God Bless You and God Bless America

By Margaret Snider  |  2019-11-14

RANCHO CORDOVA, CA (MPG) - The Rancho Cordova annual Veterans Day Observance took place at the Cordova High School Performing Arts Center for the first time, enabling veterans, friends and family members to enjoy in comfort.  The River City Concert Band supplied music, and Master of Ceremonies Bob Burns led the program.  Rick Swinford led ceremonial placing of wreaths by National Sojourners.                     

John Hinson, Associate Director of VA Northern California Health Care System, announced the newly placed commemorative bricks as the veterans or their representatives received recognition, escorted by Cordova High School Air Force Junior ROTC.  Hinson served in the U.S. Marine Corps in Afghanistan and Iraq.  “We all have a sense of brotherhood . . .” Hinson said.  “The main thing is camaraderie. It’s not something you get anywhere else.”

A veteran of the U.S. Navy, Lindsey Sin, Deputy Secretary, Women Veterans Affairs, spoke about supporting our veterans.  “We as a society and community of people who want to support our veterans can do a lot when veterans come home,” Sin said, “and even when people are serving active duty to make sure that they’re getting all the support that they need.”  In an interview later Sin said that a lot of progress has been made, but that, “We still have a long way to go to make sure that all military service members are supported, male and female, childless or with children, starting families or not . . . we have some more work to do.”

Keynote speaker David Stockwell, Director, VA Northern California Health Care System, suggested four ways to help a veteran.  First, consider hiring a veteran.  Second, volunteer at your local VA Hospital.  Third, consider donating to a trustworthy veterans’ service organization.  Fourth, don’t forget the ones who are left behind, family members, spouses, left with uncertainty.  “Thinking of a way to step into that gap and meet that need on behalf of a veteran’s family might be something you can do to make a difference for veterans . . .” Stockwell said. “Whether it’s a teenager who is a veteran or someone that is 90 or 100 years old it is important to remember how much they sacrificed for our freedom.  Today is the day we remember that.  So to all veterans, God bless you and God bless America.”


SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - California State Parks is honoring the service of veterans, as well as active and reserve personnel, by offering free admission to 144 state parks on Veterans Day, Monday, November 11.

“We invite our veterans and active/reserve military personnel to wear their uniforms with pride while visiting one of our beautiful parks,” said California State Parks Director Lisa Mangat. “We thank them for their service and sacrifices to our country. This is a small gesture of our gratitude and appreciation.”

A valid military ID must be presented to park staff in order to receive free admission to the California State Railroad Museum (Sacramento), Railtown 1897 State Historic Park (Jamestown), eight state vehicular recreation areas and 134 state parks accessible with the “California Explorer” Annual Pass. A list of participating park units is available at www.parks.ca.gov/VeteransDay2019.                              

Participating parks include sites that honor historic military sites or veterans from the Mexican American War to the Cold War.

AB 150 (Olsen), signed by Governor Edmund G. Brown, Jr. in 2013, authorized California State Parks to offer veterans, active duty, and reserve military personnel from the United States Armed Forces and the National Guard of any state a reduced or free-day use at participating state parks.

California’s 280 state parks and the recreational programs supported by the department are a gateway to the well-being of environments, economies and all people. They offer the opportunity for families, friends and communities to connect through various recreational opportunities such as off-highway motor vehicle recreation, boating activities, horseback riding, on and off-road cycling, hiking, camping, rock climbing, tours, school group enrichment and special events.

Before leaving for a park, find out if any roads, trails and/or campgrounds are closed by visiting the park’s webpage or the park’s social media accounts. Check your destination’s and route’s weather conditions and prepare accordingly. And remember, safely share the road. Be prepared for equestrians, pedestrians, joggers, wildlife, rocks, tree limbs, etc., in the roadway.

California State Parks provides for the health, inspiration and education of the people of California by helping to preserve the state’s extraordinary biological diversity, protecting its most valued natural and cultural resources, and creating opportunities for high-quality outdoor recreation. Learn more at www.parks.ca.gov.

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Lady Jessie and Dick Perry: A Vietnam Story

By Elise Spleiss  |  2019-11-07

Pilots, crew of the VA-164 and hosts at the Crest Theatre in Sacramento left to right: John C. Davis (VA-164 pilot), Don Purdy (VA-164 pilot), Beth Ruyak (host of Insight, Capital Public Radio), Steve Perry (son of Dick Perry), Mike Mullane (VA-164 pilot and Jim Eckes’ cousin), Jim Eckes (DosEckes Productions), Suzanne Eckes-Wahl (DosEckes Productions), Jim Waldron (VA-164) and Larry Duthie (VA-164 pilot). Photo by Marc Thomas Kallweit

SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - It was an unusual pairing during the Vietnam War. Future Navy pilot Richard C. (Dick) Perry and the Gambling Grandmother of Reno, Jessie Beck, met in 1953, while she worked part time at Harold’s Casino. Jessie, a University of Nevada in Reno student, and her husband Fred were running the Keno concession where Perry worked.

The compelling story of their developing friendship tells of the events in their lives, which together with Perry’s death, impacted thousands of our country’s fighting men in Vietnam from 1966 to 1975. Their story was recently turned into a short film, “Lady Jessie - A Vietnam Story” which can be seen on KVIE 6 Sacramento the weekend prior to Veteran’s Day.

On October 30, a free viewing of the 28-minute film, parts of which were filmed in Roseville, was shown at the Crest Theatre in Sacramento. Following the film Beth Ruyak, host of Insight, Capital Public Radio, shared the stage with five surviving members of Perry’s fighter squadron VA-164 as they spoke of their experiences and feelings 50 years later.

The friendship between Perry and Beck grew as she took him under her wing, and continued when he entered the Navy. Perry quickly became a well-respected leader and pilot, and was assigned to an A-4 Skyhawk with Navy Attack Squadron VA-164, known as the Ghostriders in 1966.

While Perry was flying bombing missions over Vietnam his squadron VA-164 and sister squadron VA-163, both stationed on the USS Oriskany, would receive huge packages packed by Beck and her helpers. These gifts ultimately made their way to sailors on other Navy ships.

In honor of her tireless work for his men, Perry gained the blessing of VA-164 commander Paul Engle to paint “Lady Jessie” on his plane, the only plane with a name in the Navy at the time.

Sadly, the Lady Jessie would fly its final mission on August 31, 1967. To the shock and disbelief of all, Perry was shot down several weeks after his 35th birthday by a North Vietnamese surface to air missile (SAM). His body was found but it was too dangerous to recover at the time. The squadron then moved the name of “Lady Jessie” to the lead aircraft, a tradition that continued until 1975.

Jessie stepped up her work for combatants. Ultimately, Jessie ended up sending packages to military units across all of the armed services - the Army, the Navy, the Air Force, and getting many other people involved, including her own family, employees and the people of Reno. In 1968 she received the Award of Merit, the highest award the Defense Department can give a civilian.  It is estimated that tens of thousands of boxes were delivered from 1966-1975.

Beck died in 1987 at the age of 83, after a long career in Reno Gaming. But not before Perry’s body was recovered at the Bay of Tonkin 20 years after his death, and laid to rest in Arlington Cemetery.

Dates for “Lady Jessie” on KVIE 6: November 8, 2019 at 4 p.m.; November 9, 2019 at 7:30 p.m.; and November 10 at 6:30 p.m. plus multiple airings on KVIE 2.


Suzanne Eckes-Wahl, Bloody Sixteen, Peter Fey,

The Rise of the Biggest Little City: An Encyclopedic History of Reno Gaming, John Brown (Jessie’s grandson) 

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SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - With the appointments of Zoe Dunning, Ed Campbell, and Robin Umberg, the California Veterans Board has added three new members in 2019. Dunning and Campbell were appointed by Governor Gavin Newsom. Governor Jerry Brown appointed Umberg in December 2018. She was sworn in on January 2.

The seven-member board hears appeals by veterans who were denied services, including for a home loan, student waiver, or admission into one of CalVet’s eight veterans homes.

Zoe Dunning joined the board on August 2. A retired commander in the U.S. Naval Supply Corps, the 56-year-old was on active duty from 1985 until 1991. After leaving the military, she worked as a manager for the Deloitte Consulting and A.T. Kearney firms. She then worked in operations leadership positions at Webvan and Chestnut Company before serving as a change management consultant with various firms.

She currently serves on the U.S. World War I Centennial Commission, the San Francisco Library Commission, and is on the advisory board for the nonprofit Vets in Tech. Dunning holds a Master of Business Administration in strategy and operations from the Stanford University Graduate School of Business.

Ed Campbell, American Institute of Architects Emeritus, has designed projects nationwide during his illustrious career. A native of Santa Barbara, he joined the Naval Reserve at 17, then enlisted in the Air Force at 19, serving in drafting or logistics duties at Travis Air Force Base, in the Azores, and at the Air Force Flight Test Center at Edwards Air Force base.

He was an architect at USA Architects and Engineers from 1974 to 2014.                                   

Campbell, 80, helped found a home for girls in Connecticut. He also helped create the Ventura Music Festival, where he is a resident at the Veterans Home of California-Ventura. It is one of the eight veterans homes owned by CalVet. His list of professional honors includes a citation from the president of the American Institute of Architects for his work in response to the collapse of high-rise buildings in Bridgeport, Connecticut in 1987.

Robin Umberg brings the experience of her 36-year Army career to the board. She commanded the 6253rd and 4211th Army Hospitals and deployed twice overseas. She earned her Bachelors of Science in Nursing from the Walter Reed Army Institute of Nursing and a Master of Business Administration from the University of Northern Colorado. She was appointed by President Clinton to the West Point Board of Visitors in 2005 – the same year she was promoted to Brigadier General – and ended her military career as the Chief, Professional Services, for the 3rd Medical Command at Ft. Gillem, GA. She focused on battlefield readiness for the more than 27,000 medical personnel. Umberg was inducted into the Order of Military Medical Merit in 2006 and she retired from the Army in 2010.

A year later, Governor Brown appointed her deputy secretary for Veteran Homes at CalVet, and later upgraded her position to undersecretary. She left two years later to beat a battle with cancer. Umberg serves on the Public Private Partnership for Justice Reform in Afghanistan, and is a member of the Veterans Alliance of Orange County. She and her husband, retired Army colonel and current State Senator Tom Umberg, live in Orange County.

Campbell, Dunning, and Umberg join Board Chair Hugh E. Crooks, Jr., who was appointed in 2014; Charlene Taylor, appointed in 2012; Todd Trotter, appointed in 2015; and John Busterud, appointed in 2017.

Contact the California Veterans Board at CalVetBoard@calvet.ca.gov
For more information, please visit CalVetConnect
Follow CalVet on Facebook and Twitter

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CITRUS HEIGHTS, CA (MPG) - The Citrus Heights American Legion Post 637 is once again gearing up to host the annual Veteran’s Appreciation and Resource Picnic to honor the area’s active duty servicemen and servicewomen, our retired veterans of past wars and conflicts, and their families. 

This free event will be held Saturday, August 24, at Rusch Park, 7801 Auburn Blvd. at the Gazebo/Pavilion and picnic area from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. All veterans and their families and friends are welcome.

The day will begin with the Citrus Heights Community Marching Band featuring some of its new repertoire. The Folsom Marine Corp Honor Guard will present colors, followed by the Pledge of Allegiance, and the National Anthem sung by Air Force Army Veteran James Miranda. Immediate Past Commander Paul Reyes will represent newly elected Post 637 Commander Sylvia Thweatt as Master of Ceremonies.

A special ceremony will again be held to honor an outstanding veteran and this year’s Police Officer of the Year.

Folsom resident Robert Snyder enlisted in the U.S. Navy at the age of 17, retiring after 22 years. Part of his service was on the U.S.S. Enterprise. For his second stint of 22 years Snyder worked for the Department of the Army out of the Sacramento Army Depot, helping prepare equipment for use in Operation Desert Storm. Twenty-two years later he again retired from service to his country.

K9 Officer Kyle Shoberg of the Citrus Heights Police Department (CHPD) has served the force for nine years. He will be honored as the American Legion’s Officer of the Year for, among a variety of other accomplishments, “his exceptional performance as a K9 handler, Wellness Advocate and as one for the CHPD’s Top Cops”.

Lunch will be a hot dog and hamburger barbeque with all the fixings prepared by Wild Wade’s BBQ of Citrus Heights. Music will be provided by DJ Carlos Verrett.

Dozens of veteran and non-profit resources including Veteran’s Administration representatives will be available to retired and active duty veterans. Scheduled children’s crafts and other activities will be provided by local Pageant ambassadors and princesses.

Picnic sponsors and members of the community are generously donating gift baskets and other opportunity drawing prizes to show their appreciation to our veterans. Raffles will be held throughout the day.

Covered, accessible picnic tables are available or bring your own chairs, blankets and umbrellas. Thank you for your service.

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SAFE to match up to $10,000 in donations made to Sacramento Stand Down

By Carole Ferguson, SAFE Credit Union  |  2019-08-01

SAFE CU employees volunteer at a Stand Down event. Photo courtesy of SAFE CU

SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - SAFE Credit Union is pledging to donate up to $10,000 in donations made to the Sacramento Stand Down Association to assist that organization in recovering from a recent theft of $40,000 of supplies meant for distribution to Sacramento-area veterans.

Sacramento Stand Down will hold its annual event on Aug. 9-10 where homeless and other veterans in need gather to receive services, medical assistance, and connect with government agencies and businesses to help get their lives back on track. The items stolen in the theft were designated to be given to veterans at the August event.

“When SAFE leaders heard about the unconscionable theft from Sacramento Stand Down Association, they knew that they needed to step in to help,” said SAFE Community and Advocacy Engagement Manager Amanda Merz. “Assisting veterans is one of our main pillars of philanthropy at SAFE and we consider it a privilege to help those who have served us.”

SAFE will match donations made to Sacramento Stand Down Association now through Aug. 10, up to $10,000.

“The veterans that depend on us are in need and now is the time to band together as a community to support them,” said Sacramento Stand Down Association President Randy Smith. “Our promise has been to help and support our homeless veteran population get back on their feet and though this loss has hit us hard, we will not renege on our promise! Our motto is that no brother or sister is left behind, that promise doesn’t have a qualifying statement - it must and will be kept. We thank you for your support and are proud to call you our partner.”

At last year’s two Stand Down events, some 600 volunteers served more than 300 veterans by providing them meals, clothing, medical services, and connections with government agencies, nonprofits, and businesses. Altogether, there are 667 homeless veterans in Sacramento, according to the 2019 Point In Time homeless count. Stand Down works to help homeless veterans who are disabled or mentally ill receive housing.

SAFE Credit Union has made members an integral part of its vision since 1940. Over the years the credit union has kept the focus on what really matters, putting members first, a formula that has seen SAFE grow into a leading financial institution in Northern California with $3 billion in assets and more than 235,000 members. SAFE crafts every cutting-edge product and sterling service with members’ needs foremost in mind.

In addition to banking services conveniently available through online, chat, mobile, or phone options, SAFE offers in-person care for members and small businesses at service centers across the Greater Sacramento region and a mortgage lending office serving Contra Costa and Alameda counties. SAFE is a not-for-profit, state-chartered credit union with membership open to businesses and individuals living or working in Sacramento, Placer, Yolo, El Dorado, Sutter, Butte, Nevada, Solano, San Joaquin, Contra Costa, Yuba, Amador, and Alameda counties. Insured by NCUA. www.safecu.org

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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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