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Manteca honors veterans & fallen
Memorial Weekend Commemoration May 22-25
Manteca’s most decorated soldier, Sergeant Sammy Davis, and the latest Manteca soldier to lay down his life for his country, Cpl. Charles Palmer II, will be honored during Manteca's Memorial Weekend Commemoration, May 22-25. - photo by Bulletin photo
Four days honoring those who served America – from Manteca’s most decorated soldier to the latest Manteca soldier to lay down his life for his country - takes place May 22-25.

It is part of community-wide One Nation Under God Memorial Day Commemoration being staged as a cooperative venture of religion, business, civic and military groups. The four-day event has numerous high points but arguably the largest will be the USO Show from 2 to 5:30 p.m. on Sunday, May 24, at Woodward Park, followed by an official ceremony at 6 p.m. and aerial fireworks at 8:45 p.m. celebrating the safe return of all our veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan.

Recognizing Medal of Honor recipient

The four days start off at 11 a.m. on Friday, May 22, with a ceremony honoring Manteca native and Medal of Honor recipient Sammy Davis. It will take place at the Manteca Civic Center, 1001 W. Center St.

Davis attended Manteca High through his junior year. He enlisted in the Army at age 18.

Sergeant Davis was a cannoneer at a fire support base when it came under attack by a reinforced Viet Cong battalion. The enemy drove within 25 meters of friendly positions and only a river separated them from the fire support base. Sergeant Davis seized a machine gun and provided covering fire for his gun crew as they tried to fire on the enemy but a recoilless rifle round scored a direct hit on the artillery piece. The blast hurled the gun crew from their weapon and blew Sergeant Davis into a foxhole. He struggled to his feet and returned to the howitzer, which was burning furiously. He rammed a shell into it, aimed and fired the howitzer which rolled backward, knocking him to the ground. An enemy mortar exploded, injuring him again, but he loaded the piece, aimed, and fired three more shells.

Disregarding his inability to swim, he picked up an air mattress and went across the river to rescue 3 wounded comrades on the far side. On reaching them, he stood up and fired to prevent the Viet Cong from advancing. While the most seriously wounded soldier was helped across the river, he protected the two remaining casualties until he could pull them across the river to the fire support base. He refused medical attention and then joined another howitzer crew.

Dedication of memorial wall to Sgt. Palmer

On Memorial Day on Monday, May 25, sunrise will come to Manteca with 2,500 flags lining the streets as part of the Flags Over Manteca effort. Then at 9 a.m., the memorial wall honoring Cpl. Charles Palmer II will be dedicated at the Big League Dreams sports complex plaza. Palmer was killed in Iraq while serving America.

Then at 10:30 a.m. the traditional Memorial Day service takes place at East Union Cemetery.

The day – and weekend – will end at 8 p.m. with the playing of taps and the retiring of the colors at the BLD complex.

‘Not Forgotten’ Musical-drama

The Place of Refuge, 486 Button Ave., will stage its poignant “Not Forgotten” musical drama on Saturday, May 23, at 2 and 6 p.m.

The production is a tribute to the fallen as well as those who have served America.

USO Show, program & fireworks

The USO Show from 2:30 to 5:30 p.m. at Woodward Park is being billed as a regional commemoration or Memorial Day weekend.

It will feature a military vehicle display, free food and drinks for veterans, CHP K-9 exhibit, children’s fun center, exhibits and concessions, veteran services, Soldiers Angels collection center, aircraft fly over, special tribute to wounded warriors, a ceremony honoring veterans, marching bands, and the Moving Wall tribute to those who have died so far in the Global War on Terror.

The official ceremony at 6 p.m. will feature speakers Sgt. Sammy Davis, Sgt. Bob Gutierrez of the famous Navajo Code Talkers, and Sgt. Earl Watson who is a Battle of the Bulge survivor. Music will be provided by the Mi Wuk church choir and band as well as “We are Family.”

The aerial fireworks at 8:45 p.m. are being staged in celebration of the veterans who have returned safely form Iraq and Afghanistan.

The event sponsors are the American Legion, City of Manteca, Manteca Chamber of Commerce, Manteca Convention & Visitors Bureau, Manteca Ministerial Association, and Veterans of Foreign Wars Jimmie Connors Post 6311.