A day to thank veterans

San Luis Obispo - The TribuneNovember 3, 2013 

In November, we’re encouraged to give thanks for our blessings. On Sunday, at the Morro Bay Veterans Memorial Building  from 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., we can thank and help many who served to make our country safe and our blessings abundant.

“Here in Morro Bay, we have a desperate need to fill for seniors who are veterans and residents who are newly returned from wars overseas,” said event organizer Master Sgt. D’Onna Kennedy. “I started the Central Coast Veterans Support Group because there are so many new laws and benefits. The PTSD and effects of Agent Orange during the Vietnam War are finally recognized by Veterans’ Services. So many individuals I have spoken to lack information and some are too proud to ask for help.”

Sunday’s family event offers beef or chicken dinner with World War II veterans, guest speakers, a silent auction, door prizes and patriotic games for the children. The Morro Bay Chamber of Commerce has tickets — $10 for adults and $5 for veterans and children younger than 10.

Among the veterans:

• Richard Pimentel served in the U.S. Navy during World War II, including in Iwo Jima and Okinawa. His ship was hit by two kamikazes. He
also served in Korea with the Marines and taught radar repair and operations in 1950-51.

Richard, 86, maintains a positive attitude and is the first to step up. Married to Ruth for 63 years, they have three sons.

• Bill Baldwin, 88, was a signalman in the Coast Guard on the USS Wakefield, transporting 8,000 U.S. troops to Europe and bringing back 3,500 German POWs. In 1945, he was assigned to a Coast Guard landing craft that completed four invasions. After attending the University of Rhode Island, he was commissioned as an Army second lieutenant, then became the company commander during the Korean War. Bill also joined the Air Force. His motto is “Life doesn’t have to be perfect to be wonderful.”

• Ray Chavez, 87, was a private first class in WWII with the Transportation Corps returning German POWs to the Russians in Germany. Ray believes “his wealth is not measured in dollars but by his friends and the many lives he’s touched.”

• D’Onna Kennedy, the mother of two young sons, enlisted at 30 and had multiple job assignments, including telephone installer and lineman, and tank mechanic.

“I trained military instructors to become instructors and worked with the DEA, FBI and other law enforcement. I find we can still learn so much from our veterans. This first Veterans Day event will let all veterans and their families know we are here for them.”

For more information, call 440-9263 or email d.kennedy@ccvsg.com.
 

Judy Salamacha’s column is special to The Tribune. Reach her at judysalamacha@gmail.com or 801-1422.

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