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Thousands pay tribute to the fallen
Scott Conover performs a tribute song while honored veterans sit onstage - photo by HIME ROMERO
The thousands of people who filled Woodward Park on Sunday were there to pay tribute to those who made the ultimate sacrifice.

From the Bell “Huey” that passed by in the morning to the howitzer cannons that fired in a 21 gun salute, those who poured into the park from all over the area were there for the Not Forgotten celebration – with veterans from all eras there to honor those who didn’t make it home.

“This event has been outstanding,” said Mike Anderson – who lost his son Mike Jr. in Iraq and has since become active in promoting Gold Star Families. “I flew in on the Huey this morning from the Bay Area, and to pass by and see all of those people out there waving and all of the kids looking up – that was amazing.

“It helps give those kids an education about our military and those who sacrificed their lives.”

Manteca Pastor Mike Dillman of First Assembly organized the weekend long event that started on Friday with the welcoming home of Medal of Honor recipient and former Manteca High student Sammy Davis.

Manteca Vice Mayor Steve DeBrum spoke about the event, and about how grateful he was to get the chance to welcome Davis home.

“I’ve received a lot of awards and accolades,” DeBrum – who has long been active in the community – said. “But nothing compared to the honor of shaking that man’s hand on Friday.”

Sgt. Karl Knutsen of East Union JROTC spent the day as the event’s Master of Ceremonies – introducing those in the community who were being honored.

Tracy resident Scott Conover took the stage with his guitar to play a song that he wrote in memory of his son – Marine Lance Corporal Brandon Dewey – who was killed in action in Iraq in 2006.

“I miss him dearly and honor him every chance I get,” said Conover while he was introducing the song. “This is for all of the heroes that are here today, and those who didn’t make it home.”

The only Manteca service member to lay down their life in Iraq – Marine Corporal Charles Palmer – was honored and remembered by his father Chuck and those in the crowd who commended his sacrifice.

“It’s an honor for me to be here today,” Palmer said when he got to the microphone. “We hope that all of our sons and daughters come home, and we hope that our son was the last soldier from Manteca to fall, and the last of all of them.”

The Memorial Day events continue today at 9 a.m. with the dedication of the plaza at the Big League Dreams sports complex in honor of the memory of Palmer.

Then at 10:30 a.m. the traditional Memorial Day ceremonies takes place at the East Union Cemetery at Union Road and Louise Avenue.

The weekend will be brought to an end at 8:30 p.m. with the playing taps at the BLD complex.