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Remembering Gunny Sproul

Friday, August 31st, 2018

Gunnery Sergeant, Robert L. Sproul, a Marine’s Marine

YUCAIPA, CA – Every so often I reach up to the top shelf of my bookcase and pull out my Marine Corps graduation book. There were 72 of us in Platoon 1061 of the First Battalion. The pages are filled with pictures of smoothed faced men – boys really, ages 18, 19, 20 some as old as 23.

The pages show pictures of us climbing ropes, jumping across water ponds suspended in midair with our M14 rifles thrust out in front of us, on the parade deck marching to the deep-throated commands of a drill instructor, standing at attention during inspection, and on Sunday afternoon’s off, writing homesick letters to our worried mothers.

Gunnery Sergeant Robert L. Sproul is seated in the middle behind the Platoon 1061 banner.

Platoon 1061 was all gung ho in boot camp at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego in the summer of 1967. We felt destined to go to “Nam” and win the war against communism.

And we wanted Gunnery Sergeant Robert L. Sproul to lead us.

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Bill Hopeman put Hingham, Wisc. on the fastpitch map

Thursday, May 18th, 2017

Since the late 1930s, hundreds of softball players have played fastpitch at the Hingham ballfields. Courtesy Photo

“I have skipped class reunions and some marriages because of ball. It was probably wrong, but nothing was more important than playing ball. I just loved the game.” – Bill Hopeman

HINGHAM, Wisc. – When he was six years old, Bill Hopeman got his first taste of fastpitch softball on Hingham’s grade school playground.

Swinging a bat, catching and throwing a softball soon became a passion. His favorite position?

“Anywhere they would let me play,” said Hopeman, who was younger than many of the school kids back in the early 1950s. “But mostly I played third base, shortstop and some first base.”

But over the ensuing years, “let me play,” became a plea of sorts to “please pitch for us,” as Hopeman switched from infielder to pitcher. An outstanding one at that – who many claim the best to hurl a softball in the Hingham fastpitch league.

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Veterans can get physicals at Loma Linda welcome event

Tuesday, February 19th, 2013

Our veterans followed their marching orders for us, now lets march for them.

LOMA LINDA, CALIF – The VA Loma Linda Healthcare System will host a “Welcome Home” event at its flagship facility, the Jerry L. Pettis Memorial Veterans Medical Center, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 23.

During the event, the VA will offer same-day registration and physical examinations to veterans not yet enrolled in VA health care.

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There’s always been that guilt

Monday, July 12th, 2010

KENYON, MN – I remember the look on my mother’s face when I broke the news.

“Mom, I signed up to join the Marines,” I blurted out somehow knowing that I’d be met with the stunned look of a terrified mother.

It was August 1967. The Vietnam War raged. Every night, the evening news broadcast the numbers to an increasingly skeptical American public…10 Marines killed in hostile action…five Army Rangers died while on patrol…

And now Marie Otto’s son had signed up to join the Marine Corps.

“When do you leave?” mom asked softly, her face ashen as if the blood had suddenly drained to her feet. It’s as if she already feared the worse for her eldest son, just 18.

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Visit the Vietnam Memorial Moving Wall at Auto Club Speedway

Thursday, July 1st, 2010

Photos By BOB OTTO

ONTARIO, CA – The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Moving Wall came to the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana on Thursday, July 1. About 50 veterans, many from the Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 47, along with the ROTC Air Force Cadets of Yucaipa and Arlington high schools assembled 74 panels that comprise 58,195 names of service men and women who lost their lives in the Vietnam War.

The Moving Wall will be at the Speedway from July 1-5 and is free to the public. An Opening Ceremony will be held Saturday at 10 a.m. And a Final Roll Call Ceremony will take place on Sunday, July 4, at 6 p.m.

The Auto Club Speedway is located on Cherry Avenue in Fontana, off the Interstate 10 Freeway. Exit at Cherry, head north and the Speedway will be on your left.

Yucaipa Valley’s fallen remembered on Memorial Day

Monday, May 31st, 2010

About 300 attended the Memorial Day Service at Desert Lawn Memorial Park in Calimesa.
Photos By BOB OTTO

“I feel fortunate to be alive while others have died,” – Ray Duncan, Marine Corps veteran

CALIMESA, CA – Some chose to spend Memorial Day barbequing in the back yard. Some spent the day at the beach. And some spent the day lounging in front of the television watching a baseball game.

But about 300 grateful and patriotic Calimesa and Yucaipa residents chose instead to spend about an hour at Desert Lawn Memorial Park for a Memorial Day Service to honor America’s veterans who died on the battlefield to safeguard our country’s freedoms.

Ray Duncan, 70, spent 10 years in the Marine Corps. He served in Korea and he served a tour of duty in Vietnam. He says he’s one of the lucky ones, who returned home to live the good life in Yucaipa.

“I feel fortunate to be alive while others have died,” Duncan said. And it irritates Duncan that despite the ultimate sacrifice American service men and women have made to protect America’s freedoms, there was just a modest turnout for the memorial service.

“It makes me mad at those that don’t appreciate what some gave for our country,” he said.

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I wish I could shake their hands and thank them

Sunday, May 30th, 2010

Volunteers and loved ones placed flags and bouquets of flowers next to the gravestones of United States military veterans during a flag planting ceremony at Desert Lawn Funeral Home and Memorial Park on Sunday.
Photos By BOB OTTO

CALIMESA, CA – I’ve never met Kenneth S. Adams, Wendell D. Crandall, Jr., Edwin George Cowan, or James F. Kunze, Jr.

But I wish I could. I’d like to shake their hands and thank them.

All four men served in the United States Armed Forces. Adams in the Army, Crandall the Navy, Cowan in the Army Air Forces, and Kunze as a United States Marine.

On Sunday, about 75 volunteers gathered at Desert Lawn Funeral Home and Memorial Park. They came, young and old, from Yucaipa American Legion Post 426, VFW Post 7347, and a local Boy Scout troop, to plant flags at the grave sites of the veterans buried at Desert Lawn. Every veteran receives a flag.

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See Photos of Yucaipa Veteran’s Day Ceremony

Wednesday, November 11th, 2009

YUCAIPA, CA – About 500 patriotic Americans gathered at Yucaipa Community Park to honor America’s veterans during Veteran’s Day Ceremonies, Wednesday.

To see the ceremony in photos go to the following link:

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Yucaipa and Calimesa honors veterans

Wednesday, November 11th, 2009

YUCAIPA, CA – About a half dozen veterans, many in wheel chairs, took their rightful place of honor near the amphitheater stage at Yucaipa Community Park for Veteran’s Day ceremonies on Wednesday.

They served in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam. A ceremony could have been held in the comfort of Braswell’s Yucaipa Valley Convalescent Home, which is home for all of them now in their elderly years.

But they insisted upon coming to the Yucaipa Veteran’s Day Ceremony instead.

“This is big, an important occasion for them,” said Linda Nagai, Activities Director at Braswell’s.

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Girding for an uphill battle for recruits

Tuesday, November 10th, 2009

Obesity, poor education make many younger people unfit for military
By Christian Davenport and Emma Brown
Washington Post Staff Writer

It’s tough enough selling military service to teenagers who might not be so keen on getting their heads shaved or buy the whole “we do more by 9 a.m.” line. And the fact that enlisting today could very well mean a visit to the front lines doesn’t help, either. Click to continue