Manteca paid a terrible price during the Vietnam War.
Seventeen young men with ties to the Manteca community died in the war.
Those that served in the war did not get a warm reception when they returned home. Manteca veterans were among those that were targeted by protestors and even spat at when they returned stateside on chartered civilian airliners at West Coast airports.
In an effort to make sure those who served in Vietnam from Manteca and throughout the region from Turlock to Lodi know that America appreciated their service and honors their sacrifices, a Vietnam War 50th Commemoration Ceremony is taking place Friday, April 14, from 10 a.m. to noon at the Big League Dreams sports complex. It is designed as a belated welcome home.
The event is being hosted by the Vet Center in Modesto that conducted a similar ceremony last year at John Thurman Field in Modesto.
“It gets fairly emotional as family members are on hand to help acknowledge their service,” noted Gunny Reyes of the Vet Center.
So far some 100 Vietnam veterans have registered for the event that will be attended by family members as well as anyone from the general public that would like to pay their respect.
Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 6311 Commander Carlon Perry said organizers are hopeful that community members will attend with signs expressing their appreciation for the Vietnam veterans being honored.
The event that will include a pinning ceremony is being followed with a meal afterwards at the Manteca Veterans Center, 580 Moffat Blvd., for Vietnam veterans and their families.
A Presidential Proclamation on May 25, 2015 established the commemoration period for Vietnam veterans that started on Memorial Day 2015 and continues through Veterans Day 2025.
Vietnam veterans are also being recognized next month with the dedication of the Vietnam mural commissioned by the Manteca Mural Society on the Manteca Bedquarters wall at Main Street and Yosemite Avenue. It is the fourth of five planned murals honoring those who served in World War I, World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and the Global War on Terror.
The fallen soldiers, sailors, Air Force, and Marines from Manteca were Lance Corporal Brock Elliott, 19, Marine Corps; BM3 Charles M. White, 29, U.S. Navy; Sp4 Frederick G. Lopez, 21, U.S. Army; SO4 William McJimsey, 20, U.S. Army; Pfc. David E. Gore, 19, U.S. Marine Corps; Sgt. Jessee Rodriguez, 20, U.S. Army; Sp4 Carl Borgen, 21, U.S. Army; Pfc. Joseph Tafoa, 20, U.S. Army; Sgt. Robert M. Davenport, 23, U.S. Army; Sgt. Joseph Lewis, 22, U.S. Army; Sgt. Bruce M. Sours, 21, U.S. Army; Pfc. Larry K. Motley, 20, U.S. Army; Sp4 Jack Landers, 19, U.S. Army; Lance Corporal James E. Lowry, 20, U.S. Marine Corps; Warrant Officer Gale Butcher, Jr., 20, U.S. Army; Airman first class Leslie W. Morgan, 23, U.S. Air Force; and Captain Grant Uhls, 25, U.S. Air Force.
Many more served from Manteca including Sammy Davis who attended Manteca High through his junior year before moving to the Midwest with his family. Davis was bestowed the Congressional Medal of Honor for exceptional heroism in Vietnam.
Reyes noted it is not too late for Vietnam veterans to register for the April 14 event. He can be contacted at 209.569.0713.
Facts about the Vietnam War include:
uMore than 3 million Americans served in the war.
uThere are still over 1,600 U.S. soldiers missing in action. Efforts to identify remains are still ongoing.
uMore than 58,000 American veterans gave their lives in Vietnam. Over 300,000 were wounded.
uThere were 257 Medals of Honor were given during the Vietnam War.
To contact Dennis Wyatt, email email@example.com