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Navy chiefs honor World War II veteran
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Navy chiefs sing “Anchors Away” to World War II veteran Truman Reeves of Manteca. - photo by GLENN KAHL/The Bulletin

 U.S. Navy chiefs marched in formation down a El Rancho Mobile Home street on Tuesday to honor a seriously ill World War II hero for his service

The presence of his Navy brotherhood gave Manteca resident Truman Reeves a surge of energy as he got out of his hospital bed in the living room and into a wheelchair. He never stopped smiling until they departed to return to their operations center in Sacramento.  He quietly whispered “thank you” to all to those close enough to hear his appreciation. 

Reeves sat on his front porch with his wife Caroline and son Larry as their grandson Chief Jeremiah Hamon double timed to their home. Harmon organized the trip of 20 Navy reservists from Sacramento to Manteca for Reeves who nearly lost his life on the U.S. Aircraft Carrier Intrepid from a dual Kamikaze suicide mission in November 1944.

Several weeks later when he was able to make a brief trip home to see his mother in Lindsay – near Visalia – the scars of the burns were still apparent, according to a family member.  

Currently in the care of Hospice in his home, Reeves had been badly burned and blinded by the airplanes exploding into his ship. He was found two days later by his shipmates having lost himself in a damaged section of the carrier.  Truman had been in the service for a year at the time of the attack and overseas for all but six weeks of that time. 

The uniformed chiefs marched to the end of the Reeves’ mobile home and stood at attention in a half circle formation when their spokesman told the former Navy seaman first class how proud they were to be there to honor his service. They then proceeded to sing the Navy’s “Anchors Away” song as he and his family grinned from the front porch.  Neighbors gathered to watch in silence.

Following the brief formation and presentation, the chiefs – one by one – walked up the steps of his mobile home, leaned over and paid their respects to the man who served his country in battled that earned him a Purple Heart. 

One Chief, Michael Johnson, knelt before Reeves and, holding his hand, told of his grandfather who had also been in the Second World War.

Mounted on the front porch railing were memories of his tenure in the Navy – his uniform and framed photographs of his tours. 

The event was part of the Select Chiefs’ initiations of Class 121 of Northern California from Sacramento to San Jose and from all three Navy Operations centers in training the Select Chiefs for more extended duty. 

Truman worked some 30 years as a Teamsters truck driver before his retirement. 

Following refreshments at the home — orange juice, coffee and breakfast wraps — the team of chiefs was on their way back to Sacramento. 

To contact Glenn Kahl, email