VNVDV in the News

1/15/2021 VNVDV Founding President Norm Mahalich has passed due to COVID pdf

12/12/2020 Vietnam Veterans of Diablo Valley Honors Volunteers

11/11/2020 How struggling veterans groups are managing through the pandemic

Summer 2020 Wheelchair Foundation Changing the World Magazine - Vietnam Veterans go...Back to Vietnam

11/22/2019 Alamo Today article - VNVDV: Going Back - Giving Back

11/11/2018 Newsvideo from KPIX about Veterans Day

10 Jan 2018
Governor's 2018-19 Budget Proposal Supports California Veterans

11 November 2017
Why Those Who Served Get It
“It’s honoring all who serve. Not everyone served in combat. But everyone who served in the Armed Services has served a vital mission in their own right.”
Raymond La Rochelle, Navy pilot and Vietnam veteran

February 3, 2017
Danville museum exhibits wars' letters home

January 25, 2017
VNVDV picked up a donation of 15 brand new Wheelchairs. The donation was cordinated by Department of California DAV's PSC and current DAV NEC for the 16th District, Mike Steinbach. Half of these will go to the local California DAV Chapter 154 in Pittsburg, CA to be distributed to local veterans. The other half will be for the Homeless and Risk Veteran's Stand Down on the Delta on August 11-14, 2017.

March 30, 2016
Governor Brown Issues Proclamation Declaring “Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day”

Spring 2016
Cal Berkeley Alumni Magazine
“Did You Kill Anybody?” I Just Didn’t Say Anything, Because People Didn’t Have a Clue!

December 2015
Danville Today News
Viet Nam Veterans of Diablo Valley: Actively Serving Every Day

October 6, 2015
Stanford News
Stanford military affiliates participate in swim challenge

December 11, 2014
Veterans' organization honors East Bay contributors in Danville
Individuals, groups recognized during gala at Crow Canyon Country Club

November 11, 2014
Pearl Harbor Survivors, recognition and stories of our local Survivors

November 11, 2014
One Veterans Day not enough, some Vietnam soldiers say

Oct 1, 2014
East Bay Stand Down helps veterans get back on their feet

July 1, 2014 50th Anniversary of Vietnam War

Please see the link for Commemorative Partners
​Visit ​ our website at for information on upcoming events and stories posted on current events related to Vietnam Veterans.
Thank you for your support and interest in The United States of America Vietnam War Commemoration.
The United States of America Vietnam War Commemoration

June 23, 2014
Contra Costa veterans group partners with local leaders to house vets, help fight blight

May 17, 2014
Phillips 66 Walk of Honor 2014

May 1, 2014
VNVDV Supports Jobs for Veterans

April 29, 2014
Blue Star Moms Chapter 101 Golf Tournament 2014

February 18, 2014
Vietnam War fatalities rate a picture in time

January 27, 2014
Ron Lowe in the News!

Oct. 12, 2013
Veteran Swim Challenge
YouTube video

Oct. 10, 2013
California Veterans Honored With New License Plate

Governor Jerry Brown has signed Assembly Bill 244, authored by Assemblywoman Susan A. Bonilla (D-Concord), which reestablishes the "Veteran" license plate for Californians who have served in the armed forces...more

January, 8 2014 License Plate Update pdf

Vietnam War Commemoration - 50th Anniversary


8 Aug 2013
Discover Danville Festival
dunk tank

East Bay Veterans Fair on July 15, 2013,
Hilton Hotel on Diamond Blvd in Concord

CalVet Home Loan Program Rate as Low as 3.90%* is
Competitive with Commercial Banking Institutions, 5 June 2013

Walk of Honor Danville Express, 15 May 2013
Videos Jobs for Vets | Hughes Reese VNVDV

VN Veterans Share Stories of the War May 30, 2013
pdf | online

State losing $400M in veterans benefits San Diego Times 16 Feb 2013


Diablo Valley veterans on healing, humanitarian mission to Vietnam 10/29/2012

Veterans Return to Vietnam for charity, reflection 12/25/2012

Memorial Day 2012
Celebrates those Who Died While Serving

East Bay Stand Down for Vets

Eradicate Homelessnes, Enable Possibilities

Veterans Hall to begin approval process
Review board first hurdle for renovation plan

by Geoff Gillette

The $7 million renovation plan for the Veteran's Hall in downtown Danville begins the approval process this week, as it will be considered Thursday at a special meeting of the town's Design Review Board.

The plan had been on the board's agenda for its July 16 meeting, but was pushed back in order to give members more time to examine the plan and formulate questions and concerns.

A ten-member committee began meeting in November to draft a plan that would not only rejuvenate the building but expand it and make it more accessible.

The committee met a dozen times with architects ARG before finally agreeing to a plan that would nearly double the size of the existing 6,600-square-foot structure.

Part of the renovation will include creating a "veterans only" space on the second floor and setting aside space for senior programs at the rear of the building, with a separate entrance from Prospect Avenue .

A large communal space will separate the two uses, which can be utilized by either or rented out by the community for weddings and other events.

The Design Review Board will consider the plan at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, July 23. It is the first step in getting approval. It will also go before the Planning Commission as well as the town council before it can be given final approval.

Danville is putting in $5 million on the project, while veterans groups are fundraising to pay the remaining $2 million of the estimated cost.


2009 Memorial Day

About 1,200 people attended the 2009 Memorial Day event at the All Wars Memorial at Oak Hill Park in Danville.

The annual ceremony was hosted by the VietNam Veterans of Diablo Valley, the Town of Danville and the All Wars Memorial Foundation.

Special guest Abraham Lincoln delivered part of the Gettysburg Address and read a letter that he had written to a mother who had lost five sons in the Civil War.

The keynote speaker was retired Marine Corps Maj. Gen. James Michael Myatt, a native of San Francisco, who gave a personal, heart-warming address, said David Behring of the All Wars Memorial Foundation.

The ceremony also featured "Taps," played by Laurie McGaw, who was first trumpet for the San Francisco Symphony, and the Contra Costa Bagpipes playing "Amazing Grace."


Vietnam Vets Hold Annual Crab Feed 1/25/2008


Our own John Reese Welcome Home Troops in Dublin Dec. 2007

Making the rounds at Blackhawk
Contra Costa Times
Article Launched: 10/14/2007 03:01:24 AM PDT

TRUE TO THEIR SLOGAN, those LPGA girls rocked ... and birdied and bogeyed, too. At last weekend's LPGA tournament at Blackhawk Country Club, I learned more about golf than I'd ever wanted to know. Since I'd missed last year's tournament, I was determined to make it to this one, and had so much fun on Saturday that I spent all day watching on Sunday. With little knowledge of golf, I was more interested in people-watching and browsing through the vendors' offerings on Saturday. I walked right past a woman who had stopped on the walkway to sign autographs for a group of young people. I whispered to the stranger next to me, "Do you know who she is?" He looked at me with amazement and said she was none other than Paula Creamer. He briefly walked along beside me, staring up at Kenneth and Pat Behring's impressive home on the hill. "Do you know who lives in that house?" he asked. "Mmm," I said. "It's the Behrings' -- he's the one that developed Blackhawk." Satisfied with our exchange of information, we parted ways and I sought out my husband Jim, who had found a shady area to watch the play at the 18th hole. There was a lot of waiting ... and waiting, in between shots. Although we didn't know it at the time, we were seeing the two leaders, Suzann Pettersen and Lorie Kane, finish up their day's game. I decided I wanted to get a hat with the LPGA slogan, "These Girls Rock," and drifted off to the club shop, passing more of the golfers who had paused to sign autographs for a line of people. As I approached the club, I saw a crowd clustered near the entrance, lined up to meet Natalie Gulbis, who was sitting at a table in the shop and also signing autographs. After we bought a hat and shirt for me, we walked to the home of Steve and Julie Moore, whose backyard looks out on the fairway of the ninth hole. They were the hosts of a sellout party that raised more than $20,000 for charity, with 205 attendees donating $50 each that was matched by Pacific Rim Recycling (which is owned by Steve and Julie and their 17-year-old daughter Marisa). Steve said the party raised $9,250 for the Wheelchair Foundation, $8,000 for the Blackhawk Women's Scholarship Fund and $3,250 for the Rotary Foundation. "Pacific Rim Recycling's matching contribution to the Wheelchair Foundation is directed toward the Vietnam Veterans of Diablo Valley effort to raise $20,000 to buy a shipping container full of 300 wheelchairs," said Steve. "The veterans plan to accompany the wheelchairs to Vietnam for distribution next summer. The Moores are deeply grateful for the Viet Nam Veterans of Diablo Valley's assistance at the event." The veterans' group helped with all aspects of the party, from security and greeting people at the door to serving food and helping with cleanup. The excitement of the day, with so many spectators and the glorious skills of the athletes, combined with the great weather, brought us back on Sunday for a full day of golf-watching. We met Steve and Nancy Thomas, Blackhawk residents, at their home and walked to the third hole around 11 a.m., where we had a perfect view of the putting. If we went up the hill a short ways, we could see where the drives landed and watch as the players hit onto the green. Susan Rosner, who lives in the Blackhawk area, was also there, and shared her knowledge of the game of golf with me. It was easy to tell who the most popular golfers were. Creamer and Gulbis had large crowds following their play, even though they were not among the leaders on Sunday morning, as did Karrie Webb, defending champion. Lorena Ochoa, Juli Inkster, Kane and Pettersen had even more followers. After the golf on hole three was finished, we walked to the Lakeside Clubhouse to have lunch, where we could watch the play on the 18th hole, which sits on an island in the middle of the lake. Of course, many other people had the same idea, and the terrace was crowded. Seating was, appropriately, European-style, and we were led to a table where another couple, Kelly and Steve Marcotte, were already having lunch. Although we'd intended to go home after lunch, we were once again caught up in the spirit of the occasion, and we ended up following the golfers from the nearby ninth hole all the way to the 18th. We saw the exciting tie finish between Pettersen and Ochoa, but we left before the two tiebreakers, walking out to our car and hustling home to turn on the Golf Channel and watch the tape-delayed highlights and fantastic finish from our family room recliners. The game of golf seems slow, slow, slow -- watching Pettersen duck down, line up, move to the opposite end and repeat the process, then come back and take phantom swings before finally, finally making a putt, was somewhat painful for me. I just wanted her to hit the darn thing. However, her patience paid off big-time, as she finally won, pocketing $165,000 for her week's work. Next week, Rich Wilson, a Blackhawk resident, shares his two-day volunteer experience as an LPGA scorer. Reach Georgia Lambert c/o the Times, P.O. Box 607, Pleasanton, CA 94566 or e-mail


2007 Independence Day Article

Vets on Mission of Peace to Vietnam

February 01, 2007
By Dogen Hannah of Contra Costa Times

Jerry Yahiro wants to return to the Vietnamese highlands where he led a mortar platoon almost 40 years ago.
Rich Vannucci wants to see former battlefields in the country he briefly set foot on as a sailor almost five decades ago.
A former sailor, John Reese, was spurred to return by a mission of peace and good will, instead of war and destruction.
On Friday, these and six other veterans, all Bay Area residents, will travel back to Vietnam, to a country they last saw in war. Their journey will take them not only across an ocean but back in time to a place that, for better or worse, most of them never forgot.
"I'm sure that everybody's a little bit spooked by the thing and antsy about it, but they're all anxious to face their demons, so to speak," said real estate broker and trip organizer Mike Weber of Viet Nam Veterans of Diablo Valley. "There's great motivation to go do this."
That's largely because the trip is more than an opportunity to revisit Vietnam and make peace with the past. During their 13-day trip, the veterans will help hand out 560 wheelchairs, bought in large part with money the veterans raised, to disabled Vietnamese.
During the past two years, the group raised $22,000 to buy wheelchairs. The Danville-based nonprofit Wheelchair Foundation, founded by Blackhawk resident and Seattle Seahawks owner Ken Behring, matched that amount and organized the purchase and distribution of the wheelchairs.
The veterans also raised about $3,500 to distribute to Vietnamese youth shelters and orphanages.  Veterans also plan to bring toiletries and school supplies for the shelters and orphanages. For at least some of the nine veterans who are returning to Vietnam for the first time, the chance to contribute to the well-being of the Vietnamese people overcame their wariness. "I think this trip, being that we're going back doing something good, overwhelms all the bad memories I have," said Yahiro, 62, a Pacific Bell retiree and former Army captain. Last week, as the group's departure date approached, the Danville resident still worried that the trip would resurrect traumatic memories of combat. Yet he was willing to take that chance. "I want to see the country," said Yahiro, who hopes to visit Montagnards, an ethnic minority in Vietnam's highlands and wartime ally of the United States. "I want to meet the people (and) see if there are any demons I have left that need to be put to bed." For Vannucci, who spent about seven weeks in Vietnam in 1959 while serving aboard the aircraft carrier USS Ranger, the trip is a chance to learn more about a war that claimed the lives of some 58,000 U.S. military personnel and wounded about 300,000. The retired Navy master chief was in Vietnam when the first U.S. troops were killed in action. When he returns, the military history buff wants to learn more about how North Vietnam defeated its enemies, including the French forces that fought there before the United States. "I want to see how Gen. Giap was able to bring down the French and essentially bring down the United States," the 69-year-old Castro Valley resident said, referring to North Vietnam's commander in chief. Not everyone in the veterans group wanted to go back to Vietnam. Some feared that the trip would let loose haunting memories that they have managed to bar behind closed doors. Even among those who decided to brave the trip, some were concerned about the reception they would receive, said Weber, who first returned to Vietnam in 2003 on a wheelchair mission and is returning again Friday. Weber reassured the group that Vietnamese, even those directly affected by the war, treat returning veterans without animosity and usually greet them warmly. On Weber's first trip, for instance, a Vietnamese woman dining with him mentioned that American forces killed her father. "We had kind of an awkward moment, and I didn't give her any kind of response to that; I just hushed," said the 58-year-old Blackhawk resident and former Army medic. "Pretty soon, she said: 'Well, that was then and this is now, and let's enjoy the lunch.'" If there was anxiety amid the group of veterans, who will be joined on the trip by five traveling companions and two charity representatives, it didn't show when they met last week at Weber's home to plan for the journey. The mood was jovial as the group nibbled appetizers, sipped drinks and sorted out logistics details such as the group's six-city itinerary, what clothing to pack and how their charitable mission would unfold. Among them was Reese, a former Navy lieutenant junior grade who spent three tours in the war in 1970-74, including serving as a diver who cleared mines. The 58-year-old Walnut Creek resident, whose ailments include post-traumatic stress disorder, was concerned that the trip could aggravate his physical and psychological conditions. But he and his doctors agreed that the peaceful journey would be healing.
"I'm just pleased to go back for a different reason," Reese said. "To go back and do something valuable in a country that we fought in is extremely special."

Veterans hold primary fundraising event Sunday

DANVILLE: Group that hosted East Bay Stand Down relies on revenue from crab feed

By Jeanine Benca

The Viet Nam Veterans of the Diablo Valley are rolling out the welcome mat on Super Bowl Sunday and asking community members to open their pocketbooks.

Tickets are still available for the group's annual crab feed fundraiser, which takes place Sunday at the Veteran's Memorial Building, 400 Front St., Danville. Doors open at 1 p.m.

A large projection television and multiple large-screen televisions will be set up at the hall for guests to watch the Super Bowl. The cost of $40 per person or $375 per 10-person table includes appetizers, beverages, and an Italian pasta and crab dinner with dessert.

Weekend trips, dinners and gift baskets will be raffled off at the event, which also will include a silent auction and an appearance by the Oakland Raiderettes.

"Our expansion (in the community) all depends upon the amount of revenue we generate at this one event," event coordinator John Reese said.

About 100 Vietnam veterans belong to the 15-year-old Viet Nam Veterans of the Diablo Valley. Unlike national organizations such as the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars, the grassroots group is open only to Vietnam combat veterans and relies exclusively on local donations, Reese said.

The crab feed is the group's largest event of the year. Proceeds help pay for some 10,000 American flags distributed at Danville's annual Fourth of July parade.

In 1999, the Viet Nam Veterans of the Diablo Valley began the first East Bay Stand Down at Camp Parks Reserve Forces Training Area in Dublin. The program provides food, clothing, job support and other services to hundreds of homeless veterans.

In November, 16 members of the Diablo veterans group traveled with the Blackhawk-based Wheelchair Foundation to Vietnam, where they helped distribute 560 wheelchairs to disabled Vietnamese children.

"Being there 35 or 40 years ago in war and going back to the same country on a goodwill trip ... it was so moving," said Reese, a Walnut Creek resident who served in the Navy from 1970 to 1974.

Current military personnel and members of the Blue Star Moms military support group will attend Sunday's event. The Raiderettes will sign calendars to be sent to servicemen serving overseas.

Seating is limited to 150 guests, and tickets must be purchased in advance. For more information, call John Reese at: 925-935-4859, e-mail him at or visit


Tom Fitzmaurice's Obituary 2/8/2006



Articles on Memorial Vandalizing 4/30/2005 Valley Times


Contra Costa Times 5/2005


VFW Magazine 5/2005


VFW Magazine 5/2005



Forest Homes to give summer tours with Nathan Greene 6/24/2005 


VN Veterans adopt new mission, San Ramon Valley Times 5/28/2005

Vietnam vets still living with the pain

C.W. Nevius

Tuesday, March 8, 2005

 Reprinted from San Francisco Chronicle Newspaper

couple of times a night, Bill Green gets up to prowl his Alamo home. He keeps the lights out because he wants to be able to check for movement in the backyard.

"You might call it paranoia,'' the former Army infantry officer say. "We call it being on patrol.''

Thirty-seven years ago, two weeks before the Tet Offensive, Green, landed in Vietnam. Twelve months and three Purple Hearts later he left.

Nothing has ever been the same.

"It does change your life unbelievably,'' says Green, now 57. "The thing about it is, you don't realize it. It is only as you grow older that you find little things that will trigger it.''

Green's good friend, Mike Martin, works in sales in Danville. Martin was a naval supply officer in Da Nang in 1969. Today, he's 56, successful, and loves to listen to the oldies on KFRC.

"But every once in a while a song will come up,'' he says, "and I have no idea why, but I start crying.''

Martin and Green are founding members of Viet Nam Veterans of Diablo Valley, ( a group some 150 members strong, who often speak to high schools and colleges about the historical perspective of the Vietnam War. Once, after a talk at Los Positas College in Livermore, psychology Professor Cynthia Ross asked if they knew anyone with post-traumatic stress disorder who could speak to her class.

"Mike just looked at me with this grin,'' says Green, "and he said, 'Yeah, we might know some people.' ''

PTSD is not a new phenomenon, but at a public gathering Thursday in Livermore, the Vietnam generation will offer a warning: PTSD will infect the troops in Iraq, who will need more than a little time on the beach when they get home if they are to get over it.

"Anybody that goes to war is going to be affected in some shape or form, '' Martin says. "We tucked those feelings in our footlockers and 20 years later they came out.''

To be perfectly honest, not everyone was sure that talking publicly about Vietnam was a great idea. It was hard enough to discuss the flashbacks and demons with their families.

Martin made it to the stage at his first public meeting, but couldn't bring himself to speak. And even after they begin, many vets may not finish.

"When some of us get up in front of people to give these talks,'' Martin says, "some of us will literally break. Something flashes in our head and the voice starts to quiver and eyes will well up.''

Green, a retired electrician who was such a tough guy on the job his nickname was "Grumpy,'' admits rarely making it all the way through without a quaver. But the audience is transfixed.

"The first time they came,'' Ross says. "you could hear a pin drop.''

The vets talk about who they were when they left for Vietnam, what they did when they were there, and how they were changed when they returned.

Green, who was "in country'' in the northern mountains, lived on the ragged edge of anxiety for 12 months. There were times, he says, when he went 30 days without a firefight. And there were times when they came every day.

"Did you ever kill someone?'' a high school kid sometimes asks.

"Yes,'' Green replies, matter-of-factly. "Next question.''

In some ways, Green never left Vietnam. When he walks in a park he finds himself checking for places a sniper might be hiding. He doesn't like crowds. When he goes to a restaurant, he makes a point of sitting with his back to the wall. He doesn't want anyone coming up behind him.

Martin, on the other hand, tells students that he never fired his rifle and never unholstered his pistol while he was in Da Nang.

"But every night I was in Vietnam I was either rocketed or mortared,'' he says. "I saw things I wish I'd never seen. I was 22 when I went, 23 when I came back, and it has changed every day of my life.''

Right now the vets are waiting and watching. Both Green and Martin say that when the Sept. 11 terror attacks took place, some in their group "began to lose it a little.'' They understand the stress of battle. And they know troops are coming back from Iraq with loads of baggage.

"Every time a car drives by them for the rest of their life they have to be thinking it is going to blow up,'' Green says.

They empathize, and would like to help, but continue to struggle with their own pain.

But at least today's troops will have a chance to make the transition. After pretending for years that PTSD was not a problem, the military has recognized the need to provide more support.

Of course, it would be hard to provide less than what the Vietnam vets got.

Green left Vietnam in jungle fatigues, landed in Seattle at 5:30 in the morning, was headed to San Francisco by 11, and was ordering a drink at San Francisco International Airport by 2 p.m. -- only to be hassled by the bartender.

He didn't think Green was old enough to drink.

Thursday program 3/10/2005  at  LAS POSITAS COLLEGE – 7PM

Members of Viet Nam Veterans of Diablo Valley will discuss their experiences in the war and with post-traumatic stress disorder at 7 p.m. Thursday in the student center at Los Positas College, 3033 Collier Canyon Road in Livermore. The program is FREE, but there is a $2 parking fee.


VNVDV Members Talk at Cal High July 2004

To:         Vietnam Veterans of Diablo Valley

Subject: FW: Gulick Picture Distinguished Service Medal (DSM)
From:     G.B. Gulick 
Enclosed please find my digital picture from the awards ceremony held December 17th in Lawrenceville.

Colonel Marcia Falca-Dodson, Deputy Adjutant General, NJ Dept. of Military Affairs, presented the Distinguished Service Medals (DSM)  the states highest military award to 101 state residents who are combat veterans of World War II, Korea, Vietnam, and The Persian Gulf War. 

The NJ  Distinguished Service Medal (DSM) was first issued in 1858 for those that distinguished themselves in the NJ Militia. It was reintroduced in 1988 by then Gov . Thomas Kean.  

The state was looking for a way to honor all returning veterans and acknowledge their service.  Since its reauthorization in 1988, more than 10,000 medals have been awarded to combat veterans of New Jersey.  Those recipients whose service was recognized by the Bronze Star, Purple Heart, Air Medal or equivalent medal receive the NJ Distinguished Service Medal (DSM) with an oak leaf cluster....The medal issued to me was with the oak lea cluster .
Would ask if this could run in your Community News Section when time and space permit.  

I'm the son of Gerald and Sue Gulick of Blooming Glen, PA and attended Pennridge High School, Class of 64. 
Thank you,

 Gerald  Brent Gulick 
17 Howe Court 

Pennington, NJ

609 865 0823

Republic of Vietnam 1970 & 1971

Company Commander

E Company (Ranger) 3rd Bde, 9th Inf. Div

F Company (Ranger) 25th Inf Div


VietNam Veterans Auction 2003

SR Valley Times  1/03                                   The Record 5/21/03


January 2001

Danville Resident Receives “People Who Care Award”

Danville resident, Jerry Yahiro, was recently honored with the “People Who Care Award”, by the Contra Costa County Homeless Continuum of Care Board. Supervisor Donna Gerber presented the award at the December 5, 2000, meeting of the CCC Board of Supervisors. Jerry, a Vietnam veteran, received the award for his countless hours of volunteer work as the Director of the East Bay Stand Down 2000 (EBSD00).

The EBSD is a project for displaced, needy and homeless veterans. This four-day event was jointly sponsored by the Viet Nam Veterans of Diablo Valley, of which Jerry is a life member, the Concord Vet Center of the US Department of Veteran Affairs and the Ladies Auxiliary VFW Post 6435, Antioch. The Stand Down was held September 7th through the 10th, at Parks Reserve Forces Training Area (Camp Parks), Dublin.

Yahiro, partnering with Denver Mills, Concord Vet Center Team Leader, worked with nearly 700 other volunteers, numerous corporate donors, community service organizations and the military to make Stand Down a reality. This was the second Stand Down held at Camp Parks.

The EBSD00 provided a temporary respite from the rigors of displacement and homelessness to over 300 veterans and their families. Veterans from throughout the Bay Area participated in this event. During the Stand Down, these veterans received medical and mental health care, food, clothing, counseling for substance abuse and many other services. Qualified veterans were enrolled in shelters and other follow up programs. Others received possible job opportunities.

In addition, three “Homeless Courts”, involving the Superior Courts of Contra Costa, Alameda and San Francisco Counties were convened during EBSD00. “Often times, minor violations that these veterans have is all that keeps them from attempting to take that first step back into a productive life. We’re removing this obstacle.”, Yahiro said. Over 160 veterans took advantage of these Courts.

Yahiro added, “We know that four days are not a lot of time, but our attempt is to offer a “Hand Up, Not A Hand Out”. We also know that Stand Downs have made a difference in these veterans lives.”

The next East Bay Stand Down will be held in 2002.

Congratulations and thank you to Yahiro, the many sponsors and volunteers for making a difference in our community.

Pleasanton vet's banners honor troops
By Chris Metinko

PLEASANTON - Chris Miller knows what it is like to serve the United States and not be welcomed home.

After he returned from Vietnam and got over his less-than-warm welcome, he saw it happen to thousands of other soldiers when they set foot back on American soil.

Miller is determined to not let that happen to those from Pleasanton serving in the country's current battle in the Middle East.

The Pleasanton Realtor is the person responsible for yellow banners hanging from downtown light poles honoring local men and women on active duty.

"I thank Chris so much," said Cynthia Seerley, whose son Adam, a 1998 Amador Valley High graduate and a corporal with the Marines, was in Kuwait when she last heard from him. "This just shows great support for our troops and shows we care.

"It's definitely a counterbalance to all the anti-war protests you see."

Miller's idea originated in 1990, when he did the same things for those serving in Operation Desert Storm. He restarted the program shortly after the U.S. invaded Afghanistan in 2001.

The banners line Main Street downtown, starting at light poles near the Rose Hotel and continuing south to City Hall.

"I just think it's important for us to show that we support those serving this country," said Miller, a retired army lieutenant colonel. "You know, if their loved ones back here take a picture of the banners, send it to them, maybe it brightens up their day over there.

"Maybe they show it to the other soldiers they're with and say, 'Look what they're doing in my hometown.' Whatever helps."

The banners cost about $10.98 each, and Miller is able to get city employees to hang new ones for free every Monday, when the workers make their weekly maintenance rounds downtown.

Miller, a 32-year resident of Pleasanton, estimates there are about 25 banners downtown, and that number will grow, he assumes, as the situation in Iraq goes on.

"I'd like to get the names of every man and woman serving over there on one of these banners," Miller said. "They deserve that."

Two of the names are especially dear to Miller. His sons, Jason and Mike, both loadmasters in the U.S. Air Force, are currently serving. Miller said he isn't sure where Mike is because his location is classified.

"I want the young men and women over there to know that they are being thought of," said Miller, who tries desperately to deflect attention he receives for his banner efforts. "I really do think that's important"

Miller hopes that when those named return home, the banners will be presented to them in community ceremonies.

"That's what I'm hoping for," he said. "That would be nice."

Until then, many in Pleasanton are happy they at least have their loved ones' banners flying on Main Street.

"I just think it's wonderful," said Tracey Buescher, whose husband, Chris, is a Marine lieutenant colonel stationed in Iraq. "I couldn't be in more support of it."

Tracey e-mailed her husband a photo of his streamer in front of Stacey's Cafe downtown but isn't sure if he received it.

"I know he knows about it, and he loves the idea of it," Tracey added. "I'm not sure he's seen it, but I'm sure he would like it."

To get a banner posted for someone from Pleasanton serving in the military, reach Miller at 925-730-1604.

A Place for Solace, Reflection on Combat Experience

War Memorial for Danville site

By Patricia Jacobus
Chronicle Staff Writer

Some days, Vietnam veteran Norm Mahalich retreats from his hectic schedule and spends a moment aching for his 53 friends who died in battle.

When the emotions well up, the real estate broker from Diablo tries to find somewhere to reflect on his seven years of combat. Usually, that quiet place is in his car or on a street bench.

"Sometimes you feel a need to be with your friends," said Mahalich, 56. "But not everybody can just jump on a plane and go to the (Vietnam Veterans Memorial) wall in (Washington) D.C." Commemorative Statue

That is why Mahalich, a former U.S. Marine pilot, helped start a campaign in 1991 to build an All Wars Memorial at Oak Hill Park in Danville.

The memorial, designed by Scott Smith of TERRA Design & Construction, will be at the top of a hill in the park, on land donated by the town of Danville.

It will include a spiraling 200-yard path of granite blocks which will be engraved with the names of dead soldiers. The eight-inch-square blocks will be sold for $100. Units or organizations may purchase larger blocks for $250.

Alongside the path, "liberty" panels that have not yet been designed will depict such things as grieving families or battlefield scenes, said Ron Azarcon, an insurance agent and Vietnam veteran.

At the top of the hill, five benches will overlook the sweeping vista of Mount Diablo.

"This will be called the place for reflection and healing," Azarcon said, "where people can come and think about their loved ones."

Leading up to the reflection area will be a bronze statue, slightly larger than life-size, of a soldier helping a wounded comrade up the hill, Azarcon said.

"It doesn't reflect any particular war; it's for everybody," he said.

The rest of Oak Hill Park now has duck ponds, volleyball courts, and barbecue pits.

The All Wars Memorial is expected to cost $500,000. So far, through golf tournaments and popcorn and granite block sales, the Vietnam Veterans of Diablo Valley has raised $100,000.

An anonymous donor promised to give $250,000 if the group can raise the other half by December 31. news

If all the money is collected, Mahalich and the others hope to have the memorial built by next summer.

"There isn't anything in the Tri-Valley that speaks to not only the soldiers who had to bear the brunt of the war, but also to the wives, children, mothers and fathers who were left behind and had to suffer," said Danville Councilman Michael Shimansky.

Shimansky recommended a memorial park when Mahalich said he wanted to take on a project after organizing a club for Vietnam veterans in 1991.

Mahalich, who has visited the Vietnam Veteran's Memorial in Washington, D.C., was touched when he saw a photo of the moving version of the wall published in The Chronicle in 1984.

At the bottom of the photograph was the name Richard E. Heister and a note with the words "Dad, I miss you."

Heister had been a fellow Marine pilot with Mahalich and had died in action.

It took seven years after he saw the photo, but Mahalich finally tracked down Lance Heister through a persistent check of phone numbers, finally reaching a sister.

When Mahalich contacted Heister in Albuquerque, N.M., he was hungry for information about his father. Ron Jennings, a pilot friend of Mahalich's, flew Heister to the Bay Area and Mahalich met with him in Danville.

"We were drinking beers and smoking cheap cigars and we were on my porch yelling at each other, then I said, 'Hey you want to know what your dad was like?' and I told him to go look in the mirror."

Because his oldest brother had died earlier in the Vietnam War, Richard E. Heister - the sole surviving son - did not have to go to war when he was drafted in 1962.

But he couldn't stand to watch his two best friends, Mahalich and Jennings, march off without him.

Two months later, he was killed.

"Ron and I were at the Officer's Club drinking beers when one of the guys came running in saying Heister went down," Mahalich recalled, his voice strained. "I ran as fast as I could to the colonel's tent and heard the news. I didn't cry. I didn't cry for 30 years."

Mahalich went on to serve seven years in Vietnam. He later worked for a time as a Trans World Airline pilot.

He has kept in touch with Jennings, a Federal Express pilot in Los Angeles.

Over the years, the two old friends have supported each other through painful emotions they had both tried to "stuff away," he said.

But there are times when Mahalich would like to be alone and quietly remember. He knows other veterans, family members and friends of dead soldiers would also like somewhere to go and reflect.

Somewhere like the proposed All Wars Memorial at Oak Hill Park.

"It's not only a place to go up and cry and feel bad," he said. "It's also a place to go to feel good about what we have and what these guys fought for."