Students at Koloa School on Thursday paid tribute to a special alumnus who loved the school for more than 60 years.
Under a double rainbow during a ceremony in the school’s courtyard, fifth-grade Junior Police Officers (JPOs) hoisted up the school’s flag pole an American flag that not so long ago draped the coffin of Augustine “Jiggs” Cataluna, a student at the school in the 1930s and Army World War II combat veteran.
The flag and the school both had special significance to Cataluna, family members said.
Cataluna died at age 85 at his home in Hanama’ulu on April, 7, and was buried with full military honors at the Kauai Veteran’s Cemetery in Hanapape.
Before he passed on, he had instructed his wife, Dorothy Cataluna, to give school officials the flag that was to be draped over his coffin.
Cataluna had cherished memories of growing up in Koloa and attending the school, and wanted to “give back” something of importance to the school, family members said.
Family members said he loved America, and that the flag, aside from his family, symbolized what was most dear to his heart.
The 180 students, these from a preschool at the school and those ranging from kindergarten to the fifth grade, school teachers, administrators and staff, and others, gathered in the courtyard to pay respects to Cataluna during a 10-minute ceremony that started at 8 a.m., according to school representative Joy Chisholm.