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SERVING AMERICA Tribute to All Who Gave Their Lives for Our Country

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Manteca Bulletin Ripon Bulletin


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Serving America

Saturday, May 27, 2017

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Serving America

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HONORING THE FALLEN

Today through mid-June uThe placement and display of 7,000 crosses representing the fallen in the Global War of Terror along with the photos of those who have died serving America combating terror from the greater Northern San Joaquin Valley region are on display 24/7 at Dell’Osso Farms along Interstate 5 in Lathrop. Saturday, May 27 u10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Fill the Helmet at Main Street and Yosemite Avenue in downtown Manteca near the Manteca Mural Society Veterans Mural Project to help fund the fifth and final mural honoring World War I veterans. May 25 thru May 29 uRemembering Our Fallen tribute to the 750 Californians who have died in the Global War on Terror from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily at the Manteca Veterans Center on Moffat Boulevard.

HIME ROMERO/The Bulletin

Monday, May 29 u10 a.m. Manteca Veterans of Foreign Wars and Manteca American Legion Post Memorial Day ceremonies in conjunction with the Remembering Our Fallen tribute at the Manteca Veterans Center on Moffat Boulevard. u10 a.m. Ripon Cemetery Memorial Day Ceremonies conducted by Ripon Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1051 and Ripon American Legion Post 190 u10 a.m. Manteca American Legion Memorial Day ceremonies at East Union Cemetery including posting of colors, reading of the names of locals killed in action. u10 a.m. Park View Cemetery Memorial Day ceremonies at the French Camp Road cemetery off Highway 99 conducted by American Legion Karl Ross Post 16 of Stockton. u11 a.m. Lathrop Memorial Day ceremonies at Manuel Valverde Park at 15557 Fifth St., Lathrop

Pastor Mike Dillman organized the placement of 7,000 crosses at Dell’Osso Farms along Interstate 5 to remember the 7,000 Americans who have fallen in the Global War on Terror, The crosses and accompanying memorial will be in place through midJune.

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Things could be worse EDITOR’S NOTE: The following editorial by George Murphy Jr. first appeared in his column, “Batting the Breeze,” in the Dec. 28, 1950 issue of the Manteca Bulletin. Murphy, who has since passed away, was publisher of the Bulletin at the time. He also was serving on board a ship when Pearl Harbor was attacked 76 years ago on Dec. 7, 1941.

W

e would like to apologize to all servicemen — it seems we have been developing a case of civilianitis. And that means a lot of crying about life on the home front, in case you didn’t know what civilianitis means. We were lying in bed the other night worrying about this and that — then we heard our conscience open fire. Our conscience made a little speech like this:

You’re worried, aren’t you, Murph? You’ve got big problems. Things look tough next year. No new cars, maybe; so perhaps there’s no automobile advertising. And that’s a good chunk of your revenue, isn’t it. And you’ve got big payments at the bank to meet, and maybe you can’t get enough newsprint to put out enough pages to make the payments. Things are GEORGE sure rough. MURPHY JR. But how about the boys Pearl Harbor survivor in Korea, Murph? What have they got to lose? Not much. They don’t own anything. No, they haven’t much to lose — just their lives. Yeah, you sure got it rough. Worried SEE MURPHY, PAGE 5

Thank you for your courage and our freedom

HIME ROMERO/Bulletin file photo

Muralist Art Mortimer holds up a rendering of the Korean War veterans’ mural that is behind him on the Manteca Bedquarters wall in downtown Manteca. The mural was dedicated in 2015.

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Saturday, May 27, 2017

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MURPHY FROM PAGE 4

about the Roe Bowl and whether Cal can win one for a change. That’s a big problem, Murph. How many people in the Rose Bowl? About a hundred thousand, maybe? That’s about one person in each 1,500 in this great nation. Pretty small percentage, isn’t it? Ever stop to think that about one in each 1,500 is saving your comfortable neck? That’s right. There are only about 100,000 of our men in Korea. And how many men are 42,000? Why, that’s no crowd at all. But that’s a lot of men to stop bullets in a little place like Korea. And that’s how many casualties we’ve had over there so far. It might be a tough year all right. Just as you’re thinking — no gasoline, shoe shortage, high prices for eggs, coffee and so on. You don’t think there’s much to look forward to, do you, Murph? The trouble with you is, you forget too easily. You forget that this war is just as tough as the last one — or maybe tougher. But you don’t think it’s so bad because you’re not in it. What does a casualty list mean to you? Nothing but a bunch of figures. Just a bunch of guys you don’t know and never heard of before. Well just remember one thing. Those guys are just about the same as they were the last time. And they’re having the same horrible things happen to them, and you don’t give a hoot because you’re busy worrying about life on the home front. Think back a few years, Murph. Yeah, those guys are just the same. Remember Sam Neville? He was the first man you saw die at Pearl Harbor. You remember Sam, he was that guy in C Division you always thought looked awfully old to be only a third class radioman. Remember how you were standing on the second deck and watched Sam run down that ladder? He slipped,

Photo contributed

The Korean War Memorial in Washington, D.C.

didn’t he, and was wedged between the ladder steps flat on his back. And the guys at Pearl Harbor were panicky, weren’t they? And they came down that ladder behind Sam, and one by one they stepped in his face. And you watched them crushed by his own shipmates. That was panic, Murph, and don’t you think for a minute that there wasn’t plenty of panic when the Chinese broke through in Korea. And there was some nice old guy like Sam Neville there, too, and don’t forget it. Remember Terlizzi? Always good for a laugh — the ship’s comedian. But he wasn’t laughing the last time you saw him, was he? Remember when that torpedo plane hit and SEE MURPHY, PAGE 6

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MURPHY FROM PAGE 5

Photo courtesy Library of Congress

American forces land at Incheon Harbor one day after the Battle of Incheon began.

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its gas tank blew up? You looked up quick to secondary aft when you felt the heat. He was swaying back and forth on the gun platform, his mouth working like he as trying to talk. He still had his phones on, didn’t he? But no clothes. They were burned off and his flesh hung from his body in strips. He was dead when you got up there, wasn’t he? Somewhere in Korea is a guy just like Terlizzi. Maybe he burned up in tank, a jeep, or an airplane. It doesn’t matter where or how — but he got burned up. Maybe he was just number 31,467 on some casualty list but to some people he was a nice guy with a sense of humor and had a name like Terlizzi. And Boats Powell. You remember him. A quiet guy with a crooked smile, but one of the best little gunners in the business. That torpedo plane got him, too, didn’t it Murph? And you took a chipping iron and scraped him away from his 20-millimeter gun where his flesh had fused with the metal. A lot of guys in Korea have been scraped up by their buddies, and you might remember that once in awhile. And what about Smooge Scroeder? Used to be a wrestler in a carnival and just as tough as they come. But he was always good fort a laugh when the going got rough, wasn’t he? Take that night when you guys on the fantail heard your first big shell scream over your heads. Smooge shouted: “I’m a lover, nit a fighter”, and your nerves felt better after a good laugh at his joke. And when that shell hit, Murph, you both went down together. Remember? Only Schroeder didn’t get up. He was cut in two by a big chunk of hot metal. And you thought you were a dead pigeon because you didn’t know that most of the blood and bits of flesh on you were Schroeder’s and not yours. That’s the night it first dawned on you that war is a bloody mess. You used to think people got killed with neat little bullet holes.

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They don’t, though, do they? They usually get smashed up and there have been over 45,000 smashed up already in Korea. And they claim this is just the start of the war. And there are probably a few guys in Korea like Jack McBride. You remember Jack, don’t you Murph? You never liked him too well — a kind of a wise guy. But when the chips were down he always came through, didn’t he? You’ve always wondered what made Jack do what he did the night the shell hit your gun. He was up in the director tub and lost both legs at the knees. But somehow he crawled out of the tub, dragged himself across the deck in front of you, crawled down the ladder into chief’s quarters, and backed into a corner where he died. And when they carried you down to the chief’s quarters, the first thing you saw in the dim light was Jack. And you felt a little sick to your stomach, didn’t you? Wonder how many guys in Korea are going to feel the same way — if they haven’t already. And when they set your stretcher down on the table you didn’t feel very funny, did you? the doc cut your pants away and you could see the bones sticking through the flesh. You turned away and saw Sig Hanna on the table next to you. Yeah, Murph, it was Hanna, that little redheaded coxswain. He was half propped up against a stanchion and you could see his guts oozing through holes in his shirt. Remember how he leaned over a little an said to you: How ya doing, Gunner, isn’t this a helluva a way to make a living?” And in 20 minutes he was dead. And Korea is full off guys — just good old American guys that can still crack a smile 20nminuts before they die. And you’re worried about the price of eggs. Quit worrying. Forget it. You never had it so good.

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Serving America

Saturday, May 27, 2017

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Kansas farm boy survives Pearl Harbor The hottest commodity in Honolulu on Dec. 7, 2011 wasn’t a rock star or the latest high tech gadget. It was a former farm boy from Kansas and 120 other men whose acts of bravery still resonate on the American consciousness. Everywhere they went in Honolulu people thanked them, asked for their autograph and took pictures. They were the 100 of the remaining 7,000 survivors of the attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941. The Kansas farm boy was former Manteca resident Adolph Kuhn who now resides in Oceanside. Kuhn was among three Pearl Harbor survivors who spoke at programs in 2011 and then were honored with 120 of their comrades at ceremonies exactly 70 years after the attack described by President Franklin D. Roosevelt as “a day that will live in infamy.” “It’s all vivid in my mind,” Kuhn said of that fateful day. “I speak at schools and at college classes all the time and I never use notes.” Kuhn was a metal smith assigned to Ford Island naval base when the attack took place at 7:55 in the morning. He was actually on overnight leave in Honolulu and was getting ready to go to church when the attack started. He remembered running outside and jumping into a tumble seat of a Model A Ford carrying two other sailors to head back to the base. They were dodging bullets from Japanese planes as they scrambled to the boat landing only to find the docks ablaze and parts of the harbor on fire from burning oil. Kuhn along with 11 other sailors saw a small fishing boat just a bit off shore.

They waded through the water and got into it determined to reach the places they were responsible for at the naval air station. Bullets struck the boat’s floorboard causing it to sink and dumping the sailors in the water. Kuhn remembers he started dog paddling as he couldn’t really swim. Along the way he found debris to help him stay afloat by clinging to it and then letting go until he reached shore. The debris was from ships as well as dismembered bodies of fellow sailors and Marines. By some chance he reached the submerged farthest extension of the concrete boat ramp used for launching seaplanes off Ford Island Base. Just as he reached it he recalled hearing the whistle of torpedoes heading toward targets in Battleship Row. When the torpedoes hit the sides of the ships, Kuhn said they leapt out of the water like a big whale breeching. He could hear the screeching of bulkheads being torn apart while seeing the bodies of sailors flying out into the burning oilcoated water. There were 2,390 casualties that day. Kuhn and others made it to the island where they tried valiantly to move planes out of the line of fire by pulling them with tractors. Kuhn and others were then enlisted by officers in a futile attempt to try to pull survivors from the nearby sinking Arizona. Kuhn has published his memoirs in a book entitled “Adolph Kuhn: An American Journey” (Create Space 2010). It is based upon Kuhn’s personal interviews, his poignant poetry, short stories, and daily diary entries dating back to 1939.

DENNIS WYATT/Bulletin file photo

Adolph Kuhn posed in 2000 next to an American flag he displayed every day outside of his Manteca home.

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Saturday, May 27, 2017

Flags over Manteca honors sacrifices past & future B y DENN IS WYA TT

celebration. Twenty-one years ago there was no community celebration except for the annual Manteca Kiwanis pancake breakfast because there was a dearth of volunteers. Adolph Kuhn — a survivor of the Japanese attack at Pearl Harbor — led a rag-tag collection of volunteers who took time away from their families and Fourth festivities to parade up and down Main Street’s sidewalks flying dozens of flags to pay homage to the invaluable liberties and freedoms we enjoy. Since then not only has Manteca not missed an opportunity to celebrate our nation’s independence, but they have gone a step further through the Manteca Chamber of Commerce’s Flags over Manteca effort. The community raised $62,000 in less than six weeks after Sept. 11, 1991 to purchase 2,400 flags that happen to be symbolic of the number of men that died Dec.

T h e Bu lletin

There was a time not too long ago in Manteca when nearly three dozen American flags popped up in holes in the sidewalk along the four downtown blocks of Yosemite Avenue. The flags that appeared Memorial Day, Veteran’s Day and the Fourth of July weren’t just flags. Many of them were coffin flags that provided the final honor for men who died during the Vietnam War. Twenty-one years ago then Manteca Councilman Jay Smart decided Manteca needed to have a Fourth of July parade of some type. So he got several flags, talked some people to jump into his Army surplus Jeep and proceeded to make numerous drives up and down Main Street on Independence Day. Smart and those with him in the Jeep helped revive the Manteca Fourth of July

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Manteca Mayor Steve DeBrum and Sunrise Kiwanis member is a regular among volunteers that help place 2,400 flags along Manteca streets.

7, 1941 at Pearl Harbor. It is an ideal way for us to really give pause on what we have in this country and the great sacrifices made so we can nonchalantly go about living in daily routines of self-absorption even in the aftermath of Sept. 11. Seeing the flag should make us all stop and think but it doesn’t. Perhaps seeing 2,400 flags lining the streets as we go about our business on special occasions throughout the year makes us ponder why so many were willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for people they didn’t even know or who were yet to be born. The last war to touch Manteca deeply — the Vietnam War — cost the lives of 17 young men. Brock Elliott — by virtue of being the first to die from Manteca — came

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to represent his fellow soldiers from the Sandy Plains in that war. Brock by all accounts was a typical kid. He fished and swam in irrigation ditches near where a school now stands in his honor. He cruised Yosemite Avenue in high school and hung out from time-to-time at the drive-in before joining the Marines. War is not behind us. That was made clear when the Twin Towers came tumbling down Sept. 11. And we lost another Mantecan — Marine Cpl. Charles Palmer II — in the Global War on Terror. Kids you see today riding skate boards, playing baseball or simply hanging out on a warm Manteca day may one day be called to defend freedom as Brock was. Flags over Manteca are for boys like them and for men like Brock.

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Serving America

Saturday, May 27, 2017

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Jimmie Connors: A man who gave all This story first appeared four years ago Memorial Day weekend in the Manteca Bulletin By JAMES BURNS The Bulletin

Lee Herren might be retired, but try explaining that to his wife. The former Bay Area-based consultant has been a busy man as of late, spending his morning and afternoon hours sifting through old files, microfilm and yearbooks. His muse: James Ralph Con-

nors, the namesake for Jimmie Connors VFW Post 6311 and a popular local figure who was killed in World War II. “This started out to be just a short historical brief about our post,” wrote Herren, the post’s historian, “and turned out to be a research project that is still ongoing.” Herren has been a regular at the Manteca Library and even spent some time with the front-office staff at Manteca High School. There, he thumbed through a 75-year-old yearbook while SEE CONNORS, PAGE 21

With Honor and Gratitude WE REMEMBER

HIME ROMERO/Bulletin file photo

Jimmie Connors Post No. 6311 Veterans of Foreign Wars Post Commander Carlon Perry, left, and Lee Herren hold up the post proclamation from the 1940s.

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7

The BulleTin-Weekend Edition • May 25, 2013

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Serving America Thank We Treat Your Family Like It Ford Was Our Own America We Thank You for your “PhilServing Waterford’s Manteca & Exotic High Line” 11

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Serving America

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Sammy Davis’ lesson in black & white Editor’s note: This is an abbreviated version of a column about the Manteca High Vietnam Moving Wall ceremonies that former Manteca High student and Congressional Medal of Honor recipient Sammy Davis appeared at that was published in March of 1993.

T

he truth — and what makes a man a man — is often found in the most horrific situations. Sammy Davis understands that.

And so do countless other men and women who have served under this country’s flag defending the fragile concepts encompassed in two words that most Americans take for granted – DENNIS WYATT “liberty” and “freeEditor dom”. True honor is born in acts of courage. Davis made that clear on March 19, SEE WYATT, PAGE 15

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1993 during Moving Wall ceremonies at Manteca High. As 5,000 teary-eyed people watched, Davis dressed in his Army best embraced Gwyndell Holloway who was wearing his old Army fatigues. Applause drowned out what words the two were exchanging. The two hadn’t seen each other for 26 years. Then, regaining his composure, Davis turned toward the bleachers where Manteca High students sat. “What you have to understand,” Davis started in a clear even voice, “Is all this bull---- about prejudice and racism is just what I said — bull----.” As tears of joy streamed down the two men’s faces, the applause took on a thunderous surge. Teens were wiping tears from their eyes. Marines in their best dress blues were blinking uncontrollably. A World War II veteran who had seen the worst that Hitler’s armies had to offer was smiling broadly with a tear streaming down his left cheek. Adults and children alike were unashamedly teary-eyed as the two men embraced. “We became brothers in Vietnam,” Davis added, as strong

Saturday, May 27, 2017

applause continued to provide the music for the emotion-choked moment. It didn’t matter that one was white and the other black. All that mattered was the fact they were both human beings caught in the most trying of circumstances. Twenty-six years earlier when the severely wounded Holloway hollered out for help from across a deep Vietnam river as 1,500 enemy troops were advancing on 90 Americans; Davis didn’t worry about the color of Holloway’s skin. Nor did he worry about the fact he couldn’t swim or that heavy incoming fire threatened to end his life at any second. Davis helped fire rounds back at the enemy located some 25 meters away when mortars hit American artillery positions and gravely injured his comrades. Between valiant efforts to keep the enemy from advancing, Davis grabbed an air mattress and struck out across the river to rescue his wounded comrades one by one. Each time he reached the far shore; Davis stood up and opened fire on the enemy to prevent them from advancing and finishing off the three soldiers. His heroics continued after he pulled the last man back across SEE WYATT, PAGE 16

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Serving America

Saturday, May 27, 2017

WYATT FROM PAGE 15

HIME ROMERO/Bulletin file photo

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the river. Davis and Holloway learned a basic lesson that day that we all tend to forget - our differences aren’t what count. What matters are the things that unite us. They both probably knew that deep down before being sent to Vietnam as 19 year-olds. But it took the horror of war to drive the point home. Days later in a military hospital, Holloway had the chance to return the favor. Davis’ body temperature was at 106 degrees. His blood was curdling. The Army hospital was low on blood. The doctors were about to give up on Davis and were going to wheel him into a corridor for what they thought was an inevitable fate. But Holloway would hear nothing of it. He demanded that the doctors give Davis a direct transfusion from his veins. As the fever threatened to tighten its grip on Davis, the precious gift of life flowed from Holloway to the former Manteca resident. They never saw each other again until 26 years later when another incredible man — now retired Manteca High teacher and fellow veteran Harry Nagy —

brought them together for that inspiring spring afternoon on the same field where Davis once played football for the Buffaloes. Davis has dedicated his life to one clear and poignant message — the freedoms we cherish, yet take for granted, in this land exist only because of the men and women who have been willing to spill their blood for them over the past 253 years. Freedom isn’t something you get for free, nor is it automatic, and it certainly isn’t a forever thing unless someone is willing to stand up against the forces that threatened to take it away from not just us but all of America’s brothers and sisters around the globe. The forces of evil may ebb but they never vanish. All it takes is for good men to stand idly by for evil to extinguish the flickering flames of liberty and freedom. Those two concepts are an aberration in the history of civilization. Evil, left unchecked, will snuff out those flames. When the final tally is taken, all that really matters is that we’re in this together. And that’s the truth — in black and white.

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17

Vietnam Wall: A salute to freedom Editor’s note: This is a story penned by the late Phil Bookman that was first published five years ago in the Bulletin on Memorial Day weekend. By Phil Bookman, The Woodbridge Writers Group

There are some places to which I am drawn, places that memory holds and cannot release. One such place is Normandy of D-Day June 6 infamy. Memorial days as celebrated in western countries such as the United States, Britain, France and the Netherlands, honor the fallen of wars and their deeds. One Memorial Day, I attended services in Arnhem, the Netherlands, site of “A Bridge Too Far.” And then, there was Dachau,

the Nazi extermination camp near Munich with its notorious welcoming sign, “Arbeit macht frei,” work will set you free. Of course, it didn’t for hundreds of thousands. Yet, through the years, I knew there was another memorial to which I was being drawn. The Vietnam Memorial. I was, and still am, unsettled about that war and grieved for the young men who died fighting it. I think of our participation in that war as a chapter many years in the making and a story still being told. It was the story of once young men and women and the victims and the 57,939 whose names were etched SEE VIETNAM, PAGE 18

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Serving America

Saturday, May 27, 2017

VIETNAM FROM PAGE 17

into a stretch of black marble gouged into the fine earth of the Washington Mall. They were among the more than 500,000 sent to Vietnam. “It’s time we recognized that ours was in truth a noble cause,” said then President Ronald Reagan. I can’t agree with that and I wonder if that view would be shared by most of those whose names appeared on that black marble. I have to think that if there was anything noble about that war, it was not the cause, but the men and boys who did what their country said was their duty. If there is a nobility about dying in war, it is to be found defending country, freedom or family. It is not

to be found in questionable wars with questionable aims. Vietnam was not a World War 1 or World War 2. This was the cause where the end never could justify the means. Almost from the beginning, we tried to impose an American style of democracy on a nation that had no understanding of democracy as we understand it. It never worked, opposing a people that already had been fighting the French for 35 years, and winning. Frank McCulloch, former editor of the Sacramento Bee, a Time magazine bureau chief in Vietnam, and one of the most revered names in journalism, said this: The society of the north had no problem with public support and that it was defending its homeland. They were a war people 1,000 years ago. They are a war people today. They

We saw mud on their faces and tears being shed and saw blood on their chests. We saw eyes that saw no more. We saw ponchos over bodies and bodies placed in bags and then in flagdraped coffins for the quiet trip home to their native land, a land torn by its own war, mostly a non-shooting war, but a war nevertheless. Then, the coffins would return to the Mantecas or Stocktons, to their native soil. There would be no marching bands and few presentations of medals. Some years later, I would find myself in front of that black monument where for the longest time I kept my hand pressed against it, tears from my eyes. I looked not for an individual name, but drawing all names into my being as I mourned for the lost souls.

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just licked us hands down in most one-on-one situations.” David Halberstam, a great journalist, in his book, “The Best and the Brightest,” said this: “The North had become invulnerable to bombing. Bringing in more combat troops would bring the same problems encountered by the French who suffered a humiliating defeat at Dien Bien Phu.” after which the French said “enough” and pulled out of Vietnam leaving more than 7,000 men to the mercies of the north. Most were never seen again. In Vietnam we followed our boys through the moving pictures of handheld cameras and the words of the media people who walked with them. And we watched as they walked through valleys of death. We saw them hug the ground as bullets and mortars ripped overhead.

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u100% of the hospitals are open and fully staffed, compared to 35% before the war. uElections are taking place in every major city, and city councils are in place. uSewer and water lines are installed in every major city. uOver 60,000 police are patrolling the streets. uOver 100,000 Iraqi civil defense police are securing the country. uOver 80,000 Iraqi soldiers are patrolling the streets side by side with US soldiers. uOver 400,000 people have telephones for the first time ever. uStudents are taught field

LETTER FROM PAGE 19

war. uOver 1,500 schools have been renovated and rid of the weapons stored there so education can occur. uThe port of Uhm Qasar was renovated so grain can be offloaded from ships faster. uThe country had its first 2 billion barrel export of oil in August. uOver 4.5 million people have clean drinking water for the first time ever in Iraq. uThe country now receives two times the electrical power it did before the war.

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sanitation and hand washing techniques to prevent the spread of germs. uAn interim constitution has been signed. uGirls are allowed to attend school. uTextbooks that don’t mention Saddam are in the schools for the first time in 30 years. Don’t believe for one second that these people do not want us there. I have met many, many people from Iraq that want us there, and in a bad way. They say they will never see the freedoms we talk about but they hope their children will. We are doing a good job in Iraq and I

challenge anyone, anywhere to dispute me on these facts. So If you happen to run into John Kerry, be sure to give him my email address and send him to Denison, Iowa. This soldier will set him straight. If you are like me and very disgusted with how this period of rebuilding has been portrayed, email this to a friend and let them know there are good things happening. Ray Reynolds, SFr Iowa Army National Guard 234th Signal Battalion

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Serving America

CONNORS FROM PAGE 9

toting a large black-and-white photo of Connors. The former Manteca Union High School graduate and National Guardsman is pictured in his formal dress, head cocked to the side with a dark pencil mustache. His features are soft, as if air-brushed. He was a serviceman who missed his calling in Hollywood. “They couldn’t believe how good looking he was,” Herren said. More than 70 years after his tragic wartime death, Jimmie Connors continues to live in conversation and allegiance. He is the namesake for the Manteca/Lathrop/French Camp VFW post. By all accounts, Jimmie Connors was a go-getter and a natural leader whose death came far too soon. James Ralph Connors was born on June 6, 1919 to Mr. and Mrs. Ralph T. Connors, and graduated from Manteca Union High School – now known simply as Manteca High – shortly after his 19th birthday on June 10, 1938. Connors was a man about campus, according to archives at the

Saturday, May 27, 2017

high school and library. The 1937-38 yearbook paints Connors as an outgoing, overachieving teenager. He was a two-sport varsity athlete, starring for the football and basketball teams. Herren said Connors was something of a football hero, recalling passages in his senior yearbook that used the passage “thundering down the field.” Connors was also involved in the Block M Club and was president of the Boys League, a social club. He came from a large family, most of whom called Manteca home. Bonnie Simas, whose husband owns Fantastic Collectibles on Center Street, was Connors’ great niece. Her mother was Connors’ first cousin. “I knew him through stories. I was very young at the time,” Simas said. “I just vaguely remember going to the cemetery where my great aunt would lay flowers. That’s basically all I really knew.” Simas says she was 4 or 5 at the time of that visit to Park View Cemetery and Funeral Home. She was born in 1943 – approximately a year before Connors was killed in combat. Connors joined the National

Guard’s 185th Infantry in the early 1940s. In March 1941, the 185th was federalized and became part of the Army’ 40th Infantry Division as its new “Company G.” Connors would travel the West Coast, training in San Luis Obispo and Fort Lewis, Washington. In August of 1942, his company was transported to Hawaii to begin jungle warfare training. They were preparing for a tour in the Southwest Pacific. From September 1942 to late 1943, Connors remained on the Hawaiian Islands. Shortly after the new year, “Company G” received its orders – this group, comprised mostly of men from Manteca, Escalon

and Stockton, was headed to the Solomon Islands. Connors would die on May 7, 1944 during a battle in the Southwest Pacific. That same day, the U.S. forces secured the Cape Hoskins Plantation airstrip on New Britain Island in a mission that saw both American and Japanese casualties. It’s unclear if Connors was killed in that battle. He was awarded the Purple Heart posthumously, and in 1946 the Jimmie Connors VFW Post 6311 was created. Twenty six names appear on the charter.

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Saturday, May 27, 2017

The price of freedom: 7,000 white crosses DENNIS WYATT The Bulletin

Twenty-eight years ago this weekend Charles O. Palmer II was looking forward to wearing the Buffalo Green gown and mortar with pride as part of the Manteca High Class of 1989. By all accounts, the good-humored Palmer loved life. He proudly represented the Buffaloes as a running back on the football field, wrestled, ran track, and was a trumpet player in the band. Palmer was proud to be a part of the Manteca High tradition. He’s part of a different team now.

A team that has paid a heavy price to assure that his son — and the rest of us — can be free. That team is comprised of more than 850,000 men and women who have died serving America in combat. You can catch a glimpse of Palmer in his Marine dress blues through mid-June at the memorial to the fallen in the Global War on Terror at Dell’Osso Farms along Interstate 5 in Lathrop. Palmer’s photo plus 60 of his fallen comrades in the War on Terror from the 209 region are part of the display Nearby are the 7,000 simple white crosses representing sons, daugh-

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ters, fathers, mothers, husbands, wives, brothers, and sisters who have paid the ultimate price in Iraq and Afghanistan. In another time they could very well have flocked to a place like Woodward Park in the middle of a three-day weekend such as today to enjoy a picnic, watch as their kids gleefully scale playground equipment or to play a quick game of pick-up hoops with friends. Glance at the crosses and you have to ask yourself what kind of person gives up all of that to face death in some god-forsaken corner of the world? You’ll hear and see the answer today, Sunday, Memorial Day, and the days that follow. It won’t be in the speeches although they will be powerful and moving. It won’t be in displays of a military might whether it is in the form of C-130s in a missing man formation or in helicopter gunships. Instead you’ll see it in people worshipping as they please. You’ll hear it in the laughter of children free to be children. You’ll see it in the faces of men and women who aren’t afraid to venture out. You’ll notice it in the fact that people of all ethnicities and faiths can gather without fear of govern-

Charles O. Palmer II

ment reprisals. Those who laid down their lives understood that preachers don’t give us freedom of religion, that reporters don’t give us freedom of the press, that poets don’t give us freedom of speech, that campus organizers don’t give us freedom to assemble, that lawyers don’t give us the right to a fair trial, and that politicians don’t give us the right to vote. Our freedoms were secured — and have been preserved — by the citizen-soldier. SEE PALMER, PAGE 23

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PALMER FROM PAGE 22

Palmer did not want to die nor did anyone else whose sacrifice is remembered today at Memorial Day ceremonies. Deep down every solider knows the price they may be asked to pay. It is something they accept not just out of a sense of duty and brotherhood with their fellow soldiers but because they understand that if someone was not be willing to die it would give tyrants and evil the ability to snuff out the flickering candle of freedom and return the world back to the day where the elite were all equal and everyone else was chattel. Palmer understood all of that when he made the decision to rejoin

the Marines after being a civilian for 12 years following his first enlistment that started a year after he walked across the stage at Gus Schmiedt Field to receive his high school diploma. He wasn’t doing it for the money. He was doing it to be a part of something bigger than him and to do something important with his life. On that fateful day in Iraq 10 years ago the 36-year-old Palmer volunteered to go on a combat mission in Anbar to replace the assigned gunner who had been injured. It was typical Palmer. His fellow Marines related how Palmer — upon hearing a fellow Marine was due to become a father and leave Iraq soon — insisted that his comrade go to the back so he could take over point.

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Terri and Chuck Palmer with home builder Toni Raymus during dedication ceremonies in May of 2014 for Charles Palmer Jr. Park in Manteca named in the honor of their son, a Manteca High graduate who died serving as a Marine in the Global War on Terror. Soldiers know all too well that war is hell. But they also know that life would be hell for their loved ones, friends, and people they’ve never met if citizen-soldiers didn’t answer call. Each cross and each name you’ll see at Dell’Osso Farms is a somber reminder of the price that must be paid if we are to remain a free

people. All of us are forever indebted to the selfish sacrifices made by veterans who returned home alive and the 850,000 that didn’t. To contact Dennis Wyatt, e-mail dwyatt@mantecabulleitn.com

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