armed-services flags, and the POW/MIA flag). We see them as we drive along the highway toward Vacaville.

Until May 24, 2017, it was just another beautiful but unadorned California hill. Then a flagpole with the American and Marine flags appeared. In late July, a second flagpole flying the American and Army flags joined it.

A former Marine and Vietnam veteran, Mike Goble, is the man with the mission. An avid hiker, Goble found a discarded 20-foot-long metal pipe in Lagoon Valley and used it to erect his first flagpole on a nearby hill. On May 12, 2017 he raised the American flag in honor of his friend, Army Capt. John Curran, who was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross.

Just before Memorial Day, Goble found a second pole near the Paradise Valley Golf course and dragged it up Hill 147, placing it with the help of his young son, Nathan. That pole with flags was dedicated in memory of his friend, Marine Cpl. Richard Strahl. In July, Goble decided to move the flag in Lagoon Valley to Hill 147, no small task. Next to each pole is a plaque about the man honored. Both men fought and died in Vietnam.

Other people began to find their way to the hill bringing flags to commemorate their own fallen loved ones. With help from friends and family, Goble has erected four poles so far, guyed into the ground with nylon rope.

Wind and rain take their toll on the flags. As the number of flags has grown, so have the expenses. Flags are replaced twice a year at a cost between $400–$500. Navy veteran Donald Pace set up a Facebook page with GoFundMe account for Goble. Two new benches were donated so climbers can rest while remembering those who gave their lives for their country. Goble’s long-term goal is to install heavy-duty flags and add solar lighting.

The Paradise Valley Estates Patriotic Committee purchased four flags for Hill 147, one for each branch of the military, in keeping with the military heritage of our community.

If you can’t make it on Veteran’s Day, you can be one of a growing number of people who climb Hill 147 on Memorial Day, also at sunrise. It is about 537 steps to the summit with a superlative view over most of Fairfield to Mt. Diablo. What you will experience is unending respect for those in the military who died while serving their country. Mike Goble will certainly be there.

Hill 147 is on Lyon Road between Fairfield and Vacaville. You can park along Lyon Road and walk up.

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