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Memorial Day car show in memory of Mantecas fallen Marine
Charles Palmer, left, and Louis and Jewell Wyrsch stand between the couples 65 Chevy Nova and 71 Camaro, and behind the photograph of Marine Cpl. Charles O. Palmer II who was killed in action in Iraq on May 5, 2007. - photo by ROES ALBANO RISSO

Four years ago, 25 classic-car enthusiasts joined the annual Not Forgotten: Memorial Day weekend event at Woodward Park in Manteca.

Last year, the number swelled to 300 cars. This year, some 350 owners of classic cars are expected to show off not only their shiny four wheelers but also, and more importantly, to honor and to remember the brave men and women who have served their country and the fallen heroes who gave their all, including Manteca’s own Marine Cpl. Charles O. Palmer II.

“The car show is in memory of Charles Palmer (II); it’s a memorial classic car show,” said Louie Wyrsch who will have two of his own that will be on display at Woodward Park – his beloved 1971 Camaro and his 1965 Chevy Nova. The Camaro is a sentimental favorite for Wyrsch and his wife, Jewell. When they were married a few years ago, the retired business owner honored his new bride by dedicating the shiny red vintage vehicle to her.

But this attraction is also a vehicle for a philanthropic purpose. Proceeds from the $15 entry fee for each car entered in the show will benefit the Memorial Day weekend event as well as the Memorial Troop Support Program whose mission is to support America’s troops by sending them a care package. The Cpl. Palmer Troop Support will also have a booth next to the car show where those who want to make a donation to the program can drop off their contributions.

Charles Palmer said their booth will have specially made T-shirts for sale at $15 apiece as part of their fund-raiser as well. And those who have a friend or family member who is serving in the military and would like their names to be added to the Troop Support shipping list will be able to add those names also at the booth.

Louis Wyrsch said the car show will take place inside the park this year. During the first and second year of the show, the cars were displayed inside the park. But last year, when they had 300 vehicles entered, the show was held outside of the park. This time, said Wyrsch, all the cars will be on display again on the grass. The classic cars will be available for viewing all day Sunday, May 27, from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Many of the vehicles will be shown by members of the Modesto-based Mid Valley Chevy Club to which Louis and Jewell Wyrsch belong. Many of the 100-plus members of the club will be bringing their cars to the show, they said.

The Memorial Day weekend event touches really close to home for Jewell Wyrsch. Her son, Jason Mullings, just last January took a one-year break from his job at the City of Manteca Public Works Department for a one-year tour of duty in Afghanistan. He left for the war-torn country on Jan. 27 and is expected to be back home to his wife and children in January of 2013.

The car show is just one of a slew of attractions and programs all in honor of the fallen service men and women on what has been described as one of the biggest – if not the biggest – Memorial Day commemoration in the West Coast. Also on tap for the two-day patriotic event – just on Woodward Park alone and not counting those that will be held elsewhere – include the following: a 5K Fun Run, stage shows, a petting zoo, a Navy fly over, a community memorial service, a helicopter landing, a kids’ play zone, food concessions, Manteca Police Department demonstrations, a military vehicle display, and, fireworks at 9 p.m.

Admission to all of the above is free and the public is welcome to attend.

The Memorial Day: Not Forgotten Commemoration is the brainchild of Mike Dillman, a Vietnam veteran and the pastor of The Place of Refuge which is co-sponsoring the program along with the Welcome Home Heroes Foundation.

Those who are interested in having their classic cars entered in the car show must fill out an application and submit the completed form, along with the $15 per car entry fee, to Welcome Home Heroes Classic Car Show, 486 Button Ave., Manteca, CA 95336

For further details about the Memorial Day: Not Forgotten weekend commemoration, call (209) 239-1371 or visit www.TheMemorial for additional information.