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30,000 expected for Memorial event

Raffling of two Ford Fiestas covering $60,000 event cost

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30,000 expected for Memorial event

Phil Waterford, left, of Manteca Ford is donating these two 2013 four-door Ford Fiesta sedans to be used as raffle prizes to raise the bulk of the $60,000 needed to stage the annual Memorial Day We...

HIME ROMERO/The Bulletin

POSTED April 29, 2013 1:16 a.m.

Upward of 30,000 people are expected to converge on Woodward Park in Manteca on May 26 for what military leaders have described as “the biggest Memorial Day Weekend commemoration on the West Coast.”

The salute to those who have fallen that also serves as a way of thanking those still living who have served America costs nearly $60,000 to stage.

The biggest fundraiser is the raffling of two 2013 four-door Ford Fiesta sedans being donated by Manteca Ford owner Phil Waterford. Only 300 tickets will be sold per car at $100 per ticket. Tickets can be purchased at Manteca Ford on North Main Street or the Place of refuge on Button Avenue.

Dillman has noted in the past the annual car donation by Waterford has made it possible to not just stage the event but to expand it as well. There is no charge to attend the Memorial Weekend event.

Medal of Honor

recipient attending

Dakota Meyer - the first living Marine in 38 years to receive the Congressional Medal of Honor - is participating in the 10th annual Memorial Day Weekend Commemoration.

Meyer along with Rear Admiral Donald Gintzig and former will be in Manteca to honor the memory of fallen hero Navy Corpsman James Layton of Riverbank.

Layton’s image will appear on the 12th panel of the Welcome Home Heroes Traveling Tributes that lists the names of more than 7,000 Americans who have fallen in the Global War on Terror.

More than 25,000 people from throughout Northern California attended last year’s event.

Meyer received the Medal of Honor based on his actions the day Layton, 22, was killed in action September 8, 2009 near the village of Ganjgal in Afghanistan while serving during Operation Enduring Freedom.

Meyer learned that three Marines and a Navy corpsman were missing after being ambushed by insurgents. He charged into an area known to be inhabited by insurgents and under enemy fire.

He ended up evacuating 12 wounded soldiers and provided cover for 24 marines and soldiers to escape death at the hands of what superior officers have called “a numerically superior and determined foe.”

During the battle, Meyer was credited with killing six enemies.

Meyer eventually found all four dead and stripped of their weapons, body armor, and radios. With the help of Afghan soldiers, he moved the bodies to a safer place where they could be evacuated.

Meyer will speak during the Evening of Honor dinner taking place on Friday, May 24, at the Place of Refuge. Tables will be sold for $500 as the main fundraiser to underwrite the $60,000 plus it cost to stage the annual commemoration.

The May 26 event startes with the 4th Annual “Wounded Warrior Christopher Braley 5K Run/Walk” at 8 a.m. sponsored by 24 Hour Fitness of Manteca.

The Welcome Home Heroes Traveling Tribute bearing the names of all of the fallen will be on display along with 7,000 crosses placed by the Manteca American Legion Post 249. Pastor Pat Schatzline will be speaking at the 10 a.m. Community Worship Service.

The Kids Energy Zone being sponsored by the South San Joaquin Irrigation District featuring dozens of large bounce houses is from noon to 5 p.m. There will be military helicopter landings including a Vietnam era Huey beginning at 9 a.m. There will be several military aircraft fly-overs throughout the day.

The main stage will be filled throughout the day with various entertainment groups including the Air Force Band of the Golden West from Travis Air Force Base.

Gold Star family members will be escorted by the motorcycle riders and welcomed by thousands at 3 p.m. before the dedication of the 12th panel.

A 6 p.m. ceremony will honor all veterans and wounded warriors.

The evening concert starts at 7:30 p.m. with Christian rock band The City Harmonic.

The 5th Annual “Marine Cpl. Charles O. Palmer II Memorial Car Show” with more than 400 entries will be on display throughout the day.

 The event concludes with fireworks at 9 p.m.

The entire event is open to the general public at no admission cost. Those attending that make a $1 donation will receive a commemorative dog tag.

To contact Dennis Wyatt, e-mail

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