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30,000 expected to honor fallen

Memorial event set for Sunday at Woodward Park

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30,000 expected to honor fallen

Video of volunteers putting the 7,000 crosses in place Friday at Woodward Park.

hromero/


POSTED May 25, 2013 2:23 a.m.

Woodward Park is a long way from the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan.

On Sunday those who paid the ultimate price in the Global War on Terror in those faraway lands are being honored and remembered during the 10th annual Memorial Day Weekend Commemoration  taking place at the South Manteca park.

More than 7,000 crosses represent each of the fallen as do the names on the Traveling Tribute created by the Welcome Home Heroes Foundation. There are also more than 60 large portraits of those who died from the Northern San Joaquin Valley region including Escalon High graduate James Layton.

It is Layton’s images that appear on the 12th Traveling Tribute panel being dedicated at 3 p.m. Sunday.

Layton, 22, was a Navy corpsman killed in action September 8, 2009 near the village of Ganjgal in Afghanistan while serving during Operation Enduring Freedom.  Layton was with a Marine training unit supporting Afghan troops when they were ambushed by insurgents.

Layton left a secure position to provide medical assistance to Marine 1st Lt. Michael Johnson. He, Johnson and two other Marines died in the attack. Layton was tending to Johnson’s wounds when both soldiers were killed.

Upwards of 30,000 people from throughout Northern California are expected to participate in the events throughout Sunday at Woodward Park. It has been described by military leaders have described as “the biggest Memorial Day Weekend commemoration on the West Coast.”

The most emotional ceremony of the day is the 3 p.m. dedication. Gold Star families are escorted in a motorcade by nearly a hundred motorcyclists comprised of former military personnel and Manteca Police. They enter the park through a line of more than 300 American flags held by volunteers who step up for the task just minutes prior to their arrival. As the motorcade makes it way to the Traveling Tribute there is a military flyover.

Sunday starts 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 and 60 other volunteers. 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.

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.

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