By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Revving up for Project HERO opening
Marine veteran Duke Cooper with one of his two race cars. - photo by HIME ROMERO/The Bulletin

Duke Cooper revved up his supped up 1969 Camaro Friday in front of the Manteca Jimmie Connors Veterans of Foreign War Post 6311.

He’s clocked his NHRA funny car otherwise known as the Orange Crush in just over 10 seconds along the quarter-mile, straight-away asphalt race tracks in Phoenix, Sacramento, Bakersfield, Famoso, and Salt Lake City.

His racing endeavor is also dedicated to his time in the military. Cooper, who also has an old school dragster named Helter Skelter driven by Dwight Garland, served six years in the Marines.

At VFW Post 6311, the Oakdale resident along with Doug Hebbard, who is the Project HERO Sacramento area coordinator, was raising funds – along with awareness for Project HERO’s Ride 2 Recovery – for the Veterans First building at 2372 Patterson Road in Riverbank.

The grand opening for the place that’s designed as a haven for veterans and first responders is scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 13, beginning at 9 a.m.

Cooper and Doug Hebbard are both affiliated with Project HERO – an acronym for Healing Exercise Rehabilitation Opportunity – and its Ride 2 Recovery event.

Ride 2 Recovery is a groundbreaking program for Veterans that was started in 2008. Each May, Ride 2 Recovery has its big road bike cycling event in Sacramento.

This program is designed to improve the health and wellness of war veterans with a life-changing experience through cycling.

Project HERO provides training while supporting cycling programs at military hospitals, Army Warrior Transition Units, Marine Warrior Unit, and VA locations.

Hebbard said that Project HERO has proven its effectiveness in rehabilitating injured servicemen and women thanks to activities such as group bike rides.

At the Veterans First event, active duty and retired veterans will do a 25-mile bike ride, with a barbecue, car show featuring military vehicles as being part of the festivities.

Information on Project HERO can be obtained by logging on to


To learn more about Veterans First, e-mail