Letter: Assemblyman thanks veterans

Last Tuesday, our nation honored and remembered brave men and women who have served our country in the armed forces or who paid the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom.  We should continue to recognize them year round and more importantly, continue to teach our younger generations about the importance of honoring our veterans from an early age.
My father served in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War. As a son of a veteran, it is a privilege to be able to honor and pay tribute to him and other veterans for their service to our great nation.
Since joining the California State Assembly in 2010, I established a “Veteran of the Year” Award as a special way to honor local veterans who have served their country abroad and continue to serve their local communities here at home. Many continue to serve in leadership roles in local VFW or American Legion Posts to help their fellow veterans and others have assisted families who have tragically lost their children in recent battle.
Dozens of submissions are made each year, but only one person is chosen for each county. This year, four outstanding local veterans were recognized during Veterans Day celebrations for their valor in service of our country and continued dedication to our community.
Luis Alejo, state assemblyman
To read the full letter, including comments on San Benito County’s veteran of the year, go to SanBenitoCountyToday.com.
SANTA CRUZ COUNTY: Bobby Osborn was born in Davenport Oklahoma on June, 1932. He enlisted in the U.S. Army on January 10th 1950 with the 15 Quarter Master Company 1st Cavalry Division. He was one of six brothers who served in the military, three serving in World War II.  Mr. Osborn was awarded five bronze stars for his courageous efforts during combat in five different battles during the Korean War.  Mr. Osborn is a lifelong member of Veteran of Foreign Wars Post 1716 and an honorary life member of the American Legion Post 121.
MONTEREY COUNTY: Sancho J. Manzano was born in the Philippines and enlisted in the United States Army in Honolulu, Hawaii on October 20, 1952. During his time in the military, Sancho Manzano served three tours in Vietnam and two tours in Panama. His assignments included the 25th Infantry Division, 82nd Airborne Division, and Special Forces in Vietnam earning 4 Bronze Stars and a Purple Heart. After being honorably discharged in 1982, Command Sergeant Major Manzano continued to serve our country and community by providing baskets of food to families of local veterans and active personnel.
SANTA CLARA COUNTY: Lawson Sakai was born in Los Angeles on Oct. 27, 1923. The day after the attack on Pearl Harbor, the young man attempted to enlist in the U.S. Army but he was rejected because the American government classified him as an “enemy alien” because of his Japanese ancestry. With the internment of more than 127,000 American citizens during early 1942, Sakai’s family evacuated to Colorado. In March 1943 the American military, in desperate need of fighting men, opened up enlistment to Japanese Americans to serve in a segregated unit. Immediately, Sakai volunteered for the 442nd Regimental Combat Team and fought in battles that included the rescue of the Texas “Lost Battalion”.  Wounded four times, he was awarded two Bronze Star medals, a Purple Heart and recently the Congressional Gold Medal, the nation’s highest civilian award.
SAN BENITO COUNTY: Technical Sergeant Sonora Vasquez was born in Salinas and joined the United States Air Force after graduating high school in 1999.  She was deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and has been highly successful with numerous assignments throughout the world (Korea, Italy, Saudi Arabia, Japan). In 2011, Sergeant Vasquez arrived at the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center in Presidio of Monterey, California where she is currently the Assistant Flight Chief of Military Training Flight for the 314th Training Squadron. She is responsible for the supervision of Military Training Leaders as well as organizing, training and mentoring more than 800 non-prior service Airmen.
These men and women are part of our community and they are our neighbors, friends, and family who have remarkable life stories of courage and bravery. We have all benefited, in one way or another, from their sacrifice. With humility, they continue to serve our country, and for that they deserve our recognition and applause.
Luis Alejo, 20th District assemblyman

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