Hoover-ites in the News

Hoover Grad Ted Giannoulas, aka the San Diego Chicken, Celebrated with 3 Pages Of Photos in U-T San Diego 

One of Hoover High School’s most famous graduates is a man whose face is rarely recognized. Because he’s Ted Giannoulas, Class of 1972 (pictured right), the man inside the well-known San Diego Chicken costume. Over his 41-year career as an entertainer at sporting events, rock concerts and parades we’ve seen him as the KGB Chicken, San Diego Chicken, Famous Chicken, or even the Famous San Diego Chicken.

Chris Jenkins’ keepsake article in the June 25, 2015 edition of The San Diego Union-Tribune features 14 photos and spans three pages of Sports, a pretty remarkable feat for a fellow who wears big floppy feet and a feathered suit topped by a sleepy-eyed outsize head. At age 61 is Giannulous slowing down? Jenkins asks. Hardly. “Inside that suit,” says Giannoulas, “I still feel like I’m in my 20s, like I could live forever.”

Hoover Cardinal Lineman Dick Chase, Class of ’43, Finally Receives Bronze Star

Service in Germany and Japan Earned Private Chase the Award, But the Medal Presentation Was 70 Years in Coming 

By John Adkins ‘72

Dick Chase still throws a large shadow at age 90.  His hands are still strong enough to crush most others.  You’ll see a wry smile as he watches you realize this.

Milking cows at a diary farm in Mission Valley each day before school no doubt contributed to both his strength and his sense of humor.

Dick was a lineman for the Hoover Cardinals in the fall of 1943.  “I really enjoyed football,” he says, “and would have liked to play just a few more months before graduating.”

But that was not to be.

While others we being fitted for Cap and Gowns, Dick was now fitted for green fatigues and a heavy helmet.  Instead of Senior Prom he was being taught the proper care and feeding of a trailer-mounted cannon.

“I think the Electric Shop teacher ‘ratted-me-out,” Dick remarks, quietly sending word to the Draft Board that a very healthy Hoover High School Senior had enough credits to graduate early.  Then, there’s that wry smile again.

Dick arrived in Europe for the last two weeks at the infamous Battle of the Bulge.  His group continued on through Belgium, Holland, and Germany, finally helping to secure and assist prisoners in a Czechoslovakia camp.  It was there (he realized later) that his group qualified for the Bronze Star Award of Merit.   However, no surprise, the award never came.

After completing their assignment in Europe, Dick’s group was then sent to Japan to secure an Army base on the mainland.  As there was less threat for combat there, Dick was volunteered to operate a bulldozer for the daily needs of the base.  “Nobody else wanted anything to do with the dozer,” he recalls.  “It was bigger than anything we had on the farm.  But I did OK with it.”

His new assignment paid off in civilian life.  Knowing how to operate heavy earth-moving equipment gave him a new skill to take home after the war.  Dick operated excavation rigs all over (now bustling) San Diego County.

Subsequently, getting married and starting a family, he kind of forgot about that Bronze Star for a while.  For almost 70 years.

Reading in the newspaper of a soldier receiving a belated award for a similar stint of service, Dick started calling friends, family and government offices to clarify his status and qualifications.

“It was impressive to watch him work so hard, he did it all himself,” says his wife Marie (Hoover ’48).

Dick made his case.  U.S. Representative Susan Davis then took up the cause and “got the ball rolling.”

Responding to Dick’s appeal, Davis commented that it was “not a job duty but rather an honor” to see that veterans are properly awarded.  Recalling how her father served in Europe at the same time as Dick Chase, she said she was thankful for the effort of all soldiers that allowed her father to come home safely.

So, one day after Veterans Day, Nov. 12, 2016, PFC Richard Chase received his Bronze Star for Meritorious Service in front of four generations (of five) of his own family.  Many friends (including some fellow Hoover classmates) also attended.  On display were many personal pictures of his time in service, a uniform jacket and a pair of dog tags.

The ceremony was brought to order by his great granddaughter; leading the audience in The Pledge of Allegiance. A four-member Color Guard from March Air Force Base provided flag bearers.

General Suzan Henderson provided the award and read aloud a proclamation.  Congresswoman Davis attached the medal to his chest.  Dick Chase stood quietly, looking down slightly, no sign of that “wry smile.”

After many congratulations, family and friends sat down to a Bar-B-Q picnic in a (very) sunny park in San Diego’s Allied Gardens, not so far from the site of the old Mission Valley dairy farm of his youth.