Archive for the ‘Military & Veterans’ Category

Antioch Sesquicentennial: Independence Day weekend activities July 2-4 ending with fireworks over the river!

Monday, June 27th, 2022

By Michael Gabrielson, Celebrate Antioch Foundation

This year, Antioch is celebrating 150 years of cityhood! Antioch is Contra Costa’s original city and one of the oldest communities in California. From humble beginnings in 1849 as Smith’s Landing, renaming to Antioch during the July 4, 1851, picnic, to a thriving and bustling city, we are excited to honor our legacy as we mark our Sesquicentennial in 2022. Celebrate Antioch Foundation in partnership with the City of Antioch has planned and been hosting a series of events to pay tribute to our heritage and celebrate our community. Following are the upcoming events for our Sesquicentennial 4th of July Celebration!

July 2nd Concert in The Park 3pm-9pm

Calling out all music enthusiasts. Bring your chairs, blankets and enjoy several bands that will be performing at Williamson Ranch Park that will get you movin’ and groovin’! Blind to Reason 3pm – 4:30pm, Groove Ride 5pm – 6;30pm, and Project 4 Band 7pm – 8:30pm. There will be Food trucks to purchase food or bring your own and make a day of it. This is a free, fun, family friendly event you won’t want to miss!

The U.S. Air Force Band of the Golden West will perform on Sunday in Antioch. The planes will not be with them. Source: USAF BGW Facebook page

July 3rd Military Tribute Concert 3pm-9pm

Please join us in Antioch’s historic downtown Rivertown at our main stage on W. 2nd and E Streets. The U.S. Air Force Band of the Golden West will be headlining a day of great music celebrating our military. This event is free to the community, Food Trucks will be there including Cousins Maine Lobster truck. This is a celebration you won’t want to miss and here is our lineup: 3pm – 4:30pm The Illusions, 5pm – 6:30pm The Grove Room Band, and 7pm – 8:30pm Air Force Band of the Golden West

Veterans’ Color Guard leads off the parade on July 4, 2016. Herald file photo

July 4th Antioch’s Sesquicentennial 4th of July Celebration 11am-10pm

This is a Celebration You won’t Want to Miss! Celebrating 150 Years of Cityhood as one of the Oldest Cities in California! Come Help Us Celebrate our 150th! The Celebration starts with a Pancake Breakfast 8am-10am followed by the Sesquicentennial July 4th Community Parade 11am-12:30pm. Then we have a great entertainment lineup of bands performing on two stages throughout the day, two Food Courts as well as a great selection of wonderful food from our Rivertown restaurants, Craft Vendors and a Huge Kids Zone, where for $10 your little ones can play all day. This is a Fun Family Friendly Event where no alcohol or coolers are allowed.

Antioch fireworks July 4th, 2021. Herald file photos

The evening will finish up with The Sacred Fire Dancers Performing at the Main Stage immediately before the 9:30pm Fireworks Show Over the Delta!

Band Line Up

City Stage
1-2:30pm Vocal Ease
3-4:30pm RJay Haas Band
5-6:30pm Orquestra Latin Heat
7-8:30pm The Groove Doctors

Main Stage
1-2:30pm Anthony Paule Soul Orchestra
3-4:30pm Foreverland
5-6:30pm Lydia Pence and Cold Blood
7-8:30pm Juan Escovedo All-Stars Band
9-9:20pm Sacred Fire Dancers

For more information about these events, or to donate visit If you wish to participate in our parade visit: and to volunteer during our 4th of July Celebration visit:

Allen D. Payton contributed to this report.

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Why we celebrate Memorial Day: A history of the annual national commemoration

Saturday, May 28th, 2022

All Americans are asked to pause at 3:00 p.m. (local time) on the last Monday in May for a ‘‘National Moment of Remembrance”

Antioch to hold commemoration Monday morning

Fredericksburg National Cemetery. Source:

From and

Memorial Day is the national observance on the last Monday in May to honor those who sacrificed their lives while serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.

Memorial Day commemorates the women and men who have died while in military service, and it will be observed this year on May 30, 2022, the last Monday in May as designated by Federal law (36 U.S.C. 116).

Begun in the late 1860’s as Decoration Day, spring flowers were distributed at graves to honor those fallen in the Civil War. By the end of the 19th century, ceremonies were being held in cities across the country. In 1966, the Federal Government declared Waterloo, New York, the official birthplace of Memorial Day. (Source: The Origins of Memorial Day, Department of Veterans Affairs )

According to, “some records show that one of the earliest Memorial Day commemorations was organized by a group of formerly enslaved people in Charleston, South Carolina less than a month after the Confederacy surrendered in 1865. in 1966 the federal government declared Waterloo, New York, the official birthplace of Memorial Day…which first celebrated the day on May 5, 1866…because it hosted an annual, community-wide event, during which businesses closed and residents decorated the graves of soldiers with flowers and flags.”

According to, the origins of this day are difficult to prove “as over two dozen towns and cities lay claim to be the birthplace. Memorial Day was borne out of the Civil War (which ended in 1865) and a desire to honor our dead. On the 5th of May in 1868, General John Logan who was the national commander of the Grand Army of the republic, officially proclaimed it in his General Order No. 11…for the purpose of strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village and hamlet churchyard in the land.’ Because the day wasn’t the anniversary of any particular battle, the general called it, the date of Decoration Day.

On the first Decoration Day, 5,000 participants decorated the graves of 20,000 Union and Confederate soldiers buried at Arlington Cemetery while General James Garfield made a historic speech.

New York was the first state to officially recognize the holiday in 1873. It was recognized by all northern states by 1890. Differently, the South refused to acknowledge the day and honored their dead, on separate days. This went on until after World War I when the holiday changed from honoring just those who died fighting in the Civil War to honoring Americans who died fighting in any war.

With the Congressional passage of the National Holiday Act of 1971 (P.L. 90 – 363), it is now observed on the last Monday in May by almost every state.”

Red Poppies on Memorial Day

Also, according to, “In 1915, inspired by the poem ‘In Flanders Fields,’ Moina Michael replied with her own poem: We cherish too, the Poppy red That grows on fields where valor led, It seems to signal to the skies That blood of heroes never dies.

She then conceived of an idea to wear red poppies on Memorial Day in honor of those who died serving the nation during war. She was the first to wear one and sold poppies to her friends and co-workers with the money going to benefit servicemen in need. See more on the significance of the Red Poppy.

Later a Madam Guerin from France was visiting the United States and learned of this new custom started by Ms. Michael. When she returned to France, she made artificial red poppies to raise money for war orphaned children and widowed women. This tradition spread to other countries. In 1921, the Franco-American Children’s League sold poppies nationally to benefit war orphans of France and Belgium. The League disbanded a year later, and Madam Guerin approached the VFW for help.

Shortly before Memorial Day in 1922 the VFW became the first veterans’ organization to nationally sell poppies. Two years later their ‘Buddy’ Poppy program was selling artificial poppies made by disabled veterans. In 1948 the US Post Office honored Ms. Michael for her role in founding the National Poppy movement by issuing a red 3 cent postage stamp with her likeness on it.”

Public Law 106-579, signed into law December 28, 2000, created the White House Commission on the National Moment of Remembrance, and it designated 3:00 p.m. (local time) on Memorial Day each year as the ‘‘National Moment of Remembrance.” At this time all Americans “To voluntarily and informally observe in their own way a Moment of remembrance and respect, pausing from whatever they are doing for a moment of silence or listening to ‘Taps’.”

Antioch to Hold Annual Memorial Day Commemoration Monday Morning

Memorial Day in Antioch will begin Monday morning at 9:00 am with a processional, followed by a ceremony, then continue with a fundraising lunch at Smith’s Landing Seafood Grill. For details click, here.

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Contra Costa County Fair is back in Antioch May 12-15

Friday, May 6th, 2022

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Memorial Day Commemoration in Antioch May 30

Friday, May 6th, 2022

Fundraiser at Smith’s Landing Seafood Grill

The annual Antioch Memorial Day Commemoration on Monday, May 30, will begin with a processional from the Veterans Memorial at the foot of L Street at 9:00 AM and arrive at the Oak View Memorial Park at 2500 E. 18th Street for the ceremony which begins at 10:00 AM

Following the ceremony, the Delta Veterans Group is honored to partner with Smith’s Landing Seafood Grill again, this Memorial Day. Smith’s Landing will donate 15% of their food and beverage sales that day to DVG.

The owners, Randy and Lynn Tei, are very supportive of our local veterans’ community, and this is just one of the many ways throughout the year they support our veterans. Smith’s Landing is also the main sponsor of the annual Antioch Veteran and Lifetime Veteran of the Year Program.

So, join us at Smith’s Landing and the rest of the veterans’ community on Memorial Day as we remember the sacrifices of our military men and women who gave their lives, and their families, so we wouldn’t have too.

For more information about the fundraiser please click, here.

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Antioch native serves aboard USS Nimitz supercarrier

Friday, March 25th, 2022

Alex Le preps rig for box fan during a general quarters drill on the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz. (CVN 68) (U.S. Navy photo 220323-N-MJ302-1004 by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class David Rowe)

By Allen D. Payton

Alex Le from his Facebook page posted on March 28, 2020.

PACIFIC OCEAN (Mar. 23, 2022) Aviation Maintenance Administrationman Second Class Alex Le, from Antioch, Calif., preps rig for box fan during a general quarters drill on the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68). Nimitz is currently underway conducting routine operations.

According to the Naval Air Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet website the USS Nimitz is a supercarrier and the lead ship of the Nimitz-class nuclear-powered aircraft carriers and is named in honor of Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz. Its mission is to conduct carrier air warfare operations and assist in the planning, control, coordination and integration of air wing squadrons in support of carrier air warfare.

One of the largest warships in the world, she was laid down, launched and commissioned as CVAN 68 but was later re-designated CVN 68 (nuclear-powered multi-mission aircraft carrier) on June 30, 1975 as part of the fleet realignment. Nimitz was homeported at Naval Station Norfolk until 1987, when she was relocated to Naval Station Bremerton in Washington State (now part of Naval Base Kitsap).

Following her Refueling and Complex Overhaul in 2001, her homeport was changed to Naval Air Station North Island in San Diego. The homeport of Nimitz was again moved to Naval Station Everett in Washington State in 2012. In January 2015, Nimitz changed homeport from Everett back to Naval Base Kitsap. Nimitz is now the oldest American aircraft carrier in active service.

USS Nimitz. Source: US Navy

Carrier Air Wing CVW-17 is attached to Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 11 and flagship USS Nimitz (CVN 68) and consists of nine squadrons flying F/A-18C/E/F Super Hornets, EA-18G Growlers, E-2C Hawkeyes, C-2A Greyhounds and MH-60R/S Sea Hawks.

Carrier Air Wing CVW-17 on the Nimitz. Source: US Navy

The carrier air wing’s mission includes the interception and destruction of enemy aircraft and missiles in all-weather conditions to establish and maintain local air superiority; all-weather offensive air-to-surface attacks, detection, localization, and destruction of enemy ships and submarines to establish and maintain local sea control; aerial photographic, sighting, and electronic intelligence for naval and joint operations; airborne early warning service to fleet forces and shore warning nets; airborne electronic countermeasures; in-flight refueling operations to extend the range and the endurance of air wing aircraft, and search and rescue operations.

The air wing is currently attached to USS Nimitz, Strike Group (CSG-11), and is based out of NAS Lemoore in Lemoore, CA. Learn more about the history of CVW-17 dating back to World War II.

Rick Burke, Public Affairs Specialist, Media Outreach Dept., Navy Office of Community Outreach contributed to this report

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Military memorial dedicated at Antioch High honors two fallen graduates

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2022

Staff Sgt. Daniel Scheile and Sgt. John Aragon and the memorial at Antioch High School in their honor. Photos: CC Blue Star Moms. Memorial photo: Allen D. Payton

Died while fighting global war on terrorism in Iraq

By Allen D. Payton

The Contra Costa Blue Star Moms held a ceremony and dedication on Saturday, March 12, of their memorial at Antioch High School to honor Staff Sergeant Daniel R. Scheile and Sergeant John D. Aragon. Both men served in the military and lost their lives fighting during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Schiele, an AHS Class of 1986 graduate, who served in the U.S. Army National Guard, was 37 when he died on Sept. 23, 2005. Aragon, an AHS Class of 2004 graduate, who served in the U.S. Army, was 22 when he died on June 12, 2008.

Staff Sgt Scheile’s daughters Kelli Jillson and Marissa Waffle, and Sgt. Aragon’s father, John Aragon, Sr. unveiled the memorial at Antioch High School on Saturday, March 12, 2022. Photo by Allen D. Payton

“This dedication is long overdue because COVID shut us down two years ago, but COVID will never shut down the Blue Star Moms and we will never forget our Fallen Warriors,” said Loretta Masnada, President of Contra Costa Blue Star Moms and a proud Marine Corps Mom. “The Contra Costa Blue Star Moms wish to thank all who helped make this memorial a reality so those who see it will remember our fallen warriors.”

During the ceremony, held at Antioch High’s Beede Auditorium, prior to the dedication of the memorial, AHS student Sarah Morgan sang the National Anthem and those in attendance heard remarks from Antioch Mayor Lamar Thorpe, Antioch High Principal Louie Rocha, and Antioch School Board President Gary Hack.

In addition, Sergeant First Class (Ret.) Christopher Chebahta of the California Army National Guard shared of his experience while serving as the Platoon Leader for Scheile. Finally, Sgt. First Class Lowell A. Barber, also with the California Army National Guard shared a poignant testimonial of his experience serving with Scheile.

“We were unable to locate anyone who served with SGT Aragon, as he was stationed at Fort Campbell, Kentucky,” Masnada later shared.

Following the unveiling of the memorial by Scheile’s daughters Kelli Jillson and Marissa Waffle, and Aragon’s father, John Aragon, Sr. Taps was performed by AHS student and trumpeter Marissa Conners.

The memorial is located near the entrance to the school’s administration building on the E. 18th Street side.

About Contra Costa Blue Star Moms

Contra Costa Blue Star Moms, California Chapter 20, is a non-partisan, non-political, non-discriminatory organization. We do not support any political candidate,
nor do we endorse any religious organization. The military represents all aspects of America, as does our organization.

It is our mission to provide support for members of the United States Armed Forces and its veterans. We strive to honor our troops, our veterans and our fallen heroes in our words and in our deeds.

Contra Costa Blue Star Moms is a 501(c)(3) non-profit group. All donations are tax deductible. Donations may be made by check payable to “CCBSM” and mailed to P.O. Box 6379, Concord, CA 94524.


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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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