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Mantecan wounded in Afghanistan
Army Sgt. Jesse Reyes condition not known
The combined East Union and Manteca High JROTC post the colors signaling the start of the Memorial Day ceremonies at East Union Cemetery in Manteca on Monday. - photo by ROSE ALBANO RISSO/The Bulletin
The stark reality of the Memorial Day observance on Monday hit home hard when it was announced at the beginning of the program at East Union Cemetery that one of Manteca’s own sons serving in Afghanistan had been wounded in the chest.

“Our hearts and our prayers go to Jesse (Reyes) who was injured in Afghanistan,” said a somber John Aguilar, Commander of the McFall-Grisham American Legion Post #249 in Manteca.

No other details were available as of Monday. The soldier’s mother is Veronica Reyes, the president of the Jimmie Connors VFW Post 6311 Auxilary of Manteca. An auxiliary member who is a friend of Veronica said the news about her son from Afghanistan was the reason she was not at the Memorial Day observance.

Army Staff Sgt. Jesse Reyes is currently serving in Baraki, Barak, Afghanistan and is on deployment there for one year. This is his third deployment in his eight years with the military.

He is an Airborne Ranger in the 173rd Airborne Brigade 1-91 CAV, Anvil Troop, 3rd Platoon. He completed his Ranger training in July 2009 in Fort Benning, Georgia.

Just last April, he was able to secure a two-week R&R leave and came home to visit family and to celebrate his wedding anniversary as well as to attend his niece’s baptism. The family took advantage of this reunion to take family portraits. His wife, Heather, moved to Manteca from their “duty station” in Schweinfurt, Germany, to be with family in Manteca for the duration of his deployment in Afghanistan.

Guest speakers during the ceremonies were Manteca Police Chief Dave Bricker, an Air Force veteran, and “Wounded Warrior” Bob Gutierrez, a Vietnam veteran and recipient of the Purple Heart medal.

The traditional tribute to Prisoners of War and soldiers who are Missing in Action was presented by Carl Stappenbeck, former commander of the Jimmie Connors VFW Post #6311 in Manteca.

Jessica Campos, a graduate of Sierra High School and now a junior at California State University, Stanislaus, led the singing of the Star-spangled Banner.

Leading the invocation at the beginning of the ceremony, and the benediction at the closing of the program was Art Averitt, chaplain of the McFall-Grisham Legion Post #249. The Pledge Allegiance was led by members of the Calla 4-H.

McFall-Grisham American Legion Post #249  Auxiliary President Joan Cannon led the acknowledgement for Gold Star mothers and fathers as well as the Blue Star Mothers and Fathers. The posting of the colors at the beginning of the program was performed by JROTC members of the East Union and Manteca High.

The traditional 21-gun salute at the conclusion of the ceremony was performed by members of the VFW Post #6311 and American Legoin Post #249.