Gordon Thomson by all accounts was a likeable guy. So was Brock Elliott.
Thomson would head out to Little John Creek north of Manteca when he’d get the chance to fish for salmon.
Brock Elliott as a kid played in the irrigation ditch that was then south of town near the school that today is named in his honor.
All in all they were typical kids and did the things teens did at the time they were growing up.
But before they could get full time jobs and start families duty called.
It took Thomson to Korea. It took Elliott to Vietnam.
Neither made it home alive.
Each were the first with Manteca ties to fall while serving America in wars across the Pacific Ocean just as Jimmie Connors was the first Manteca resident to die in World War II.
Thanks to a decision by Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 6311 the names of both Thomson and Elliott will join that of Connors as part of the post’s official name.
As Post Commander Carlon Perry points out, it is more than just the name of three men. Each brings a face to those that Manteca lost in three different wars.
It is easy for most of us to not give a thought to the real cost of the freedoms we enjoy as we engage in political tiffs, cross freely from one region of the country to another, or worship without fear of government arrest. Simply seeing a VFW post such as on Moffat Boulevard calls our attention to an organization that exists of men and women who share the experience of being veterans during time of war. But we don’t put a face to it especially as the years go by.
But when you see names attached to VFW posts it is reminder the lives of men and women have been spent as the price to secure our freedom. Jimmie Connors, Gordon Thomson and Brock Elliott represent not just those that have fallen from Manteca in their respective wars but in every war where Mantecans who once as kids swam in irrigation ditches and fished in creeks and as teens cruised Yosemite Avenue.
VFW Post 6311 now has 560 members, some 40 short of their goal of 600. On any given day about 30 members drop by the post between 9 a.m. and noon to shoot the breeze, have coffee, perhaps paly doughnuts, and maybe shoot a game of pool. Monthly meetings usually attract 100 or so members.
Just 3½ years ago they had 60 members with perhaps four or five showing up for meetings.
Build it —as Perry promised — and they will come.
Today the post serves as a center for all veterans in need to access services.
Process of hiring new
fire and police chiefs
It looks like City Manager Elena Reyes won’t be hiring the next police chief and fire chief but Acting City Manager Greg Showerman will.
The Manteca City Council is meeting in a closed door session at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday prior to the start of the regular council meeting at 7 p.m. On the agenda are the employment of a fire chief and police chief.
Reyes has been on ice with full pay for six plus weeks in what has been described as a personnel issue.
City ordinances empower the city manager to appoint department heads with what is essentially confirmation by elected officials. Instead of abandoning the process or putting it on hold the council had Showerman proceed making it clear that he isn’t simply a caretaker while issues with Reyes are sorted out.
The council under any circumstance can’t legally terminate Reyes — if that is what they ultimately decide to do — until early February due to her employment contract. It bars the council from terminating city manager 60 days before or 60 days after a municipal election.
To contact Dennis Wyatt, email firstname.lastname@example.org