It was with an extra measure of devotion that the Manteca Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 6311 established its first honor guard following the death of their comrade and Post Chaplain Larry Lambert.
Lambert, 70, passed away July 16 after a bout with cancer associated with Agent Orange from his Vietnam service in the mid-1960s.
The 10-member Honor Guard gathered outside the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints on Northland Road just prior to his 11 a.m. memorial. They then entered the chapel single file with an American Flag and their VFW post flag, sitting at the rear of the room that was filled to capacity.
The Honor Guard was comprised mostly of Vietnam era veterans – both men and women – from all branches of service.
Veterans’ Service Officer Sgt. Shay Rosas (ret.) noted that the Post’s Colors Sergeant Richard Benavides asked for help from the new general manager of the J.C. Penney Department Store in Manteca, John Twanley, himself a Bronze Star recipient and U.S. Army veteran.
“After hearing of our recent loss, he donated all the tops and trousers for our Honor Guard on behalf of J.C. Penney and as well as haircuts in their salon to alleviate the maintenance costs for the Color Guard and the Honor Guard,” Rosas said.
Rosas continued, saying that Lambert’s untimely death is symbolic of the continuing battle for veteran health care. Diseases associated with the herbicide are what many Vietnam Veterans succumb to later in their lives, she added. Many have battled with the unseen mental and physical wounds they have suffered from their service.
“As a chaplain, Larry was able to take his struggles and turn them into means for inspiration and hope as he always encouraged others to rise above their personal challenges,” she said. “Through Larry’s passing we have gained so much and I know that he would be proud to see local veterans coming together for a common goal: honoring the military service, sacrifice and the wishes of a true disciple. He was a true Marine through and through with the strength of Goliath and the faith seen in a mustard seed.”
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