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Korean War tribute may be done by May
Rocky Wilson looks over muralist Wei Luans mural rendition last week at the Manteca Veterans Center. - photo by HIME ROMERO/ The Bulletin

Charlene Carroll hopes that Korean War veterans in Manteca will finally have a tribute of their own by next May.

Last week the Manteca Mural Society – of which she is president – met to discuss the merits of the three mock murals that were submitted by world-class artists to memorialize the Korean War and the brave men and women from the Manteca area who served during it.

The group, Carroll said, hopes to contact the artist being awarded the contract within the next week and will then focus on the fundraising effort to secure the $25,000 needed to make it a reality.

All plans are currently to have the mural dedicated by May of 2016 – drastically speeding up the two-year timeline that was set when the WWII mural was unveiled to the community on the Fourth of July weekend.

And while a lot of the formalities have been finalized, the meeting last week was a crucial one for veterans and community members who had the chance to not only select which mockup they thought was best, but offer suggestions on how to make it better.

“I think that it shows that the composition of the mural can actually change,” said Carroll, the sister of the late Brock Elliott – the first area serviceman to be killed during the Vietnam War. “We had one comment from a local artist and veteran who saw the composition in one way and showed how it could be changed by just altering the way that the plane should be flying.

“It shows that people are a part of the process – we’ve met with the veterans and the community twice now and they have a stake in it. I believe that when you do something like this it should the majority of the people it represents very happy, and I think this process focuses on that.”

The three muralists who were paid $600 each for their mockups of the proposed mural were all given a list with various items to incorporate into their design that were suggested by those who attended the first public meetings. What set the group’s effort apart from standard inclusion practices is that those who made the suggestions actually had the chance to see the product before it was painted in order to make additional revisions or suggestions that will be forwarded back to the final artist.

Two of the three hopefuls – Ella Yates and Art Mortimer – already have murals that have been painted with the city while Wei Luan is a newcomer. Yates painted “Peaches,” “Rich with the Spoils of Nature,” and “The Harvest Continues” – all at the Manteca Senior Center – while Mortimer is responsible for “Our Bountiful Bounty” at 110 N. Sycamore and “Our Family City” at 259 N. Main Street.

Now that the decision has been made on which muralist will paint the Korean war portion of the montage along the side of the Bedquarters building at the corner of Main Street and Yosemite Avenue, the next step is securing the funding necessary to proceed. Leftover money from the World War II mural paid for the mockup process, and the committee recently posted the fundraising thermometer next to the mural site in order to raise support for community funding to make it possible.

Those interested in donating can visit to use a group-sponsored PayPal link to donate online. Additional information can also be found on the website.

“We dedicated the WWII mural on July 4th and had a meeting in August with Veterans to see what they wanted with this mural and now that is finally coming to fruition,” Carroll said. “And we hope to most just as quickly on the Vietnam mural once this one is completed in May. Work will begin almost immediately and it’s going to be a great thing for the community.”