Archive for the ‘Military & Veterans’ Category

Gov. Newsom sends National Guard to assist with COVID-19 testing in Antioch Saturday

Tuesday, January 11th, 2022

California National Guard personnel arrive at the Antioch Community Center testing site on Saturday, Jan. 8, 2022. Photo: Office of Governor Gavin Newsom

Four sent to help at Prewett Family Park site in unusual deployment of state’s military personnel

SACRAMENTO – Governor Gavin Newsom announced on Friday that he had activated the California National Guard to support local communities with additional testing facilities and capacity amid the national surge in COVID-19 cases driven by the Omicron variant. The California National Guard is part of the National Guard of the United States, a dual federal-state military reserve force. The CA National Guard has three components: the CA Army National GuardCA Air National Guard, and CA State Guard.

According to their website, the California National Guard is “a community-based land force maintained at the optimum level of preparedness and readiness for service to the state and nation” that “organizes, trains, equips, and resources community-based land forces. On order, mobilizes to support state and/or federal authority.”

Under the control of the governor, National Guard functions range from limited actions during non-emergency situations to full scale law enforcement of martial law.

Residents stand in line in Antioch for a COVID test on Saturday, Jan. 8, 2022. Video screenshot. Source: Office of Governor Newsom

“California has led the country’s fight against COVID-19, implementing first-in-the-nation public health measures that have helped save tens of thousands of lives,” said Governor Newsom. “We continue to support communities in their response to COVID by bolstering testing capacity.”

The announcement comes as Omicron continues to spread rapidly across the globe, accounting for at least 80% of COVID-19 cases in California. The National Guard plan deployed over 200 Cal Guard members across 50 Optum Serve sites around the state, providing interim clinical staff while permanent staff are hired, adding capacity for walk-ins, assisting with crowd control and back-filling for staff absences – all in an effort to conduct more tests for more Californians. Additional members of the Guard are being deployed this week in similar capacities.

As part of the highly unusual deployment of the National Guard, four personnel were in Antioch at Prewett Family Park’s Community Center parking lot on Saturday. They made sure everyone was signed up for a test. In an ABC7 News report, Mayor Lamar Thorpe said, “We’re excited to have the National Guard show up and provide us support. In eastern Contra Costa County, we have some of the highest rates of COVID infection. I’m excited we’re working collaboratively to solve this pandemic.”

Click here for vido of California National Guard personnel assisting the Antioch Community Center testing site on Saturday, which doubled the number of testing windows and the number of appointments available per day.

This new action is on top of the existing 6,000 testing sites that have been set up across the state, the recent demand-based expansion of hours at state-operated sites and the 9.6 million tests that the state has distributed to schools since early December.

According to the governor’s office, these measures will bolster California’s already robust testing program – the most extensive in the nation. Currently, 90% of Californians live within a 30-minute drive of a site. Amidst the surge, the state has been able to maintain a 48-hour turn around for PCR tests.

To date, California has administered almost 67 million vaccination doses and over 122.7 million tests. In recent months, Governor Newsom implemented a series of measures to slow the spread of COVID-19, including first-in-the-nation vaccine and masking measures requiring that workers in health care settings be fully vaccinated, announcing plans to add the COVID-19 vaccine to the list of vaccinations required to attend school in-person when fully approved, requiring masking in schools and implementing a standard that all school staff and all state workers either show proof of full vaccination or be tested. To help slow the spread of COVID-19, Californians are encouraged to get vaccinated, get boosted, wear a mask indoors and get tested if sick.

Allen Payton contributed to this report.


Photo Cutline – California National Guard personnel arrive at Antioch Community Center testing site on Saturday. Source: Office of Governor Gavin Newsom


Video screenshot

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Mt. Diablo Beacon to be lit Tuesday to commemorate Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day

Monday, December 6th, 2021

The Mt. Diablo Beacon. Photo by Clayton Worsdell

A day that will live in infamy, and in our hearts forever.

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.

Since that day in 1964, the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association and now the Sons and Daughters of Pearl Harbor Survivors with co-sponsor Save Mount Diablo have memorialized Pearl Harbor Day by turning on the summit Beacon atop Mount Diablo. The Beacon now shines on December 7th each year.

The 2021 Beacon lighting ceremony will be on December 7th at California State University, East Bay Concord Campus. The USS Arizona viewing begins at 3:00 PM, the ceremony begins at 3:45 PM, and the Beacon lighting is at 5:00 PM. The ceremony will be outdoors.

The program begins with the posting of colors, pledge of allegiance, and national anthem, followed by opening remarks by Ted Clement, Executive Director of Save Mount Diablo and then ceremonial observations by Eddie Guaracha, Diablo Range District Superintendent for California State Parks.

Robert Phelps, PhD, Executive Director of California State University, East Bay Concord Campus will then be invited to speak. Pearl Harbor survivors in attendance will also be invited to speak. A performance of “America the Beautiful” by Erin Hegerty will follow. Then Frank Dorritie of Bugles Across America will perform “Taps.”

“The Beacon lighting is a tribute to those individuals that lost their lives at Pearl Harbor,” remarked Earl “Chuck” Kohler, one of the few remaining survivors in Contra Costa County.

The ceremony is also an opportunity to honor the survivors.

The Beacon on Mount Diablo was originally installed and illuminated in 1928 to aid in transcontinental aviation. It is one of the four guiding beacons installed along the west coast by Standard Oil of California and is the only one known to still be operational.

After the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Beacon’s light was extinguished during the west coast blackout, for fear it could enable an attack on California. It stayed dark until Pearl Harbor Day in 1964, when Fleet Admiral Chester Nimitz, Commander in Chief of Pacific Forces during World War II, relit the Beacon in a commemorative ceremony and suggested it be illuminated every December 7th to honor those who served and sacrificed.

Since that day, Pearl Harbor veterans and their families have gathered every December 7th to see the Beacon light shine once again.

The Beacon now shines brighter than ever since it underwent an extensive restoration process in 2013 (thanks to a campaign led by Save Mount Diablo) to ensure it continues to shine for many more years. The Pearl Harbor Survivors now know that the Beacon will shine long after they are gone.

The Beacon is lit at sunset and shines all night on this evening each year. It has not been lit since Sunday, April 11, 2021 when Save Mount Diablo concluded a year of lighting it weekly to bring light and hope to our region during the worst of the pandemic.

Save Mount Diablo is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization and nationally accredited 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. The organization is currently involved with its important year-end appeal to raise critical resources for its time-sensitive land conservation mission. To learn more and to support Save Mount Diablo, please visit



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Antioch honors military service members with Veterans Day ceremony, parade and BBQ lunch

Thursday, November 18th, 2021

The new Antioch Veterans Memorial mural.

Tom Menasco honored as Antioch Lifetime Veteran of the Year and J.R. Wilson as Antioch Veteran of the Year 2021-22

By Allen Payton

Antioch honored its military veterans on Veterans Day, on the 11th day of the 11th month, last Thursday, with a pancake breakfast, ceremonies at the Antioch Marina boat launch, a parade down W. Second Street in historic, downtown and a BBQ lunch at the VFW Post. The ceremony also included a rededication of the Antioch Veterans Memorial with the new mural on display for the first-time during Veterans Day. It concluded with the presentation of the Antioch Lifetime and Veterans of the Year.

The festivities began with the breakfast provided by the Antioch Rivertown Veterans Lions Club while the band Spinning Wheel performed on stage. J.R. Wilson, President of the Delta Veterans Group and Velma Wilson served as M.C.’s for the ceremony. The opening prayer was offered by Gabe Makinano, the presentation of colors by the Sea Cadets, the raising of the flag by the Antioch Police Department Honor Guard, the Pledge of Allegiance was led by Matthew Wilson and the National Anthem was performed by Velma Wilson. Taps was then performed by a trumpeter from the Antioch High School Marching Band. Martha Parsons then introduced local officials, other dignitaries and their representatives. District 3 Councilwoman Lori Ogorchock and District 2 Councilman Mike Barbanica were in attendance.

The combined bands of Antioch High and Deer Valley High Schools performed the official songs of all four military branches including the U.S. Air Force’s song Wild Blue Yonder, the Navy Hymn, The Army Goes Rolling Along and The Marines’ Hymn.

Tom Menasco of the Veterans Memorial Banner Program honored the key volunteers who have helped make the program a reality. There are now 158 banners lining Antioch streets honoring local veterans. Another nine will be posted by Christmas, he shared.

Student speakers included Annabelle Van Dyke, a fourth grader at Mission Elementary School and eighth grader Blake West, the student body president at Park Middle School.

The Antioch Veterans Memorial was rededicated, with a special plaque presented to former Antioch Mayor Sean Wright. Artist Javier Rocabado spoke, again about the mural he was commissioned to paint.

Tom Menasco was honored with the Antioch Lifetime Veterans of the Year 2021-22 by 2017 honoree Paul Scannell, and J.R. Wilson was honored as the Antioch Veteran of the Year 2021-22.

That was followed by the parade flowing west to east on W. Second Street. A barbeque lunch was then held at the Antioch VFW Post 6435 ending the day’s activities.

The day’s sponsors included the Antioch Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), Antioch American Legion, Delta Veterans Group, City of Antioch Parks and Recreation, Maintenance and Police Departments, Antioch Rivertown Veterans Lions Club, Tri Delta Transit and Smith’s Landing Seafood Grill.

Jack Silva of Silva’s Family Memorials stands next to the monument his company made and was erected in 1996 and dedicated in May 1997. It is made of granite all quarried in California. His sister Janice Silva-Moore is the company owner.

The band Spinning Wheel performed before the ceremony began.

Gabe Makinano offered the opening and closing prayers.

Velma Wilson sang the National Anthem.

Taps was performed by a trumpeter from the Antioch High School Marching Band.

Tom Menasco speaks about the Veterans Memorial Banner Program and honors the key volunteers.

The key Veterans Banner program volunteers honored with plaques.

Annabelle Van Dyke, a fourth grader at Mission Elementary School was one of the student speakers during the ceremony.

District 3 Councilwoman Lori Ogorchock speaks during the ceremony, representing the City.

Eighth grader Blake West and student body president at Park Middle School

Former Antioch Mayor Wright was presented with a plaque by J.R. Wilson to honor him for his leadership on the improvements to the Veterans Memorial and new mural.

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A brief history of Veterans Day

Thursday, November 11th, 2021


Veterans Day, formerly known as Armistice Day, was originally set as a U.S. legal holiday to honor the end of World War I, which officially took place on November 11, 1918. In legislation that was passed in 1938, November 11 was “dedicated to the cause of world peace and to be hereafter celebrated and known as ‘Armistice Day.'” As such, this new legal holiday honored World War I veterans.

In 1954, after having been through both World War II and the Korean War, the 83rd U.S. Congress — at the urging of the veterans service organizations — amended the Act of 1938 by striking out the word “Armistice” and inserting the word “Veterans.” With the approval of this legislation on June 1, 1954, Nov. 11 became a day to honor American veterans of all wars.

In 1968, the Uniforms Holiday Bill ensured three-day weekends for federal employees by celebrating four national holidays on Mondays: Washington’s Birthday, Memorial Day, Veterans Day, and Columbus Day. Under this bill, Veterans Day was moved to the fourth Monday of October. Many states did not agree with this decision and continued to celebrate the holiday on its original date. The first Veterans Day under the new law was observed with much confusion on Oct. 25, 1971.

Finally, on September 20, 1975, President Gerald R. Ford signed a law which returned the annual observance of Veterans Day to its original date of Nov. 11, beginning in 1978. Since then, the Veterans Day holiday has been observed on Nov. 11.

Celebrating the Veterans Day Holiday

If the Nov. 11 holiday falls on a non-workday — Saturday or Sunday — the holiday is observed by the federal government on Monday (if the holiday falls on Sunday) or Friday (if the holiday falls on Saturday). Federal government closings are established by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management. State and local government closings are determined locally, and non- government businesses can close or remain open as they see fit, regardless of federal, state or local government operation determinations.

United States Senate Resolution 143, which was passed on Aug. 4, 2001, designated the week of Nov. 11 through Nov. 17, 2001, as “National Veterans Awareness Week.” The resolution calls for educational efforts directed at elementary and secondary school students concerning the contributions and sacrifices of veterans.

The difference between Veterans Day and Memorial Day

Memorial Day honors servicemembers who died in service to their country or as a result of injuries incurred during battle. Deceased veterans are also remembered on Veterans Day but the day is set aside to thank and honor living veterans who served honorably in the military – in wartime or peacetime.

From the Herald – thank you to our military veterans for your service. We know freedom isn’t free and without your service and sacrifice Americans wouldn’t enjoy the freedoms we do, today. Remembering that and honoring you, today.

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Free entrance, parking at East Bay parks for active and retired military on Veterans Day

Tuesday, November 9th, 2021

The East Bay Regional Park District honors active and retired military members on Veterans Day with free access and parking at the regional parks, including Ardenwood Historic Farm in Fremont. Fee waiver only covers parking and park entry. Fee waiver DOES NOT include dog fees, boat launch or inspection fees, fishing permits, or concessions, such as merry-go-round, train, etc.

The East Bay Regional Park District is the largest regional park system in the nation, comprising 73 parks, 55 miles of shoreline, and over 1,300 miles of trails for hiking, biking, horseback riding, and environmental education. The Park District receives more than 25 million visits annually throughout Alameda and Contra Costa counties in the San Francisco Bay Area.

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Antioch Veterans Day festivities and parade in Rivertown Nov. 11

Tuesday, November 2nd, 2021

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Hoops for Troops Antioch Family Night with Delta Veterans Group at the Warriors Nov. 12

Tuesday, October 26th, 2021

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Stand Down on the Delta planned for this weekend postponed until next June due to COVID-19

Wednesday, September 8th, 2021

Herald file photo.

Semi-annual veterans support event at fairgrounds in Antioch will be replaced by Stand-Up on the Delta 2022

By Gerald “J.R.” Wilson, Jr., CEO & President, Delta Veterans Group Board of Directors

The Delta Veterans Group (DVG) Board of Directors, with deep sadness, had made the decision to postpone Stand Down on the Delta for 2021.  The Board of Directors did not make this decision alone, but with the recommendation and guidance of the Department of Veterans Affairs Health to include our local Medical VA Outpatient Clinic in Martinez, Contra Costa County Health Department as well as our community partners.

The event to support local veterans has been held every other year, during odd-numbered years, at the Contra Costa Event Park (fairgrounds) in Antioch. During even-numbered years, a similar event is held at the Alameda County Fairgrounds in Pleasanton.

The DVG Board has elected to conduct a “Stand-Up on the Delta 2022” and has secured the Contra Costa County Fairgrounds for May 31 through June 8, 2022. The Stand-Up on the Delta will take place June 3-5, 2022, a three-day event.

Tent city at Stand Down on the Delta 2015. Herald file photo.

Although Stand-Up on the Delta will be different than a traditional Stand Down event, it will provide many services that our veterans in the Bay Area need. This event will be opened to all veterans and will have service providers from our four-core areas (Health, Employment, Housing and Education). We still plan on having our “Fishing on the Delta”, Roller Skating, Car Show, Animal Care, Clothing, Legal Aid, Veteran Information Seminars, Veteran Legislative Seminars, Barbers, Bands, DMV, Health Fair, Dental, Vision and other essential services.  The main difference is that there will be no overnight housing and the Stand-Up will be held every day from 8 AM to 6 PM.

The VA, on a national scale, has decided to step away from supporting 52 Stand Downs throughout the country, this year. As we watched the COVID-19 numbers increase daily, including among those who have been vaccinated, we became extremely concerned for the safety of our volunteers and veterans.  Many of our service organizations and individual volunteers have informed us they would be unable to attend due to the increase in COVID-19 cases affecting their safety and the safety of their employees.

Veterans watch a movie at Stand Down on the Delta. Herald file photo.

If you are a volunteer, watch your email in the late winter / early spring of 2022.  We will be adding new time slots to reflect the new dates. The email will let you know when the website is ready for volunteer sign ups.

If you are a vendor or a service provider, we ask that you understand this was not an easy decision to postpone the Stand Down. We hope that you will keep in contact with your coordinator and accept our invitation to join us in June 2022 for “Stand Up on the Delta”.

If you are a veteran that has registered as a “Participant” we ask that you continue to stay safe, and we will continue to work with you towards Stand Up on the Delta (June 3-5, 2022) and your continuing journey.

We plan to hold our Stand Up on the Delta 2022 meetings, beginning in early in 2022, for a successful return to what we do best – providing “a Hand Up, not a Hand-Out” to all of our Veterans.

Hope to see you all safe and healthy in 2022!

Allen Payton contributed to this report.

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