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The Annual Veterans Appreciation Dinner


Last updated 12/12/2015 at 1:12pm

Hats off . . . a hero’s passing by. Truth be told, many heroes passed by Thursday evening, 12/03/15, at the West Shores V.F.W. Yep. For the fifth consecutive year, West Shores’ veterans were celebrated in a fun-filled way: The Annual Veterans Appreciation Dinner, which is co-sponsored by the West Shores Lions Club, Fred Guibault, President, and V.F.W. Post 3251, Bob Butler, Post Commander.

In addition to copious amounts of scrumptious food, the 28 vets in attendance (several from WWII, thank you!) received several other surprises, not the least of which was a special little button pin which read “Veterans, Thank you for Your Service.” The pin was attached to a small card on which each veteran’s name, rank and branch of service was inscribed as were the words, “Thank you for our freedom.”

The evening’s program included a Presentation of the Colors by the Imperial County Sheriff’s Explorers Unit of West Shores High School, under the guidance of Sheriff’s Deputy Giovanni Castellon; a special, silent tribute given by the newly formed, 20-member Public Safety Academy of West Shores Middle School, under the direction of Safety Officer, Donna Malloy; and, the seven WSMS Eighth Grade essayists who read their prize-winning pieces about freedom and the meaning of veterans in their lives. These special students are lucky enough to be under the tutelage of WSHS teacher-extraordinaire, Katherine Chou.

Rounding out the program were two terrific speakers, both from NAF EL Centro: CMDCM Wayne Marcus, Command Master Chief, and MA1 Matthew D. Brooks, the base’s Sailor of the Year and its Security Department Leading Petty Officer. Both speakers regaled the crowd with tales of adventures on land and on sea, including deployment on the USS FITZGERALD and the USS RONALD REAGAN.

One particularly poignant moment came when Chief Petty Officer Second Class Brooks related his experiences as part of the Naval Guard Expeditionary Guard Battalion Joint Task Force, Guantanamo Bay in 2007.

The personal take-home for me was Brooks’ recounting the emotions he and other members of his specific group encountered as they conducted Detainee Operations with foreign enemy combatants…he was directly responsible for day-to-day safe and humane treatment of over 450 “global war on terror” detainees. His professionalism and commitment to uphold the intrinsic values of the United States and its Navy helped him through some unspeakably difficult times. We were all moved – especially the youngsters in the audience -- and most especially in light of the still-raw witnessing of the events in San Bernadino.

Chances are very good that there will, in fact, be a Sixth Annual Veterans Appreciation Dinner next year…please, keep your eyes open for info starting in October, 2016.

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