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Manteca mural salutes WWII veterans

The mural “The Spirit of America” by Colleen Mitchell-Veyna, honoring Mantecans who served in World War II, will be dedicated Saturday in Manteca.
The mural “The Spirit of America” by Colleen Mitchell-Veyna, honoring Mantecans who served in World War II, will be dedicated Saturday in Manteca. Manteca Mural Society

A mural honoring Manteca veterans of World War II will be dedicated on July Fourth at Main Street and Yosemite Avenue, on the side of the Bed Quarters building.

“The Spirit of America,” by Colleen Mitchell-Veyna, is the latest of more than three dozen murals started 12 years ago by the Manteca Mural Society.

The nine faces and a flag depicted in the mural incorporate 14 stories of those who served and sacrificed. They are designed to represent the World War II experience of all Manteca residents, according to a news release from the Mural Society.

On the top is a gold star to symbolize the 35 Mantecans who died serving in World War II. Across the bottom are five blue stars reflecting a rarity that Manteca had by being home to a family with five sons serving in the various military branches in the war.

Families with a son serving were given banners with one blue star that typically was displayed in a window facing the street. If they had two sons serving, the banner had two stars.

The five-star banner that was displayed in a window by the men’s mother, Margarita Duran, is on display at the Manteca Historical Society Museum. The Manteca brothers who served were Anthony, Manuel, Richard, Alfonso and Ralph Duran.

Manteca residents whose images grace the mural along with the service they represent are:

▪ Bill Castillo served in the Army as a machine gunner on the front lines in France, Belgium and Germany. He was severely wounded and spent about a year in the hospital recovering. He received a Purple Heart, the Silver Star, three combat stars and the French Legion of Honor.

▪ Leland Elliott enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1941. He was wounded at Guadalcanal and received the Purple Heart.

▪ Maria Huarte (Esteves) was in the Women’s Ambulance and Defense Corps and the Manteca Observation Post. In 1943, she joined the WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Service) and was stationed in New Orleans at the Naval Air Station for most of the three years she was in the service. One of the support jobs she had was teaching English to Mexican soldiers.

▪ Seaman 1st Class John Machado served as a Navy gunner on the battleship USS Mississippi. He was wounded in the second invasion of Leyte in the Pacific Theater. They were being attacked by Japanese zeros, and shrapnel from one of the battleship’s guns pierced his helmet. He served from August 1942 until his death in November 1944. He received the WWII Victory Medal, Purple Heart, Campaign Medal and the Asiatic Pacific Campaign Medal.

▪ Avis Wessling Brewster was an Army nurse from 1942 to 1945. She also was a lieutenant in the Army Air Corps.

▪ Jay Scalf at the age of 17 served in the Coast Guard on an ice-breaking weather ship in the North Atlantic off Greenland. The crew received a letter of appreciation from Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower for gathering weather information used in planning the D-Day invasion.

▪ Woodrow Brumley, Merchant Marine seaman, served in the Pacific Theater with the 7th Fleet. He was on the SS Joseph K. Toole and the MS American Pack taking supplies to Guam, Marshall Islands, Philippines and other islands.

▪ Lt. “Bud” Dickman was a B-17 pilot with the Army Air Corps’ 94th Bomber Group attached to the 8th Air Force in England. He piloted his Flying Fortress on 26 missions over Germany and received the Distinguished Flying Cross with four Oak Leaf Clusters for his heroism and extraordinary action on four occasions. He never lost a man and never lost a plane.

▪ Doris Williams (Knodt) worked at Western Tool and Die in Emeryville, making parts for B-17 bombers.

If you go

  • What: Dedication of “The Spirit of America” mural
  • When: 12:30 p.m. July Fourth
  • Where: Corner of Main Street and Yosemite Avenue
  • Details: Event will include presentation of colors, singing of national anthem, remarks by the muralist, recognition of surviving World War II veterans and speakers including keynote speaker San Joaquin County Supervisor Bob Elliott, retired colonel, Army Special Forces (Green Berets)
  • More info: http://mantecamurals.com, www.facebook.com/mantecamurals
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