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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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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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