Fairfield, California has been a military town since World War II. Travis Air Force Base was always called the “Gateway to the Pacific.”
For years our fighting men left Travis for Viet Nam, and would return to Travis after their tour was over.
I was assigned to Travis for 13 years in the ‘50s and ‘60s as the supervisor of printing for all of the Pacific. I was in many parades here during those years.
This Memorial Day I was asked to be in the parade through town with my Disabled American Veterans (the DAV), but because of some arthritis in my left knee, I only watched from the street. (That was a first)
My last military parade was at Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, D.C. in May 1971. I was asked by our commander at the Pentagon to take some of our troops for a short parade inside the cemetery with another group that would lay wreaths on the veterans’ graves.
With my commander marching beside me and without his knowledge I halted our group in front of the Unknown Soldiers Tombs. I yelled “Hand salute!” and we held that salute for a while.
Many people were watching us. They all clapped their hands for us. I thought our commander would be upset with me, but he loved it.
My group laid many wreaths that day. We then went back to the Pentagon to work.
I want to thank all veterans for their service.
(Contributing writer Everett Vanover lives in Fairfield, Calif.)