A Vietnam-era Huey helicopter is landing at Woodward Park on Thursday at 4:30 p.m. a half hour before the opening ceremony of what promises to be the biggest Memorial Weekend Commemoration yet.
The event staged by the Not Forgotten Memorial Day Weekend Commemoration committee — already considered by Pentagon sources as the largest of its kind in the West — this year will include the American Veterans Traveling Tribute. It consists of an 80% replica of the Vietnam Wall, World War II Tribute Collection, Korea Tribute Collection, 9/11 Tribute, Police & Fire Tribute Panels, and Fort Hood Tribute Panel.
The helicopter will return on Sunday from 10 a.m., to 3 p.m. for the main part of the ceremonies that last year attracted more than 20,000 people.
EMU, INC has owned and operated a fully restored Vietnam Huey helicopter since 2004 as part of a non-profit living history educational program. Based out of Hayward Executive Airport, the founders both served in the 135th Assault Helicopter Company in Vietnam. The majority of the volunteers involved with the Huey helicopter are veterans.
The Traveling Tribute will be escorted into Manteca arriving at Austin Road and the Highway 99 interchange at about 3:30 p.m. Wednesday and head down Austin Road to Yosemite Avenue It will travel all the way down Yosemite Avenue to Main Street and turn left, go over the 120 Bypass, and left on East Woodward Avenue and into the Bridewell Avenue gate of Woodward Park. Volunteers will be waiting and the rest of the day will be spent setting up the memorials that will be ready for public viewing on Thursday, at 2 p.m.
Thursday’s 5 p.m. opening ceremonies includes a welcome by Manteca Mayor Steve DeBrum. Ripon High School JROTC will be presenting the colors, Wounded Warrior and Navy veteran James Greer will be singing the National Anthem, the Brock Elliott Elementary School (named after Marine Lance Corporal Brock Elliott who was the first military service member killed in the Vietnam War from Manteca) choir will be singing, and Vietnam veteran and three time Purple Heart recipient Marine Lance Corporal Chris Lambert will be speaking.
The tributes will then be open around the clock until closing at 3 p.m. on Memorial Day.
A rally for junior high and high school students is planned for Friday at 6 p.m. complete with a concert by The High Voltage Band.
Organizer Pastor Mike Dillman has noted the “Concert at the Wall” is designed to help young people understand the heavy price paid for their freedoms.
The High Voltage Band featuring Matthew Grattan on lead guitar and vocals, Paul Grattan on drums and vocals, and Nolan Harris on bass and vocals will perform their own unique style of pop and punk rock. They have been playing venues in Northern California and the Central Valley for over three years with more than 250 shows under their belt. Venues ranged from small clubs to large outdoor concerts of 3,000 people. They recently returned from a three-night tour of Hollywood and played at legendary venues such as The House of Blues, Molly Malones, and The Whiskey a Go Go.
Sunday events include:
• The Christopher Braley Wounded Wars 5K run registration beings at 6:30 p.m. with the run starting at 8 a.m.
• A flyover of military aircraft with the first at 8 a.m.
• Flag raising ceremony and taps.
• A breakfast sponsored by Nulaid Eggs starts at 8 a.m.
• Helicopters landings starting at 9:10 a.m.
• The Marine Cpl. Charles O. Palmer car and motorcycle show registration begins at 7 a.m.
• Gold Star Family Brunch.
• Arrival of Gold Star families at 12:45 p.m. followed by a missing man fly-over at 1 p.m.
• World War II bomber flyover at 3:30 p.m.
• Kids Zone featuring bounce houses and slides, mechanical bull, laser tag, zip line, and train.
• Community memorial service for the fallen at 10 a.m.
• The Traveling Tribute to the Fallen of the Global War on Terror along with more than 7,000 crosses representing each of those that gave their lives for America.
• Manteca Police and Ripon Police SWAT and K9 demonstrations at 11 a.m.
• Entrainment featuring the bluegrass band known as Red Dog Ash at 11:30 a.m. , Victorious All Stars at 2:30 p.m., The Advocates at 2:30 p.m., James Greer at 5 p.m., Lincoln Brewster at 7 p.m., and Tahoe Fire Dancers at 8L45 p.m..
• Aerial fireworks sponsored by Manteca Christian Preschool at 9:30 p.m.
For more information go to www.thememorialweekend.org