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$25,000 needed for downtown Korean War mural
Veterans Scott Souza (retired Air Force captain), left, and Benny Gatto (former SH2, US Navy), talk about the mural project. - photo by HIME ROMERO/The Bulletin

The dedication of the Korean War Mural is still months away.
The Manteca Mural Society continues to seek donations to complete the five murals making up the Veteran’s Mural Project on the wall of Manteca Bedquarters at Yosemite Avenue and Main Street.
The Korean War Mural by Art Mortimer – he was commissioned to do the mural consisting of the Korean cold winters, an aircraft carrier, a Mobile Army Surgical Hospital (MASH) unit, and a portrait of Alvin Mendes, a Korean veteran from Manteca who is still listed as missing in action – will be placed alongside the existing World War II and the Global War on Terror murals.
Dedication is scheduled for May 21.
“Some of the funds have been raised to begin the process for the mural but more monies are needed to pay the balance of the $25,000 cost,” said Charleen Carroll of the Manteca Mural Society.
She and several veterans on the Manteca Mural Society board – included were Cpt. Scott Souza (US Air Force), Ron Cruz (US Army), Bill Barnhart (Air Force), Rock Wilson (Air Force), Benny Gatto (US Navy), Ray Noble (Army), Bob Bender (Navy), John Evans (US Marines), Ralph Leghorn (Air Force), Addie Micheletti (Army), and Eliot Callender (Army) – urged folks to make a contribution Thursday at the mural site.
“(We) ask that you give what you can to help us reach our goal so we can finish our mural project to honor all veterans and, in the future, continue with other mural projects to further beautify our wonderful city,” they said in a letter. “Anything you can give will be appreciated – be it time, money, or other method of your generosity to help this endeavor.”
The Vietnam veterans and World War I murals will complete the project.
As for the Korean War Mural, Gatto and Noble were among those who served in ‘The Forgotten War.’
“This mural is very significant, especially with (the portrait of) Mendes,” said Gatto, who was stationed aboard the USS Essex carrier during that time. “I grew up with him – it was a shock when I first heard that he was missing in action.”
Noble grew up in St. Louis and served as a military police during the Korean War. He’s been in a resident of Manteca for the past seven years.
Each had input on the mural. They were thrilled to see that Korean government’s “Ambassador of Peace Medal” that was presented to all veterans of that war will be displayed on Mortimer’s work.
Donations can be made by logging on to and using the PayPal link.
Checks are also accepted and can be sent to Manteca Mural Society, P.O. Box 1666, Manteca CA 95336.
For more information, call Charleen Carroll at 209.823.1386.