For Hollister residents and veterans, Richard Castro and Dolly DeVasier, contributing their time for their country has been at the forefront of their lives.
Castro, a retired 18-year Marine Corps lieutenant colonel, is a veteran of both Korea and Vietnam. DeVasier, who served as in the Air Force during the Korean War, has been the auxiliary president of the Hollister Veterans of Foreign War Post 9242 for 29 years.
Castro and DeVasier will be contributing to their country once more this weekend: they have both been titled the grand marshals for the 16th Annual San Benito County Veteran’s Day Parade.
And there’s little question that they were the best candidates for the job.
Castro, who was born and raised in San Jose, joined the Marines in 1951.
“I went to Korea in ’52, then got out in ’55 as a buck sergeant,” Castro said. “I got married and joined the Sheriff’s Department in Santa Clara County, but only lasted about a year and a half.”
Castro remained in the Marine Corps reserves until 1960, and thereafter became a truck driver.
He said that it was a divorce from his first wife in 1972 that had him re-enter the Marine Corps reserves.
“The judge said I needed to make more money,” he said. “I said I couldn’t pay child support, wife support, and all the bills with the money I made, so the judge said to get a job. So I joined the reserves.”
Castro was sent to Quantico to become an officer, and it’s there where he became a second lieutenant.
“While I was there, at this officer’s club I had seen this general and I talked to him. I said, I know you from Korea, you were a colonel,” Castro said.
This colonel was looking for an aid and offered Castro the position. Castro stayed in the reserves until 1982, while working his way up to lieutenant colonel.
DeVasier’s own story with the military also began during the Korean War.
Born and raised in Paicines as Francis Rose Vargas, DeVasier attended Hollister schools. She went to nursing school in Oakland after high school, but didn’t stay for long.
“I dropped out at the end of the first year when I heard that the Air Force was looking for 10,000 women to replace men,” DeVasier said.
Her basic training was done at Lackland Air Force base in Texas and she was then stationed at Randolph Field in Texas in 1952 and 1953.
“I was placed in what I already knew—the medical field.”
It was there where she met her husband. Although his death was service-related (she is now a Gold Star widow), she said she doesn’t regret her time serving her country.
“It was the best thing I could have done,” she said.
Both Castro and DeVasier now dedicate their time volunteering for veteran services.
Castro belongs to the Hollister VFW Post 9242, the Hollister American Legion Post 69 and the Italian Men’s Club (IMC) in San Jose. DeVasier joined the VFW Post 9242 in 1980, and has been its Auxiliary President for 29 years.
They assist their veterans groups in making donations, also.
The club donates money to Catholic charities, battered women’s services, Catholic services, and the San Juan Bautista mission for the building of its roof. DeVasier’s Post 9242 Auxiliary donates to the Emmaus House, the homeless task force, and the Senior Community Center.
DeVasier said that the VFW 9242 Auxiliary has now changed from what it used to be; it currently accepts men as members, and is seeking more people to join them.
“We’re not the ladies auxiliary anymore; now we’re just the auxiliary,” said DeVasier.
“All of the members are getting fairly old now and going away, so we do need more people to join us.”
For Castro, he embraces the changes he’s experienced.
Having moved to Hollister in 2010 to be closer to his family after the passing of his wife, and is now remarried.
Since moving to Hollister, he meets his fellow veterans every morning.
“Every Tuesday morning we meet at 9 at Country Rose, and every morning at Jack in the Box—we call it the Jack in the Box Society,” he said. “My time in the military, I enjoyed it. I met a lot of nice, good people in the military, a lot of good friends. A lot of them are passed now, but when I came here to Hollister I made a bunch of new friends here.”