Historical Note:

This comes from Larry Peahl's 53 page compilation of the "Chronology of History of Taft" from 1863 until October 2009:

Nov. 7, 1926 -- St. Mary;s School and Convent dedicated at 5th and Woodrow.

Nov 12, 1926 -- Elks Club dedicate ne lodge

Dec.  -- Taft Job's Daughters Bethel 38 begins

Dec.  -- Big mouse invasion hits Taft area.

Historical Note:
This comes from Larry Peahl's 53 page compilation of the "Chronology of History of Taft" from 1863 until October 2009:
Nov. 7, 1926 -- St. Mary;s School and Convent dedicated at 5th and Woodrow.
Nov 12, 1926 -- Elks Club dedicate ne lodge
Dec.  -- Taft Job's Daughters Bethel 38 begins
Dec.  -- Big mouse invasion hits Taft area.

Remember When

During June 17, 18 and 19, 2011, I was lucky enough to participate in an adventure of a life time. I was selected by the Honors Flight program to fly to Washington, D. C. on all-expense paid get-together for World War II veterans to visit the World War II Memorial on the Mall.  I had applied back in January of 2011.  I was asked to invite someone to go with me as my "Guardian," and I chose my youngest grandson, Ryan Grantham and I must say, Ryan was a wonderful guardian.
We were sent tickets to fly to Washington, D.C. on Southwest Airline out of Los Angeles on a 7:50 flight.  That airline did not charge us any fare for the round trip.
We arrived in Washington that early evening and were met by volunteers form that organization at the Baltimore, Maryland international airport.  There was no mistaking who the volunteers were because they wore bright colored shirts.
There were always wheel chairs available for those who would have difficulty walking longer distances.  That was where my grandson came in to rescue anywhere I needed a longer walk.
I was escorted from the airplane by a volunteer to the terminal.  As I entered the terminal I noticed about 40 people on my right and as we entered the terminal they all started clapping.  What a surprise and what a reception that was. When all of us who were in the Honor Flight program had gathered, we began exchanging greetings and telling each other where we were from,  They were there from all parts of Southern California
We were taken to the street where we boarded a shuttle bus from the Hotel Hilton where we were staying.  We checked into the hotel and had dinner.  After dinner there was a meeting of all 30 or more WWII veterans of our Honor Flight group and our guardians.  The chairman of Honor Flight Group is James McLaughlin from Columbus, Ohio.
The next day we boarded a deluxe bus for what would be a memorable day.  The first stop was at the World War II Monument where we spent two hours. It was very impressive.  There are many things to see a the monument.  That was where we met and talked to Senator Bob Dole and his wife, who is also a senator
We were told that the Senator has given McLaughlint his limo driver's telephone number; so whenever, a group arrives in he city, the limo driver after being called by McLaughlin, notifies Dole.    We met several uniformed servicemen including two ladies in uniform that we enjoyed talking with.  They seemed to have various jobs at Andrews Air Force Base. They were very friendly an would always walk up to us and talk to us.  We exchanged information about our lives in the service.
Our next stop was the Lincoln Memorial.  That is always an impressive memorial to visit.
The Korean Memorial was our next stop on our way to the Viet Nam Wall. I wanted to look up where Sgt. Larry Pierce, a former student and the only only one from Taft and Kern County to be the recipient of the Medal of Honor,  It  was awarded posthumously.
On a previous visit I had seen the grave of the former boxer of our time, Joe Luis,  When I asked the bus driver about that grave, It was obvious that he didn't know.  
It was decided at this time to stay in our very cool air conditioned bus for a tour of Washington as we ate our box lunch.
After the tour we stopped to see the Navy Memorial and then on to Arlington National Cemetery to see the changing ot the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown.  That was a very impressive sight to watch.
From there we visited the Iwo Jima Statue.  They tell us that if you count the number of hands on the statue you will fined an extra hand,  They say that is the hand of God,
This is the spot where we had a group picture taken.
The last stop was at the Air Force Memorial.
After this long day we returned to the hotel.  Table talk was about the day's activities and our service record , The only other event was a dinner where we ate with a group that was from Rochester, New York.
There were several speeches and the reading of a letter from a Rochester elementary school children top the servicemen.
 I received two letters from elementary students from the Rochester schools; so I will close this article by writing what this student wrote to me.

Dear Pete Gianopulos,
    Thank you for all the hard work and time you put into protecting our country and it's freedom.  I hope you have a great time on the Honor Flight.  You deserve it.  You are an inspiration to all of us
and we salute you. Thank you for your service  You are truly a hero.  We all pray for you and thank you.  I hope you have many more years and beautiful memories to come.  Thank you for your service.     
Sincerely,
Adoria Wright

Correction:
    PETE: A CORRECTION ON STORM. IT WAS DON THOMPSON THAT WAS KILLED. HE WAS ON A DESTROYER. DON WAS FROM BELRIDGE.
  Bill, Class of 1943

Reader Comments

From Paul Linder, Maricopa High Grad from Taft, CA
    Pete,
    I hope you have a great trip. I was there about a year ago and the War Memorials were incredible. I know you are a WWII Veteran, but I found the Korean Memorial interesting because of the wall where it appears images are looking out of the granite.
    My dad was also a WWII Veteran. He served in the Navy, in the Philippines as a Landing Craft Pilot. He was awarded the Silver Star for going in and pulling Marines out of a no win situation. He never talked about it much, but through records we found, he was a hero. (Then and to his family through his life) I also had three brothers who served. Two during the Vietnam and one was a career Coast Guard. Proud of all who serve.
    All a good reminder of the sacrifices so many made for us.
    Take care, Paul

From Shirley (Porter) Amey, Class of 1948, from Hacienda Heights.
    Hi Pete - Your story about the Okinawa Typhoon brought back memories. Tom and I were married July 4, 1952 in the Chapel at Tyndale Air Force Base, Panama City, Florida. In September, 1952 Tom was sent to Okinawa as an All Weather Jet Pilot. I was able to join him on Okinawa in August, 1953. We experienced quite a few typhoons. Tom, along with other pilots, had to fly the planes off the base during the typhoons. The wives were left behind. I'm glad I was not on the high seas as you were.
Shirley

From Trice Harvey, Class of 1955, from Bakersfield, CA
    Big Brain: I enjoyed reading your military history! You are one of our heroes who we are so proud to have in our midst!!! Little Brain