Archive for the ‘Military & Veterans’ Category

From Wolverine to Marine to hero: Deer Valley High grad stationed at Camp Pendleton swims 250 meters, saves drowning couple

Saturday, February 20th, 2021

U.S. Marine Corps Brig. Gen. Dan Conley, commanding general, Marine Corps Installations West, Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, presented a challenge coin to Cpl. Jordan Perez, a combat engineer with 7th Engineer Support Battalion, 1st Marine Logistics Group, at the 21 Area Boat Basin, Feb. 19, 2021. Conley commended Perez for saving a couple after their kayak flipped over in the basin. Perez swam nearly 250 meters to escort them safely back to the beach. (Snapshot of U.S. Marine Corps video by Sgt. Dylan Chagnon)

“That was really gutsy of you.” – U.S. Marine Brig. Gen. Dan Conley, Camp Pendleton Commanding General

“It’s what Marines are expected to do.” – Cpl. Jordan Perez.

U.S. Marine Cpl. Jordan Perez, a combat engineer with 7th Engineer Support Battalion, 1st Marine Logistics Group, poses for a photo in the 21 Area of Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California, Feb. 19, 2021. Perez was awarded a challenge coin for saving a couple after their kayak flipped over in the 21 Area Boat Basin. Perez is a native of Antioch, California. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Alison Dostie)

By Lance Cpl. Angela Wilcox

Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton  

CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. – A young Marine was recognized for actions taken on Feb. 15th, 2021, when he saved the lives of two civilian kayakers at the 21 Area Boat Basin.

Cpl. Jordan Perez, a combat engineer with 7th Engineer Support Battalion, 1st Marine Logistics Group, was present when a married couple was calling for help from the water. The boat basin, surrounded by large, sharp boulders, produced unforgiving waves that day that flipped their kayak. Through these waves, Perez estimated that he had to swim 250 meters to reach the kayakers and bring them to shore – a feat that may have proven impossible for some. Luckily for the couple, Perez was physically and mentally prepared due to the consistent and rigorous training of the Marine Corps.

According to Antioch Unified School District Superintendent, Stephanie Anello, the 6’1″ Perez is a 2018 graduate of Deer Valley High School, where he played varsity baseball as catcher and football as a safety and wide receiver for the Wolverines. The Antioch native was also a member of the Chess Club. His parents are Baltazar and Celestina Pérez of Antioch.

Perez received a challenge coin from U.S. Marine Brig. Gen. Dan Conley, the commanding general of Marine Corps Installations West, Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, on Feb. 19th, 2021. Perez credits his military training with giving him the confidence to jump into action. (See video)

At around 1 p.m. on Feb. 15th, 2021, Perez was working on a construction project at the 21 Area Del Mar Boat Basin at Camp Pendleton, when another Marine witnessed a couple in the water that had been flipped from their kayak by a strong wave. The kayakers were struggling in the water and began calling for help.

Perez played catcher for the Deer Valley Wolverines during the 2018 season. Source: MaxPreps

“That’s when I took action,” said Perez. “I took my boots off and just started swimming.”

Once Perez arrived at the scene, he immediately “…grabbed the woman’s hand and pulled her back on the kayak and began pushing the boat back to the rocks,” said Perez. He mentioned that the woman’s husband was able to swim, but halfway to the shore he began to panic. Upon noticing the husband’s struggle, Perez swam back to where the man was, placed a life vest on him, and continued pushing the woman to safety.

For his actions, Perez was paid a visit by Conley and received a challenge coin at the worksite where the event occurred.

While Perez was not the only Marine to recognize the severity of the situation, he was particularly ready for this moment. Perez is currently training with a retired reconnaissance Marine in order to prepare for assessment and selection with the Marine Raiders. Achieving this goal includes swimming for about two hours every day.

Del Mar Boat Basin. Source: Mapcarta

Perez’s hard work paid off when it mattered most. “That [training] takes away any hesitation that comes with putting your own life at risk. Since I had been training, I was confident that I could get myself out there and get those people back.”

Conley had a conversation with Perez, commending him for his life saving actions. “I’d like to believe a lot of people would do what you did, but I know they wouldn’t. So, to hear it actually happen is just amazing. That was really gutsy of you.” said Conley.

What was extraordinary to Conley was the standard that Perez holds himself to. “It’s what Marines are expected to do.” said Perez.

Although the actions that Perez took were heroic, Perez contends that all Marines, given the opportunity, would do the same. “It’s what Marines are expected to do.” said Perez.

Allen Payton contributed to this report.

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Veterans needed for paid USAA TV commercial

Thursday, February 11th, 2021

By J.R. Wilson, President, Delta Veterans Group

If you are a veteran and have always wanted to be in a TV commercial here is your chance

RJH CASTING IS LOOKING FOR VETERANS FOR A TV COMMERCIAL!

Seeking:

Male & Female Veterans from all branches, Ages 55-75

Male & Female Veterans from all branches, Ages 22-40, Physically fit

Some roles will require filming in veteran’s personal living space.

Active duty military are not eligible to participate.

If this sounds like you or someone you know, please send the below information ASAP to: usaacasting2021@gmail.com

Name/Age/Military branch/Rank/Date separated from military

Contact Info (phone, email, city/state)

Family members in your household (list names, relation and ages)

Other family & friends in your immediate Covid safety bubble (list names, relation and ages)

Briefly describe your living space (house, apartment, condo)

Attach recent photos of yourself, spouse, family/friends in your household and Covid safety bubble.

Project Details (if you’re selected):

PAID Union Commercial for USAA (USAA membership is a plus but not required)

Shoot Date: Week of March 15th with a tech rehearsal week of March 8th. 

*This commercial will be filmed in and/or around actual homes of the veterans selected.

Hope to see you on TV… Good luck.

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TreVista Antioch Support for Senior Veterans virtual event Jan. 26

Thursday, January 14th, 2021

Click here to RSVP.

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Rep. McNerney to hold virtual Veterans Town Hall Thursday, Dec. 10

Tuesday, December 8th, 2020

As part of his commitment to transparency around the construction of the new veterans’ healthcare facility, Congressman Jerry McNerney (CA-09) will host a virtual veterans town hall to update the community on the progress of the project and to discuss the pressing issues facing our nation’s veterans.

On Thursday, December 10th, from 1:30 PM to 2:30 PM, Congressman McNerney will be joined by representatives from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) to take questions and listen to concerns from constituents.

Join Online:

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/88948595816?pwd=SGZzOS9EUXZnWUU4ZkNza3ZaUWNtdz09

Passcode: 148324

Join by Phone:

(312) 626-6799

Webinar ID: 889 4859 5816

Passcode: 148324

Additionally, constituents can submit a question in advance of the event here.

Since coming to Congress, Congressman McNerney has led the efforts for the development of the French Camp facility – from working with federal and local officials on selection of the building site to securing the funding for construction. He has pushed to expedite the project, sending several letters to authorities, meeting regularly with VA and Corps officials, and urging that ongoing correspondence and updates be made available to his office and the public. This project hit a major milestone in November of 2019 when Congressman McNerney attended the groundbreaking ceremony of this facility.

 

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U.S. Army SFC James George is the December 2020 Hero of the Month

Tuesday, December 8th, 2020

The Delta Veterans Group announced the Memorial Banner Program Hero of the Month for December 2020 is U.S. Army Sergeant First Class James Edward George. He served in both Korea and Vietnam, and as a Past Commander for the Antioch VFW. George was also the father of Antioch City Councilmember Lori Orgochock. His banner is located on L Street near the Veterans Memorial at the Antioch Marina.

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Pearl Harbor veterans to be honored in virtual “Eye of Diablo” Beacon-Lighting Ceremony December 7

Saturday, November 28th, 2020

Mount Diablo’s Beacon lights the nighttime sky on December 7. Copyright Stephen Joseph; used with permission.

Commemorative Pictorial Postmark Announced

By Laura Kindsvater, Communications Manager, Save Mount Diablo

This December 7th, National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day, three local survivors of World War II’s “Day of Infamy”—the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941—will share their stories as part of a virtual ceremony filmed primarily atop Mount Diablo.

Sponsors of the yearly event, including local land trust Save Mount Diablo, California State Parks, Sons and Daughters of Pearl Harbor Survivors Chapter 5, and California State University– East Bay, are proud to present a virtual celebration this year beginning at 4:30 p.m. Pacific Standard Time on Monday, December 7th.

In a 45-minute video, three local East Bay survivors of the Pearl Harbor attack will recount their experiences that fateful day. Speakers will then pay tribute to those who sacrificed their lives and honor those yet living, “Lest We Forget” the tragedy that befell the country nearly six decades ago and the way we came together after the attack.

Three Pearl Harbor survivors and the crowd celebrating the Beacon being lit and looking up to the Summit of Mount Diablo from the California State University–East Bay Concord Campus on December 7, 2018. Photo by Richard Usinger.

“When that beacon light is turned on, that’s a tribute to those individuals who lost their lives at Pearl Harbor,” said Pearl Harbor survivor Earl “Chuck” Kohler from Concord.

Save Mount Diablo’s Executive Director Ted Clement noted, “This year it is especially important that we come together as a nation to honor National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day and those who served. Reflecting on that day and the aftermath reminds us of the strength of our nation when we come together even amidst great adversity. Our December 7th virtual event will enable more people to come together on this important day.”

Eddie Guaracha, California State Parks Diablo Range District Superintendent, stated, “As we reflect on this historic event, it is not only critical to remember the many lives that were lost, but also to remember the selfless acts undertaken by many on this fateful day. This is the spirit of our country in critical times. It is an honor to represent California State Parks on this momentous occasion, and I hope we can all remember to radiate kindness toward one another, as we remember those who gave all on this day.”

“As we pass through difficult, often divisive times ourselves, the sacrifices borne by the American people following that fateful morning some 79 years ago should give us all an enormous sense of pride, and most importantly, hope for the future. Cal State East Bay is honored to once again participate in this annual act of remembrance,” said Robert Phelps, Director of the California State University–East Bay (Concord Campus).

The U.S. Postal Service, in commemoration of this year’s National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day, is issuing a special pictorial postmark. The postmark can be obtained by following the instructions here.

Those interested in witnessing this year’s virtual Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day Ceremony can find the video link on Save Mount Diablo’s home page at 4:30 PM on December 7th at www.savemountdiablo.org.

Background

Every year since 1964, the Pearl Harbor survivors and their families have memorialized Pearl Harbor Day by relighting the historic Beacon atop Mount Diablo’s summit.

The Beacon was originally lit by Charles Lindbergh in 1928 to assist in the early days of commercial aviation. The Beacon shone from the summit of Mount Diablo each night until December 8, 1941, the day after the attack on Pearl Harbor.

It was not relit until December 7, 1964, when Fleet Admiral Chester Nimitz, Commander in Chief of Pacific Forces during World War II, attended a ceremony on Mount Diablo’s summit in commemoration of the survivors of Pearl Harbor. He suggested that the Beacon be lit every December 7th to honor those who served and sacrificed.

Save Mount Diablo, California State Parks, the Sons and Daughters of Pearl Harbor Survivors Chapter 5, California State University–East Bay (Concord Campus), and others organize the annual lighting ceremony of the Beacon every December 7th in honor of the National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day.

One of the bright lights provided to the San Francisco Bay Area during this pandemic is the Mount Diablo Beacon, which Save Mount Diablo staff and volunteers light every Sunday night after sunset so that the Beacon can shine brightly through the darkness until it is rested after sunrise on Monday.

Save Mount Diablo’s lighting of the Beacon every week is a way to thank our heroes in these troubling times, to help our communities come together, and to remind people to lift their eyes to the light and nature.

Save Mount Diablo began this weekly lighting of the Beacon on Sunday, April 12th, Easter Sunday. However, the Beacon will not be lit on Sunday, November 29th and Sunday, December 6th to build anticipation for and honor the coming National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day. After the December 7th ceremonial lighting of the Beacon, Save Mount Diablo will resume the weekly lighting of the Beacon for as long as the pandemic rages here.

Commemorative Pictorial Postmark Announced

As a community service, the U.S. Postal Service™ offers pictorial postmarks to commemorate local events celebrated in communities throughout the nation.

Those who wish to obtain the postmark may submit a mail order request. Requests must be postmarked no later than 30 days following the requested pictorial postmark date.

All requests must include a stamped envelope or postcard bearing at least the minimum First-Class Mail® postage. Items submitted for postmark may not include postage issued after the date of the requested postmark. Such items will be returned unserviced.

Customers wishing to obtain a postmark must affix stamps to any envelope or postcard of their choice, address the envelope or postcard to themselves or others, insert a card of postcard thickness in envelopes for sturdiness, and tuck in the flap. Place the envelope or postcard in a larger envelope and address it to: Pictorial Postmarks, followed by the Name of the Station, Address, City, State, ZIP+4® Code, as listed next to the postmark.

Customers can also send stamped envelopes and postcards without addresses for postmark, as long as they supply a larger envelope with adequate postage and their return address. After applying the pictorial postmark, the Postal Service returns the items (with or without addresses) under addressed protective cover.

About Sons and Daughters of Pearl Harbor Survivors

It is the mission of the SDPHS to create programs that inspire youth and adults to learn and document the history of the beginning of WWII and the days that followed from people who experienced it and from their ancestors. Learn more at www.sdphs.org.

About Save Mount Diablo

SMD is a nationally accredited, nonprofit land trust founded in 1971 with a mission to preserve Mount Diablo’s peaks, surrounding foothills, and watersheds through land acquisition and preservation strategies designed to protect the mountain’s natural beauty, biological diversity, and historic and agricultural heritage; enhance our area’s quality of life; and provide recreational opportunities consistent with the protection of natural resources. Learn more at www.savemountdiablo.org.

About California State Parks

To provide 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.

About California State University–East Bay

Cal State East Bay welcomes and supports a diverse student body with academically rich, culturally relevant learning experiences that prepare students to apply their education to meaningful lifework, and to be socially responsible contributors to society. Through its educational programs and activities, the university strives to meet the educational needs and to contribute to the vitality of the East Bay, the state, the nation, and global communities. Learn more at www.csueastbay.edu.

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Antioch celebrates Veterans Day with drive-in ceremony

Thursday, November 12th, 2020

Bill Ridle wave while being honored as the 2020-21 Antioch Veteran of the Year.

Honor 2020-21 Antioch Veteran of the Year and Veteran for Lifetime Achievement

By Allen Payton

The residents of Antioch, under the lead of J.R. Wilson and the Delta Veterans Group, honored local veterans during a unique, drive-in Veterans Day Celebration Wednesday morning. Bill Ridle was announced and introduced as the 2020-21 Antioch Veteran of the Year and Jimmy Bean was honored with the Veterans Lifetime Achievement award.

Jimmy Bean (light blue suit) honored with the Antioch Veterans Lifetime Achievement award, by Antioch council members, former Antioch Veterans of the Year, Randy Tei (with plaque) owner of Smith’s Landing Seafood Grill and J.R. Wilson, President of the Delta Veterans Group during the 2020 Antioch Veterans Day Celebration on Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2020.

In addition, Tom Menasco was honored for his volunteer service with the Veterans Banner program.

Those in attendance, sitting in their cars, showed their appreciation by honking their horns.

Dr. Dan Helix, Major General (Retired) of the U.S. Volunteers, the honor guard that officiates funerals of U.S. military veterans, provided the following keynote speech:

Veterans Day 2020

By MG Dan Helix, USV (Ret.)

How great is it that we finally get to celebrate this new memorial? Looks good, doesn’t it? And I would like to personally thank Mayor Sean Wright, Mayor-elect Lamar Thorpe (Navy Veteran) and the entire City Council of Antioch in allowing the vets of this city to be so involved in the undertaking of building this tribute.

Let me start out today with a famous quote:

I did my fact checking on this quote, and it is now widely debunked as actually to have been said by the first President, George Washington, but this is one of those cases where if he didn’t say it – he should have because this is the Quote:

“The willingness with which our young people are likely to serve in any war, no matter how justified, shall be directly proportional to how they perceive the Veterans of earlier wars were treated and appreciated by their nation.”

That was just too good to pass up.

It is an honor for me to speak to you today and represent the 21.8 million veterans in this country on this occasion. (and those are just ones we have with us today) 21.8 million veterans may sound like a lot, until you dig a little deeper into the math. There are 326.7 Million people in this country which puts the percentage of those who ever served in one of our country’s uniforms, and that includes the vets of War II and Korea and Viet Nam up through the current Action in Iraq and Afghanistan, at 6.7%. My dad used to say that only one in 10 Americans ever served in a uniform and the other nine are glad they did. Can’t say that anymore. 6.7%. And that dwindling percentage of the population has special knowledge of what it takes to complete the sacrifice of raising one’s hand swearing to protect and defend the constitution of the United States, and in turn the citizens of this great country. This day is not about politics. This day is not about a Commander in Chief, this day is not about elected officials. This day is about the willingness of a relatively small group of United States citizens who, despite the inherent dangers involved, who refuse to let down the guard necessary to maintain a safe, democratic, and free country.

Today we celebrate those who put others first for the sake of that freedom. While it may true that not everyone has a purely altruistic reason for raising their hand, signing the blank check of their lives over to the people and ideals of this great country, no one escapes that deep sense of the sacrifice once they have completed their term of service, be it three years or a whole career.

You know, it is common today for folks to tell us vets, when we are wearing a hat or a shirt identifying us as proud military veterans, to say “thank you for your service”. And while that is appreciated, usually because it is quite apparent that it is sincere, I find it peculiar that the group that says it more than any other is the vets themselves, one to another. I have been in several states that are very outwardly friendly toward to the military and vets, and in one state, when were out for a meal as a unit, in unform, we ran up a $300 bill. When I went to pay the bill, the cashier told me it was all taken care of, and “thank you for your service”. Wow, that was nice. But later that day, still in uniform, as I passed by a Viet Nam vet as I could see from his 4th Infantry Division hat, he looked at me and said, “Thank you for your service, sir”. All I could think of was “wow, that came from a place few could claim”. The tide has turned since the time when I was going to college. In fact, I think I know when it started to turn.  In 1983, there was still backlash at our Viet Nam vets, though it was subsiding from the mid 70’s, it was still apparent, especially where I got my commission from, the only university in the country that got combat pay – UC Berkeley.  (a little vet humor there) But seriously, things were turning from vilifying those that were simply following orders, many of whom had no choice because they were drafted.

In October 1983, American forces went to Grenada to liberate many American citizens that were going to medical school there and had been taken captive by the Cuban Army.  They were successful. The next day the Daily Cal newspaper ran a headline saying, “Thank God for the U.S. Army Rangers and the United States Marine Corps”. Clearly, they identified as students, that our forces saved lives and freed innocent people from the attempt of a tyrannical dictator to assert his will and greed in a place he thought would be inconsequential to the US. But he miscalculated the will of a free country to protect its own.

Now, I have to insert a personal story here. I was the Battalion Executive Office, less than two months away from commission when this happened. When it first happened I was called and told not to come into the unit in uniform, but rather “mufti” – civilian clothes. It was then we learned of the headline I just spoke of, and the COL decided we would conduct training as usual the next day.

The next, at the beginning of training, as I was in front of the battalion formation, I noticed a rather “non-military” appearing individual off to my left. I gave the command for the unit commanders to move their units out to training, they saluted me, I returned their salute, and this guy starts walking towards me. Well, from my previous experience on campus… I thought –  uh oh –  here it comes. My three Company Commanders saw this too and they started running towards me, thinking I was going to get myself into trouble. When this bearded individual with rather long hair, a tie dye shirt and sandals got within about ten feet of me he stopped. As I braced for the torrent of profanities that usually accompanied this proximity of Berkeley students this guy said “Man, I wouldn’t do what you do for a million bucks, But I sure am glad you’re doing it.” I mumbled a shocked, “Thanks” and turned around and went on his way. When my 3 Company Commanders got to me it was all over and they asked what he said. I just shook my head in disbelief. In my experience, that is when it turned. Now, my little story might sound a bit myopic, but I do not think it is unique. America has come around to understand that its service members and veterans 1. Answered a call bigger than themselves, 2. All of us come back changed, and that in and of itself is a sacrifice, and 3. Some of what we do has nothing to do with personal agreement or disagreement –  we follow orders, and that is what signed up to do –  for the sake of freedom, for the sake of others, for the sake of our democracy and its citizens.

This is what Veterans’ Day is all about. Selfless, sacrificial service for ideals that this country still stands for.

One last thing. I do not know if you are aware how involved with serving homeless vets the VSO’s of the area are. I have to give a shout out to my comrades in the VFW, American Legion DAV and especially the leadership of JR Wilson and the DVG. These organizations have banded together to help out so many veterans with life sustaining assistance. And the service they provide to getting homeless veterans off the street is impressive. My day job is as a Case Manager for Shelter, Inc, an organization that is very involved with housing homeless vets, and several times when it looked as though a vet was not going to be able to get housing or something needed in order to get housing, these organizations have come through doe so many. Claude Battaglia with Independent Living Resources  should be included in that group, as well.

I am proud of the Veterans in East County who have made sure that No Man (or Woman) Is Left Behind. And how nice it is to be in a community that joins with us, as wonderful support and encouragement to be a part of the solution for those veterans who have fallen on difficult times.

So on this Veterans day 2020, On behalf of those who proudly served you, the American citizen, as many of you have Thank you for your service, let us say back to you, Thank you for your support.

God Bless you, God bless our military and veterans and God Bless America.

Please check back later for more photos and videos of the ceremonies.

 

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VFW Post Commander Denny Hollison honored by Chamber as Antioch’s Veteran of the Year

Wednesday, November 11th, 2020

Antioch Veteran of the Year Denny Hollingsworth is congratulated by Antioch Chamber of Commercee Board Chair Terry Ramus and presented with a plaque by COO and Mayor Sean Wright. Photo: Antioch Chamber of Commerce.

To be honored, again today during drive-in Antioch Veterans Day Celebration

This is part of a continued series of the annual community awards by the Antioch Chamber of Commerce.

On Friday night, Sept. 24 the Antioch Chamber of Commerce held its Gala Dinner, this year virtually, and honored the city’s most outstanding residents and organizations with their annual awards.

Just because active duty may have ended doesn’t mean those that have protected our freedoms stop serving. Such is the case with the Veteran of the Year award. Award recipients remain heavily involved and active in the community.

Veteran of the Year – U.S. Army, Vietnam Veteran, Past Galt VFW Commander, and current Antioch VFW Post 6435 Commander, Denny Hollison

Denny Hollison lays wreath at 2018 Antioch Memorial Day. Photo from his Facebook page.

Born in Des Moines, Iowa on January 29, 1947, to a large family and raised between Los Angeles and Galt, CA, Jimmy “Denny” Hollison joined the United States Army as a Heavy Truck Operator and was sent to South Vietnam in 1968. Denny was stationed with the 101st Airborne Division (2nd BN, 502nd Inf. Division) as a “Road Warrior”

In 1970 Denny became a Life Member of the VFW and in 1972 Denny served as the Galt VFW Commander, and was a High School Football Coach for Galt and Livermore, CA. Denny Hollison became the Antioch VFW Post 6435 Commander in 2016 and still serves the post in that capacity.

He takes great pride, in being a member of the Antioch VFW Post 6435 where he gives back to the community and helps veteran’s in need. Denny is a constant advocate for the veteran’s here in the City of Antioch! He has served as the Security Coordinator for Contra Costa Counties Homeless Veteran “Stand Down on the Delta” since 2015.

Denny and his wife Diane Marie Hollison have three children, Sara Ruegg Hollison, Paul D. Hollison and Kyle Gottwald.

The 2020-21 Antioch Veteran of the Year along with the Veteran of the Year for Lifetime Achievement will be announced and honored, today at the drive-in Antioch Veterans Day Celebration which begins at 10:00 a.m. at the marina, foot of L Street. (See related article).

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