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Colony Oak shows appreciation for military veterans
Colony Veterans DSC 5045
Some 50 third graders presented their Thank You Veterans assembly last Thursday with a special section in the room that honored the past servicemen and women before the entire student body. - photo by GLENN KAHL/The Bulletin

Betty Rhea Newman, 93, of Manteca was the one and only woman veteran from the U.S. Marine Corps from World War II who was able to attend last Thursday’s Military Appreciation Day at Colony Oak School in Ripon.  

She was surrounded by U.S. Army, Navy, and U.S. Air Force veterans who had turned out for the school’s special military event in their multi-purpose room and was presented by some 50 third graders who sang patriotic songs and gave the definitions of the words used in the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag.

Newman said she had worked in supply while in the service and was anxious to travel to Ripon from her Manteca home to see her great granddaughter Olivia, 8, perform on stage with her classmates.  She chuckled when she remembered that her husband, Eugene, was a drill sergeant in the Corps. 

“He dealt with the guys and I dealt with him,” she said

Third grade teachers Patty Goeppert and Tiffany Thomason organized the performance.  Some 20 vets came from the Ripon American Legion Post and others who quickly spotted their grandchildren in the performance came from Ripon and surrounding communities  to attend the event. Smiles were the order of the day as they watched their grandchildren sing songs such as “Proud to be an American,” “Grand Old Flag” and “God Bless America.”

Mrs. Goeppert said she and her teaching partner wanted to do something other than Thanksgiving they repeat every year for their scheduled assembly and she was inspired by the thought of honoring the military and its retired soldiers and sailors.  

Fred Garber, a Vietnam vet, is said to have recorded the most miles driving a duce and a half military truck having driven 40,000 miles in that war torn country. He wore camouflage fatigues to the event.