Students at Brock Elliott Elementary School sat almost motionless as they listened to the sister of their namesake – Charlene Elliott Carroll – tell about her brother who died in battle in Vietnam and just who he was growing up in Manteca schools.
The student body filled the school quad Tuesday morning as the Sierra High School Color Guard presented The Colors and posted them in front of the outdoor stage. They also took part in the Pledge of Allegiance led by student council president Kanani Drummond.
The National Anthem was sung by eighth grader Lajolie Beugre with the some 60 voices strong Brock Elliott School Choir singing “My America” followed by “A Festive Call to Freedom.”
Then, a row of students gathered near the left of the stage with single strips of paper in their hands. One-by-one they read the names of the 17 military personnel from Manteca who made the ultimate sacrifice in Vietnam. It was a very emotional few minutes that touched the crowd of parents, teachers and students alike.
Those fallen soldiers, sailors, Air Force, and Marines included BM3 Charles M. White, 29, U.S. Navy; Sp4 Frederick G. Lopez, 21, U.S. Army; SO4 William McJimsey, 20, U.S. Army; Pfc. David E. Gore, 19, U.S. Marine Corps; Sgt. Jessee Rodriguez, 20, U.S. Army; Sp4 Carl Borgen, 21, U.S. Army; Pfc. Joseph Tafoa, 20, U.S. Army; Sgt. Robert M. Davenport, 23, U.S. Army; Sgt. Joseph Lewis, 22, U.S. Army; Sgt. Bruce M. Sours, 21, U.S. Army; Pfc. Larry K. Motley, 20, U.S. Army; Sp4 Jack Landers, 19, U.S. Army; Lance Corporal James E. Lowry, 20, U.S. Marine Corps; Warrant Officer Gale Butcher, Jr., 20, U.S. Army; Airman first class Leslie W. Morgan, 23, U.S. Air Force; and Captain Grant Uhls, 25, U.S. Air Force.
When Brock’s sister took the microphone as part of the school’s annual Veterans Day observance she talked mostly about her brother during his high school years in Manteca. She also read portions of a letter from one of Brock’s high school buddies, Boyd Horn.
“Brock touched my life in a very special way when I attended Manteca High,” Horn wrote. “The most unique thing about our relationship was that we had absolutely nothing in common other than being in the same school at the same time.”
“Brock was very popular and yet he didn’t respond to his social stature the way most teenagers did. By that I mean to say that Brock’s personality transcended the barriers normally associated with being popular. A couple of times he protected me from the ‘jock types’ who found great joy in tormenting any poor kid who fell into their grasp. But, more than anything else, it was the way Brock Elliott ‘spoke’ to me – he really made me feel like I counted,” he said. “He befriended me and others against a tide of class code. He always spoke to me no matter who was around – always called me his buddy. I learned a lot from Brock and I have tried to emulate his examples of friendliness and concern for others.
“In these simple ways great lessons are taught and meaningful changes made in the heart. And thus, Brock left a legacy that lives on,” he noted.
His sister continued at the podium remembering a time when she doctored a hand injury for her brother before he joined the Marines. When he attempted to help a villager in Vietnam in the same way he was mistaken as a doctor and the locals fled to him for help. She read an excerpt from him in a letter home:
“Well I turned into a doctor today,” Brock wrote. “Remember how my hand looked when it got inflected? Well, today we were a blocking force for this other company that was sweeping through a village. This little kid’s foot looked just like my hand did, but his foot was black. He asked me to help him so I just did the same thing to him as the Doctor did to my hand. I squeezed as much of the stuff out of it as I could, then put some stuff on it and wrapped it up. The people of the village were watching me, and after I finished with him, the women started bringing their kids to me to doctor up. I had a hard time explaining that I wasn’t a doctor to them . . .”
Then the Brock Elliott School Band played in the memory of fallen heroes, “The Legacy of Heroes,” followed by “The Anthem of Liberty.”
As Brock’s sister returned to her seat with members of her family Brock’s great nephew Diego Juarez presented a bouquet of flowers to her – thanking her for coming to speak to his classmates on their annual Brock Elliott Day.