HANFORD, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) – Every year, Central Valley families of fallen heroes gather outside the Hanford Civic Auditorium for a special tradition — to get their picture taken for a calendar honoring their loved ones.

“Each year we add the new families of fallen heroes to it,” said Jess Ahumada, founder of Gold Star Families of Central California. “They’re never to be forgotten. We don’t want no one to be forgotten.”

Ahumada founded the organization after his son, Spc. Christopher D. Frias, passed in 2009. 

“We’re a group of families that we don’t want no one to become a part of, but when we are part of it, we will take care of each other.”

They care for each other through their shared pain.

Photo of a previous calendar featuring fallen heroes from around the Central Valley.

“Everyone I’ve brought home keeps on reminding me of the day that we brought home my boy. And it hurts, but it comforts them,” Ahumada said. “When we brought him home, there was not very much done. So, I made it my personal goal to make sure all of our fallen heroes, law enforcement, first responders, are remembered.”

Local heroes like Porterville Fire Captain Ray Figueroa and firefighter Patrick Jones have a place here. 

“Unless you’ve actually gone through it, you’ve received the flag and you lost a loved one, it’s hard to actually understand what we go through,” said Ahumada. 

They can’t turn back time, but they can turn to the growing memorial — a calendar with Central Valley heroes for every month.

“I’ve brought home over 700 soldiers,” Ahumada said.