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Dedication on July 4th at 12:30 p.m.
MURAL WWII 10 6-29-15
Master muralist Dave Gordon, left, stands with volunteers that put the panels for the World War II mural in place. - photo by HIME ROMERO/ The Bulletin

Manteca’s Fourth of July some 74 years ago was tempered by fear.

The Japanese had attacked Pearl Harbor eight months earlier. The war wasn’t going well in the Pacific, Northern Africa or Europe.

Manteca men were spilling their blood in all three theaters.

At home, women were manning factory jobs to support the war effort and every piece of scarp metal that could be found was collected while civilians dealt with everything from rationed food to gas coupons.

Independence Day on Saturday in contrast will be joyful thanks in part to the 957 Manteca men and women who served in World War II including 35 that did not return.

To honor their sacrifice and never forget what they did for generations that are yet to come, the Manteca Mural Society on Saturday is dedicating the “Spirit of America” mural on the side of the Bedquarters building at Main Street and Yosemite Avenue at 12:30 p.m.

The mural — the second of five in a  series honoring Mantecans that have fought in World War I, World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and the Global War on Terror — was paid for with $25,000 in donations including a Fill the Helmet effort on Memorial Day weekend.

The mural by Colleen Micthell-Veyna is the latest in a series of more than three dozen murals started 12 years ago by the Manteca Mural Society.

Dedication of mural

Saturday at 12:30 p.m.

On Saturday, Charleen Carroll will welcome attendees while Tom Wilson will serve as master of ceremonies.

The East Union High JROTC will present colors while Ron Cruz will lead the Pledge of Allegiance. Jim Geer will sing the national anthem while Pastor Mike Dillman will offer the invocation as well as the benediction.

The unveiling will include remarks by the muralist and Dillman as well as recognizing the families of veterans in the World War II mural.

Remarks also will be made by Manteca Mayor Steve DeBrum, American Legion Post 249 Commander Jim Winston, Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 6311 Commander Carlon Perry, and Congressman Jeff Denham or his representative Mike Anderson.

Rich Benavides will sing “The Spirit of America” while San Joaquin County Supervisor and retired Army Colonel Bob Elliott will serve as the keynote speaker.

Refreshments will be served afterwards.

Nine faces along with a flag depicted on the mural incorporate 14 stories of those who served. They are designed to represent the World War II experience of all Manteca residents.

The mural besides having Manteca faces also contains images of the various theatres of wear.

On the top is a gold star representing the 35 Mantecans that died serving in World War II.

Across the bottom are five blue stars reflecting a rarity that Manteca had by having one family with five sons serving in the various branches of military in the war.

Families with a son serving were given banners with one blue star that typically was displayed in a window facing the street. If they had two sons serving the banner had two stars.

The banner that was displayed in a window by the five men’s mom — Margarita Duran — is on display at the Manteca Historical Society Museum. The five Manteca brothers who served were Anthony Duran, Manuel Duran, Richard Duran, Alfonso Duran, and Ralph Duran.

Those whose images

are on the mural

Manteca residents whose images grace the mural along with the service they represent are as follows:

ARMY: Bill Castillo served in the Army as a machine-gunner on the front lines in France, Belgium, and Germany. He was severely wounded and spent about a year in the hospital recovering. He received a Purple Heart, the Silver Star, 3 combat stars, and the French Legion of Honor.

MARINES: Leland Elliott enlisted in the Marine Corp in 1941. He was wounded at Guadalcanal and received the Purple Heart.

WAVE: Maria Huarte (Esteves) was a member of the Women’s Ambulance and Defense Corps and the Manteca Observation Post. She was trained in shooting a rifle and helped to monitor the skies for possible invasion. In 1943 she joined the WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Service) and was stationed in New Orleans at the Naval Air Station for most of the three years that she was in the service. One of the support jobs that she had was teaching English to Mexican soldiers.

NAVY:  First Class Seaman, John Machado served as a gunner on the battleship USS Mississippi. He was wounded in the second invasion of Leyte in the Pacific Theatre. They were being attacked by Japanese Zeros and shrapnel from one of the battleship’s guns pierced his helmet.  He served from August 1942 until his death in November of 1944. He received the WWII Victory Medal, Purple Heart, Campaign Medal, and the Asiatic Pacific Campaign Medal. 

NURSE: Avis Wessling Brewster was a Nurse in the Army 1942 to 1945. Avis wasn’t just a nurse but a Lieutenant in the Army-Air Corps.

COAST GUARD:  Jay Scalf at the young age of 17 served on a weather and ice-breaking ship in the North Atlantic off the Coast of Greenland. They received a letter of appreciation from Eisenhower for gathering weather information used in planning the D-day invasion.

MERCHANT MARINES: Woodrow Brumley, Seaman in the Pacific Theater with the 7th Fleet. He served on the Joseph K. Toole and the MS American Pack, bringing supplies to Guam, Marshall Islands, Philippines and other islands in the Pacific Theater.

ARMY AIR CORPS: Lt. “Bud” Dickman was a B-17 pilot with the 94th Bomber Group attached to the 8th Air Force in England. He flew his flying fortress on 26 missions over Germany and received the Distinguished Flying Cross with four oak leaf clusters, for his heroism and extraordinary action on four separate occasions. He never lost a man and never lost a plane.

FACTORY WORKER: Doris Williams (Knodt) worked at Western Tool & Die in Emeryville making parts for B-17 bombers.