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11 a.m. ceremonies set for downtown Vietnam War mural

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Volunteers who helped install the mural Monday were Bill Barnhart, Bill Buffington, Fred Gallegos, Roger La Presle, Gene Bedard, Ron Cruz and Jack Dauler. Not pictured is Alan Peterson.

GLENN KAHL/ The Bulletin/

POSTED May 16, 2017 12:10 a.m.

Manteca’s Vietnam War mural is being dedicated Saturday at 11 a.m. at the corner of Yosemite Avenue and Main Street.
The mural was put in place in one day Monday with workers, mostly from the Del Webb community, starting at 5:30 a.m. The mural was created by Muralist Linda Shrader and her daughter 29-year-old daughter Echo Westover, both of Yucca Valley.
Master Muralist Dave Gordon of Santa Rosa, creator of several existing Manteca murals, was on hand to assist in the placement of the artwork on the side of the downtown Bedquarters’ building.
“We both worked on the composition,” Shrader said of her daughter.  “We worked interchangeably being complete 100 percent partners.  When one of us would get tired, the other would pick up the brush.”
They began working on the Manteca mural project in mid-March, she said, taking only two days off in the process working 12 to 16 hours a day.  They finished the work last Thursday. Separate panels were put up with glue on the side of the building’s specially prepared mounting boards.  It was that same old red brick wall that had been painted over in World War II and listed the names of the Mantecans serving in the war.  The wall was the backdrop for a Chevron service station on that corner.
“We were accepted in December to do the project and put in nearly a thousand hours of work,” she added.
The artist said she didn’t begin to paint until she was 40.  
The seven volunteers installing the mural were forced to take a lunch break because of the hot sun and a rise in temperature that was causing the glue to dry prematurely and becoming unmanageable, according to project supervisor Ron Cruz of the Manteca Mural Society.
 Those who helped mount the mural included Bill Barnhart, Bill Buffington, Fred Gallegos, Roger La Presle, Gene Bedard, Jack Dauler and Alan Peterson along with Gordon.
The crew made a substantial effort to prepare the building wall for the mural. They cut and drilled out the structural material and then mounted the structure to the wall.  There had been an addition made to the building some years back and that addition was recessed several inches from the original building. The Vietnam mural had to straddle it to remain flat and square.
Additionally, the iron bracing that held up the original fire escape was left in place and stucco had been applied over it leaving several horizontal mounds that also had to be straddled. The end result should engender pride from the entire community, according to Barnhart.
On Saturday, Manteca Mural Society President Charleen Carroll will welcome those attending the dedication of the fourth in a series of five murals saluting Manteca’s veterans. Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 6311 members are providing the color guard.
Cruz, a Vietnam veteran known to the community as a member of Hafer’s Furniture sales staff and a longtime mail carrier, will lead the Pledge of Allegiance. Rich Benevidas, also a Vietnam vet, will sing the National Anthem.
Another Vietnam vet, Dave Steffy, is scheduled to deliver the invocation.
The Brock Elliott School Choir, under the direction of Melissa Manalastas, will lead the students in singing, “We will not Forget” and “Declaration.”
There will be a special set of declarations for the Gold Star Families in the community who lost a a son in the Vietnam War.
The keynote speaker will be Vietnam Veteran and Pastor Mike Dillman who has long led the support of veterans within the Manteca community. 
The Vietnam era began in August 1964 and continued until May 7, 1975 with 2,709,918 Americans serving in uniform. More than 58,000 Americans died including 17 from Manteca. Another 1,600 U.S. soldiers are still listed as missing in action.  Some two-thirds of the veterans were volunteers, not draftees. There were 258 Medals of Honor awarded including one that went to former Manteca High student and French Camp native Sammy Davis.  The typical infantryman experienced an average of 240 days of combat per year.
From March of 1962 until March of 1973, some 11,000 military women were stationed in Vietnam.  All were volunteers and 90 percent served as military nurses.  Five female Army nurses died over the course of the war including 52-year-old Lt. Col. Annie Ruth Graham, who served as a nurse in both World War II and the Korean War.
The Vietnam War was the first U.S. conflict that saw wide-scale tactical deployment of helicopters.  The Bell UH-1Iroquois was used extensively in counter-guerilla operations both as a troop carrier and as a gunship.  The “Huey” as it was called and became affectionately known – was successfully used in MEDEVAC and search and rescue roles, saving countless lives.
The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C., is dedicated to honor the more than 58,000 men and women who gave their lives or remain missing in action.  The Memorial is dedicated to honor the courage, sacrifice and devotion to duty and to country of all who answered the call to serve during one of the most divisive wars in U.S. history. 
Also, speaking to the audience on Saturday will be Manteca Mayor Steve DeBrum, Major General Eldon Requa and Cruz.

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