D-Day Remembrance with Living Legends at Aerospace Museum

Story and photos by Trina L. Drotar  |  2019-06-06

SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - Seventy five years ago, Dwight D. Eisenhower authorized Operation Overlord sending 176,000 troops from England to France. The date was June 5, 1944. On the morning of June 6th, troops, including 18,000 parachutists, had landed or were landing on the shoreline of Normandy. An additional 13,000 aircraft had been dispatched to provide air cover for the troops. June 6th, 1944 is D-Day.

Clarence “Bud” Anderson was one of the pilots who flew 100 miles inland that day. He shared that story with a group of 100 visitors at the Aerospace Museum of California’s D-Day commemoration event on Saturday, June 1st. Anderson, a retired colonel with the USAF, was joined by retired Navy Commander Dean “Diz” Laird for a talk about their experiences during WWII.

“We are so fortunate to have them here today,” said museum director Tom Jones.

The men, a few years south of 100, entertained the audience for two hours, graciously posed for photos, and signed books, pictures, and memorabilia. They met the many attendees who stood in long lines for the opportunity to ask a question or to thank the men for their service, a phrase heard repeatedly.

Prior to their talk, museum volunteer Jim Ronko, dressed as a D-day glider pilot, led a group of nearly 50 people through a living history talk and reenactment. “Path to D-Day” began inside and finished outside in front of the C-53, a plane that would have carried gliders to Normandy. Volunteers dressed as parachutists sat inside and greeted children and adults. The tour set the stage for the talk.

WWII aces, Colonel C.E. “Bud” Anderson, USAF (Ret.) and Commander Dean S. “Diz” Laird, USN (Ret.) looked like the neighbor next door or a great uncle, belying the strength that both men displayed during WWII and continue to display.

“To all of our veterans, past and present, especially Bud and Diz, thank you for your service,” said Jones who provided an overview of D-Day before introducing the Placer High School graduates.

Anderson, a triple ace, served in WWII and Vietnam, and received, among others, the Bronze Medal Star, World War II Victory Medal, Air Force Longevity Service Award, and Vietnam Campaign Medal. He is a National Aviation Museum, EAA Warbirds of America, and San Diego Air and Space Museum International Air and Space hall of fame inductee. He is also a Congressional Medal of Honor recipient.

Laird, born in Loomis, suffered from motion sickness but he had his sights set on flying. Among the 100 airplanes he has flown are the F4F Wildcat and F6F Hellcat. He scored victories in both the European and Pacific Theaters, set a record during the 1949 National Air Races where he flew an F2H Banshee. He is the recipient of Distinguished Flying Cross and Audie Murphy Award, among many others. He is also a Congressional Medal of Honor recipient.

“Gentlemen, I salute you,” said Jones. The audience applauded and many saluted the two men.

“We were the hottest damn fighter squadron in the world,” Laird said, his voice quiet but strong. “We were told this, and we believed them.”

He talked about the new requirement to be qualified for night landing saying that most pilots were not enthusiastic and that reports from the executive officer “did nothing to bolster our morale.” Laird recalled a sky filled with 72 fighter pilots circling and trying to get into a traffic pattern. The men, constantly ridiculed, trained nightly. During the third week, Laird finally entered the traffic pattern, made several passes, and was determined to make the next pass his last. But he was going 10 – 15 knots too fast, caught only the top wire and was turned upside down.

“Damn Diz, we thought you were dead,” said the flight officer.

Laird did not have to make another attempt until he was back in the United States.

“It was a rather rough six months, learning new things from people who didn’t know how to do it in the first place.”

He threatened to punch his ops officer if he did not get a good mission. The mission, it turns out, nearly killed him, but he is a survivor who jumped out of an airplane for his 90th birthday and flew his 100th aircraft three years ago.

After flying a six hour mission, he returned to the ship, was seen by a doctor, and moved to sick bay where the doctor removed his appendix.

“You are one of the luckiest guys I know,” the doctor told him.

Anderson, it turns out, is also one lucky guy who credits the P-51 Mustang and Major General Jimmy Doolittle’s new instructions that fighter pilots could pursue and destroy while climbing to 18,000 ft. altitude. Previous mandates limited the planes to 15,000 ft. and required them to remain very close to the bombers.

“What a lucky break that was for us,” said Anderson. “That’s when victories soared.”

They were able to kill the experienced Luftwaffe pilots, leaving them with planes and inexperienced pilots. 

Anderson was the second flight to take off in the early morning hours of June 6th. Two squadrons of 32 aircraft were dispatched.

“Our destination was south of Normandy on the other side,” he said. The third flight leader said, “You know, that Bud Anderson seems to get home all the time. I think I’m going to follow him.” The mission lasted 6 hours, 55 minutes. A normal mission lasted 4 ½ hours.     

“It was a magnificent sight,” he said about the beach and seeing the troops and boats, adding that it was also the site of “incredible losses.”

After a standing ovation, complete with more salutes, the men met with attendees.

“You can be anything you want to be, just find something and excel at it,” said Anderson to Ryan, a young man.

Anthony Borrero, whose father also served in WWII, was one of the last to meet Laird.

“Thank you for our freedom, Commander.”

For additional information on Aerospace Museum of California, visit: https://aerospaceca.org.

 

Serving California's Veterans and their Families

SACRAMENTO, CA (MPG) - Can military sustenance become scrumptious? Can drab be transformed into delectable?

See for yourself at CalVet’s 7th Annual MRE Cooking Challenge, Thursday July 18 at the California State Fair, an event that promises to be tastefully done. The Challenge pairs military veterans and noted local chefs as they look to impress a panel of culinary experts by turning those Meal-Ready-To-Eat packages – often dreaded by folks in the Armed Forces – into gourmet dinners. Or at least into something close.

Considered to be the marquee event of the State Fair’s Military and Veteran Appreciation Day, the extravaganza begins at noon in Cal Expo’s Cooking Theater, California Building B.

Here’s the day’s menu for your viewing pleasure:               

Classic Culinary Cooking Challenge

Noon: To whet your appetite for the upcoming challenge, several members of the California National Guard will take turns in introducing the veterans and celebrity chefs, provide a brief culinary history of the MRE, and host a trivia session. You will also be able to meet with the participants and sample bites from an MRE, getting a taste of what our military men and women dine on in the field.

3 p.m. – Deborah Hoffman of CalVet will be the colorful analyst during the second course. Chefs will vie for three randomly chosen MREs placed in the pantry, or whatever remains. Using their culinary skills and available ingredients, we should be treated to edible works of art … or not!

6 p.m. – And then, the greatly-anticipated main course will be served up by V101 radio personality Big Al Sams. The veterans and chefs, whom you met earlier, will team up to complete their mission: To turn MREs into appealing and tasty meals, using their skills and available ingredients. Judges will pick the winner based upon taste, presentation, skill, and showmanship.

7:15 p.m. – Dessert is Ceremony de awards.

This year’s field includes four veterans: Bryce Palmer, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran and chef at Mulvaney’s B&L; Michael Hedin, U.S. Marine Corps, member education unit manager at CalPERS; Rob Gomez, U.S. Army, a California Highway Patrol sergeant; and Shannon Terry, California National Guard and a program director for the non-profit Work for Warriors.

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Rancho Cordova Pays Tribute to The Fallen

By Shelly Blanchard, Cordova Community Council  |  2019-05-30

Families, friends and neighbors came out to honor those who gave their lives for our nation. Photo by Rick Sloan

RANCHO CORDOVA, CA (MPG) - An audience of 400 paid tribute to American men and women who have given their lives in defense of the country during a moving Memorial Day Observance held at the VA Medical Center at Mather Monday.

A group of 30 veterans were honored with the dedication of memorial bricks, which will be installed at the Veterans Memorial Plaza, located in front of the medical center – an annual tradition. They will join more than 2,000 which have now been placed at the plaza.

Hosted for the 13th straight year by World War II veteran Robert Burns, Lt. Col., US Army (Ret.), the gathering was an emotional mix of music, tributes and friendly rivalry among veterans from different service branches.

But if they could not agree upon which branch was superior, the audience was in complete agreement about the purpose of the day: paying homage to Americans who have died in service of their country over the generations. U.S. Rep. Ami Bera, D-Elk Grove, and a host of city dignitaries took part in the observance, as well.

“We are so fortunate to be living in the United States of America, the most wonderful country on earth,” said Burns. “We honor those who have protected our freedoms, giving generously to our nation. Some gave all. And remembering them is what Memorial Day is all about.”

Robert Martinelli, Col., USAF (Ret.), a 30-year veteran who spent three tours of duty at Mather AFB, including as commander of the 323rd Flying Training Wing, and presiding over the closure of Mather in 1993, delivered an emotional keynote. Tracing a century of service at Mather, which was opened in response to World War I, closing at the end of the Cold War and continuing to serve the nation today, Martinelli also outlined the pride and dedication of those who served at Mather. His comments drew a standing ovation.

The Rancho Cordova River City Concert Band provided a musical backdrop with pieces dating back to World War I through the Vietnam War, with plenty of patriotic music, as well. Bagpipers Bill Adam and Bill Welch helped close the program with “Amazing Grace.”

The Memorial Day Observance was produced by the Cordova Community Council with the help of a community-based volunteer committee, Cordova High School Jr. ROTC cadets and assistance from the Veterans Administration Northern California Health Care System.

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Women Veterans Alliance Hosts Fun Run-Walk-Ride

By Rachael DiCicco, FSB Core Strategies  |  2019-05-30

Melissa Washington, Founder of the Women Veterans Alliance and Assemblyman Kevin Kiley presenting Maya Washington with an award for top fundraiser. Photo courtesy of Rachael DiCicco, Ford Motor Company

ORANGEVALE, CA (MPG) – On Saturday May 18th, the Women Veterans Alliance hosted its annual Fun Run Walk Ride for Armed Forces Day to bring awareness to women who have served. In addition, the run raised money for Women Veterans Giving to assist women veterans in starting or expanding their business, and to fund their attendance at professional conferences.

“It is our mission at Women Veterans Alliance to create a community of local women veteran groups—a group that may not have received much recognition for serving our country,” said Melissa Washington, Founder of the Women Veterans Alliance. “This Fun Run helps us raise money and awareness, as well as to show support for our military on Armed Forces Day.”

The Fun Run began with an opening ceremony that featured a presentation of colors and National Anthem followed by a fly over from Coast Guard Air Station Sacramento. Assemblyman Kevin Kiley presented certificates to the Top Individual fundraisers, Maya Washington and Lisa Lambert and Team Fundraiser, the Bad Ass Marines.

“It is an honor to be here to support the Women Veterans Alliance on a day as important as Armed Forces Day,” said Assemblyman Kevin Kiley. “What this organization does for our community and Women Veterans is truly extraordinary and I would like to thank all of the amazing women who have served our country.”

Following the Opening Ceremony, runners began the race through Orangevale Community Park while being led by the 2019 Ford Ranger.

The Women Veterans Alliance was established in 2015 to raise awareness of the number of women who serve our country, something that often does not receive much attention. Over 2 million women veterans have served our country and this number is rapidly growing. In addition, over 200,000 are currently defending our freedom at home and abroad.

About Women Veterans Alliance- The Premier Network
The Premier Network helps to connect over 2 million Women Veterans (and our supporters) globally for the purpose of sharing our gifts, talents, resources and experience. To create a community to equip, empower and encourage each other with knowledge, resources, mentorship and career opportunities for women that have served our country to discover and fulfill their greatest potential.

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Trail Brothers to Provide Free Horseback Riding to Veterans

Miranda Raulinaitis, Elmets Communications  |  2019-05-23

Image of riders on Trail Brothers’ horses at Gibson Park. Photo courtesy of Trail Brothers

SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - Veteran owned business, Trail Brothers LLC, will celebrate the grand opening of their equestrian services at Gibson Ranch Park by offering free guided horseback trail rides to veterans and their families this Memorial Day – Monday, May 27 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Those interested in taking advantage of the free guided trail rides must schedule their session in advance by visiting www.GibsonHorses.com.

Zachary Leyden, CEO of Trail Brothers, served as a combat veteran and is thrilled to launch his equestrian services at Gibson Ranch.

“Gibson Ranch is a beautiful park and the perfect destination for veterans and their families to pack a picnic and celebrate this Memorial Day,” said Leyden. “We feel privileged to provide our services on the exceptional trails.”

The Veterans of Foreign Wars will also be selling their “buddy poppies” to celebrate American military service members.

As part of an ongoing partnership with Gibson Ranch Park, Trail Brothers will provide guided trail rides, pony ride and other equestrian services to guests following the Memorial Day grand opening. Gibson Ranch Park is located at 8556 Gibson Ranch Road, Elverta, CA 95626

For more information, please visit: www.gibsonhorses.com.                                        

About Trail Brothers
Trail Brothers began in 2016 and is owned by Zachary Leyden and Kalea Bell. The company provides equestrian services from trail rides, pony rides and horse training to kids camps and riding lessons at three different venues in California. Veterans ride free at all three venues.

About Gibson Ranch Park
Gibson Ranch is one of Northern California’s best family destinations. Located less than fifteen miles from downtown Sacramento, this amazing natural resource offers a wide-range of activities from hiking, to concerts and sports of every kind.

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SACRAMENTO, CA (MPG) - Volunteers of America Northern California and Northern Nevada (VOA) has launched a 40-bed transitional housing and employment services program for veterans experiencing homelessness in Sacramento County.

The program provides furnished temporary housing in individual studio apartments, meals, life skills and financial management classes, pre-employment and vocational training, employment placement assistance, substance abuse support, housing location and transportation services to single male and female veterans. This program is funded through a grant awarded to VOA from the Veterans Administration and is the only “Service Intensive Transitional Housing” program for Veterans in Sacramento County.

“We are very excited to add this invaluable program to Volunteers of America’s existing services for veterans in Sacramento County at Mather Community Campus,” says VOA Division Director, Sherman Haggerty. “This program will allow a unique group of veterans the extra time and help needed to meet their goal of achieving independent living.”

This program offers the first new transitional housing beds for homeless veterans in Sacramento County, in over three years. The housing units are conveniently located at VOA’s Mather Community Campus adjacent to VOA’s Supportive Services for Veteran Families, Homeless Veteran Reintegration Program and the Veteran Service Center all located on the same campus. These housing units are also conveniently located near Sacramento’s Veterans Hospital Administration Hospital. Additional housing units are currently under construction at the Mather campus which will increase local housing inventory.

Volunteers of America Northern California and Northern Nevada provides specialized programs for homeless and at-risk veterans and their families in the Greater Sacramento area. Services include rapid re-housing, case-management and homeless prevention. A large focus is heavily placed on increasing veteran men's and women's employment possibilities through life and job skills classes. 

Founded locally in 1911, the Northern California & Northern Nevada office of Volunteers of America is one of the largest providers of social services in the region. The professional paid staff operates more than 50 programs in categories that include: crisis housing, supportive housing, employment and training services, and corrections. In fact, Volunteers of America provides shelter or housing to nearly 1,800 men, women and children every night in Northern California. Nationally, Volunteers of America helps more than 2.5 million people annually in more than 400 communities. Learn more about Volunteers of America Northern California & Northern Nevada at  www.voa-ncnn.org.

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Young Marines Units from Across the Nation Salute

By Andy Richardson, GR-PR  |  2019-01-04

Four youth members of the Sacramento Young Marines in Carmichael were part of a wreath laying ceremony in Pearl Harbor on Dec. 6, and they marched in the Pearl Harbor Memorial Parade on Dec. 7. The Sacramento Young Marines joined 125 Young Marines from across the country for Pearl Harbor Remembrances.  Photo courtesy Andy Richardson, GR-PR

Traveled to Hawaii for 77th Anniversary of Pearl Harbor Attack

Pearl Harbor, Hawaii (MPG) - One hundred twenty-five youth members of the Young Marines from 25 separate units throughout the United States traveled to Hawaii to participate in the 77th anniversary Pearl Harbor Day Remembrance.

Four youth members of the Sacramento Young Marines in Carmichael were part of a wreath laying ceremony in Pearl Harbor on December 6, and they marched in the Pearl Harbor Memorial Parade on December 7. The Sacramento Young Marines joined 125 Young Marines from across the country for Pearl Harbor Remembrances.

The Young Marines along with the leadership of the American Legion, Marine Corps League Hawaii, and Vietnam Veterans of America Hawaii, performed a wreath laying ceremony at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, the Punchbowl, in memory of all the brave men and women who are interred there.

A significant honor for the Young Marines was leading the Pearl Harbor Memorial Parade in Honolulu. They carried the banners of the 12 capital ships that were attacked. The parade’s objective was to honor the heroes and survivors of Pearl Harbor and World War II, to pay tribute to veterans, active duty military members and military families, to celebrate freedom and to keep in remembrance the heinous events of Dec. 7, 1941.

In addition, the Young Marines cleaned-up three beaches, Ft. Hase Beach, North Beach, and Pyramid Rock Beach, at Marine Corps Base Hawaii.

“The Young Marines met some of the survivors of that historic event of 77 years ago,” said Col William P. Davis USMC (Ret), national executive director and CEO of the Young Marines. “Those veterans are, in every sense of the words - living history, and each has a story to tell. It is an honor for Young Marines to meet these veterans and memorialize the one who are no longer with us.”

Young Marines units raised funds at their local level to supplement the costs of traveling to Hawaii to attend the remembrance ceremonies. Young Marines used their creativity, and applied the program’s core values - leadership, teamwork and discipline - to implement unique and effective fundraising efforts.

The Young Marines is a national non-profit 501c (3) youth education and service program for boys and girls, age eight through the completion of high school. The Young Marines promotes the mental, moral and physical development of its members. The program focuses on teaching the values of leadership, teamwork and self-discipline, so its members can live and promote a healthy, drug-free lifestyle.

Since the Young Marines' humble beginnings in 1959 with one unit and a handful of boys, the organization has grown to 270 units with 9,000 youth and 2,600 adult volunteers in 40 states, the District of Columbia, Japan, and affiliates in other countries.

For more information, visit the official website at: https://www.YoungMarines.com.

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