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Merrill Gardens salutes Mantecas veterans
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Manteca firefighter Oscar Castro shares a conversation with Alex Christian. - photo by VINCE REMBULAT

Alexandra Christian was proud to serve her country.

During World War II, the Merrill Gardens resident – she goes by Alex – was in the US Navy, working in personnel before handling benefits and claims.

“I never regretted going to the service,” she said at Wednesday’s Veterans Day ‘In Honor of Our Veterans and Emergency Response Teams’ luncheon at the Manteca retirement, assisted living and Alzheimer’s care facility.

Christian added, “The part I didn’t like about women in the military was that it freed up men to the front line (of the war).”

She served her country from March 1943 to Aug. 1946, earning the rank of petty officer.

Christian, who is a few days shy of her 87th birthday, is originally from Santa Paula. She worked at BEST turf fertilizer for 35 years, transferring from Casa Grande, Ariz. to Lathrop.

At the Veterans Day luncheon, Mary Guevara, who works at Merrill Gardens in dining room service, encouraged Christian to wear her uniform.

The special event is held annually at Merrill Gardens.

“We make it a big deal,” said general manager Clay Callahan.

This year, Merrill Gardens added the emergency response team to the luncheon.

“They do so much for our residents,” Callahan said. “We just want to say ‘thank you.’”

Oscar Castro, for one, was honored.

“It’s great to be among people who helped preserve our freedom,” said the local firefighter.

The emergency response teams joined military veterans at the event held in the Merrill Garden dining room.

Included was Rodney Sevedge, who is the commander of the Manteca Veterans of Foreign Wars.

“I look forward to coming here every year,” he said. “They treat us very nice. In fact, I’ve known a lot of veterans who lived (at Merrill Gardens) over the years.”

Sevedge saw action in Vietnam and, like Christian, came dressed in uniform to the Veterans Day affair.

Those honored received a catered meal and a certificate of thanks, with entertainment by the “Foursome” barbershop quartet.

To reach reporter Vince Rembulat, e-mail