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North Main mural will honor those who served America
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A new mural on North Main Street will honor those who have served America.

Manteca Ford owner Phil Waterford is commissioning a mural for the eastern facing wall of his service department. It will depict several area residents who have served in the military as part of a design that encompasses a prayer circle.

“It is a tribute to all of those who have served our nation and helped preserve our freedoms,” said Waterford. “I want young people to understand our freedoms aren’t free and that a lot of people paid a steep price so we can enjoy them.”

Among those chosen so far to be depicted in the mural are:

• Marine Cpl. Charles Palmer II, the Manteca High graduate who lost his life serving in Iraq.

• Earl “The Pearl” Watson, a Modesto man recognized as the last survivor of the 1,800-member strong Black regiment that fought valiantly in the Battle of the Bulge in World War II.

• Les Thomas, a Korean War veteran who has dutifully overseen the Flags over Manteca effort since its inception 11 years ago.

• Pastor Mike Dillman, the Vietnam War veteran who is the lead organizer of the Memorial Day Weekend Commemoration at Woodward Park that attracts over 15,000 people a year from throughout Northern California.

It represents the first privately commissioned non-advertising mural in Manteca.

The Manteca Historical Society has already completed 15 murals in and around downtown. One of their original objectives was to encourage private businesses to commission murals.

“It’s great that he (Waterford) is doing a mural,” said Tom Wilson, who helped found the mural society.

Wilson noted that the society has been working on concept for a veterans’ mural as well.

Waterford has been a big supporter of the Memorial Day Weekend Commemoration which is considered by military officials to be the largest of its kind on the West Coast if not in the nation.