All of Manteca’s fallen in World War II have now been accounted for and buried with military honors.
U.S. Army Air Corps pilot 1st Lt. Homer Spence’s P-38 fighter plane crashed during World War II in the Italian Alps in July of 1944. The wreckage was found in 2010. Spence’s remains were identified using DNA analysis.
Spence was returned home to Manteca and buried with full military honors Saturday at Park View Cemetery.
Manteca lost 34 men during World War II. They were Americus Bettencourt, Anthony Blanco, James H. Blankenship, George R. Calloway, James R. Connors, Bertram F. Daviner, Fred D. Ettle, Walter F. Gibson Jr., Kenneth Grisham, Leslie Harding, Donald R. Hanson, Frederick Hesser-Farrer, Francis R. Jackson Jr., Harold C. Jensen, Lauren E. Littlefield, John R. Machado, Clifford Malyon Jr., Frank Martin, , Seraphine S. Mederos, Carl A. Petersen, Viggo V. Petersen, Joseph A. Pfister Jr., Angelo A. Ponzio, Donald V. Rieger, George R. Shaffer, Dale Sizemore, Rhys Smith, Homer A. Spence, Delos Stetler, Everett L. Turnbull, Roy Warner, James H. Weeks, Cyril J. Whisman, and William B. Winchester.
Their names are on a plaque at Manteca’s memorial to the fallen on the front entrance plaza to the Manteca Library by the flag pole off Center Street.
They were part of the 971 names that Manteca listed on a large sign that graced what is now the eastern facing wall of the Manteca Bedquarters along Main Street where the various war murals are now placed. Names were added to the sign as Mantecans went off to serve. The sign stayed in place until the 1950s. The names are also included on a permanent display at the American Legion Post 249 hall on East Yosemite Avenue.
Spence was 22 when he died. The Manteca High graduate spent two years at Modesto Junior College before joining the Air Corps. He was assigned to the 96th Fighter Squadron, of the 82nd Fighter Group.
He was flying as a spotter for a bomber squadron and was returning to his base when a wingman reported seeing him slump over his wheel flying over Austria and then fall out of formation crashing in a heavily wooded area of Italy.