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Sunday, December 10, 2023

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Kenneth J. Lamberton (’54) and Matthew Gene Axelson. Kenneth J. Lamberton (’54) and Matthew Gene Axelson.

A Pilot and a SEAL

The annual Wreath-Laying Ceremony will honor uncommon accomplishments of noteworthy Aztecs.
By Tobin Vaughn

Kenneth J. Lamberton (’54) and Matthew Gene Axelson; the former an Air Force pilot and the latter a Navy SEAL.  Both died in service to their country, both were Aztecs.

The lives of both men will be remembered this month by San Diego State University when their names are added to the campus War Memorial.

The War Memorial stands as a tribute to former San Diego State students lost in service to their country. These 232 men and women will be officially honored at a homecoming wreath-laying ceremony set for Friday, Nov. 13 at the top of Aztec Green.

Lamberton’s and Axelson’s names are being added to the obelisk following approval by the SDSU Alumni Association’s War Memorial Committee. Members authorized their inclusion on the monument based on the recommendation of Robert Fikes, Jr., a retired SDSU librarian and researcher.

Fikes wrote a report entitled, “Supreme Sacrifice, Extraordinary Service; Profiles of SDSU Military Alumni.” Frequently updated with the research he uncovers, the report offers details of the lives of Aztecs killed during wartime, including how and when they died.

Fikes discovered both Lamberton and Axelson were Aztec alumni who had been overlooked for inclusion on the memorial. Axelson actually graduated from Chico State, but studied for a year at SDSU.

For different reasons, both men are noteworthy additions to the memorial. One flew a historic mission while the other died on a secret assignment that became the subject of a best-selling book and popular movie.

For the full story, visit SDSU Alumni.