Tag Archives: veterans day

War Memorial Celebrates 50 Years with Remodel

Every year there is a ceremony held on Veterans Day at the war Memorial in McCambridge Park. This year was a little more special though because in 2019 the Burbank war Memorial celebrated 50 years and with that 50 year anniversary came a facelift to the facility that cost more than $200,000.

(Photo by Ross A Benson)

This year, the public was invited to a pre-ceremony continental breakfast that was put on by Whole Foods and the Cusumano Real Estate Group, who also sponsored the flyover of the Condor Squadron. The Burbank Community Band was also on hand to perform both before and during the ceremony.

Mickey DePalo of the Burbank veterans committee was one of the guiding forces behind the renovation and every year takes great pride in the ceremonies at the facility as he welcomed the community to the celebration.

(Photo by Ross A Benson)

The Burbank Police Department’s honor guard along with Boy Scout Troop 219 performed the presentation of colors. All the members of the Police Department were also veterans.

Lauren Duncanson, a member of the Burroughs Powerhouse Choir performed the National Anthem while the flag salute was handled by Paul McKenna Jr. An invocation was given by David Christ.

Burbank’s Vice Mayor, Sharon Springer, filled in for Mayor Emily Gabel-Luddy to do the introductions on the day. Both of Burbank’s Congressman, Adam Schiff, and Brad Sherman, were on hand to give remarks. Congressman Schiff talked about the veterans overseas and fighting especially in Afghanistan while Congressman Sherman’s message was about getting resources and help to veterans. Both flew across the country for the ceremony and were due back in Washington DC by Tuesday.

Anthony Portantino, the state senator represent Burbank along with California State Assembly Member Laura Friedman, were also both on hand to address the large crowd.

(Photo by Ross A Benson)

DePalo, former Burbank Mayor Gary Bric, and Beverly McLeod all spoke about the War Memorials re-dedication after which a ribbon-cutting ceremony was held with all the dignitaries present along with members of the Burbank Veterans Committee.

Lieut. Col. Worley also gave a POW/MIA remembrance presentation which was very powerful. A fixture at the event for many years, Anjanette McFarlin., played Amazing Grace on the bagpipes rule for possibly the last time as she will be leaving the area.

At the end of the day, DePalo thanked many for all their hard work and dedication to refurbish the war Memorial which is due to McCambridge Park now for 50 years. It is a strong piece of Burbank’s pride where history remembers all those who gave their lives to protect this country. He encouraged everybody to stop by and take a look at this source of pride for all.

Renovated War Memorial Ready for Veterans Day Unveiling

The McCambridge Park War Memorial has recently completed a facelift as well as a complete remodel and it’s all ready for this year’s Veterans Day Ceremonies.

( Photo by Ross A Benson)

During the last couple of months, construction crews have been hard at work tearing apart the memorial and adding plenty of new items that will be revealed during this year’s Veterans Day Ceremonies.

This past week the final touches have been added the plaques have been re-bronzed secured in new locations, flag poles have been installed for every branch of the military.

This year’s dedication and Veterans Day Ceremonies will include a Continental Breakfast served while The Burbank Community Band will provide a concert prior to the 11 o’clock ceremony. The breakfast is courtesy of Cusumano Development and Whole Foods and starts at 10:15 am. 

There will be added flybys by the Air Squadron and additional presentations are planned.


Burbank Veterans Honored During Several Events

The Burbank Elks Lodge #1497 held their Salute to Our Veterans Dinner Wednesday evening, November 7, with the largest crowd they have ever had for this type of event. More than 200 people came out to honor veterans, including many who were bused in from across the San Fernando Valley for the meal and party.

(Photo by Ross A Benson)

Burbank Mayor Emily Gabel-Luddy was on hand to thank the veterans and present Burbank resident Jimmy Weldon with a certificate.

Weldon served in World War II with the 120th Engineer Combat Battalion in Europe where he helped construct pontoon bridges and cleared minefields. Weldon became a television personality and worked in Dallas, Texas, in the 1950s.

Weldon is also known as the voice of “Yakky Doodle” in the Yogi Bear animated series. At 95, Weldon has been a much sought-after motivational speaker. He also authored Go Get ‘Em, Tiger, which has sold nearly 30,000 copies.

The program also enjoyed entertainment from Andrew Sisters tribute group of Bobbi Stamm, Chera Holland and Mary Lou Metzer.

Burbank Boy Scout Troop 210 served dinner to the guests and presented colors.

(Photo by Ross A Benson)

On Friday evening, November 9, The Heights of Burbank, a senior living facility located on Willow Street, honored several of their veteran residents with a small party. Gabel-Luddy, Vice Mayor Sharon Springer and Councilman Bob Frutos were on hand to thank the serviceman personally.


(Photo by Ross A Benson)

On Monday, November 12, the City held their Veterans Day Ceremony at the McCambridge Park War Memorial. Remarks from Congressman Adam Schiff, Anthony Portantino and Laura Friedman were heard along with comments from Gabel-Luddy.

The ceremony this year included the voice of Hedi-Marie Ferren singing the national anthem along with a piece she wrote honoring soldiers called “Eyes of a Solder.” The Burbank Community Band was on hand to play the Armed Forces Medley.

The Military Service Recognition Program honored Burbank residents Christina Reuter of the United States Air Force, Joseph Reuter the United States Air National Guard and John Paul Grasse of the United States Army as they have served and now returned back home to Burbank.

Photo Gallery from these events: ( Click on any picture to see it larger)




Burbank Veterans Day Ceremony Honors All Who Served

The City of Burbank’s Veterans Day Ceremony held Friday, November 10, at the McCambridge Park War Memorial brought out veterans from every branch of the military.

The Condor Squadron started off the event with an impressive flyover and the Burbank Community Band entertained those in attendance. Highlights of the day included a rendition of “America The Beautiful” by John Burroughs High School senior Grace Sessinghaus and the national anthem by a Kindergarten class from St. Robert Bellarmine Elementary School.

Elected officials made comments and reminded those in attendance of the significance of Veterans Day. All veterans in attendance were honored and recognized for their service.

Here are some photos as seen through the lens of myBurbank Chief Photographer Ross A. Benson.

Click on the images to see a larger view.


Home Depot Helps Renovate Burbank Veterans of Foreign Wars Post

On Thursday, October 26th, volunteers from the Home Depot set out to give Burbank’s Veterans of Foreign Wars post a complete makeover. The facility, located at 1006 W. Magnolia Blvd., saw over 70 volunteers on hand to help with the renovations.

(Photo by © Ross A. Benson)

Juan Guillen, Current Captain of Burbank’s VFW Post, said it was a “godsend” that Home Depot chose Burbank’s VFW Post as a recipient of the large grant. Guillen went on to say that because of Home Depot’s team of volunteers and their expertise, “they did in one day what would have taken me at least another year or more to do.”

Home Depot granted the project a $10,000 grant. The effort was a part of the Home Depot’s “Celebration of Service” campaign, which is a foundation designed to help veterans and their families. The campaign runs every year, with the goal of having provided over a quarter of a billion dollars to veteran-related projects by the year 2020.

(Photo by © Ross A. Benson)

Among the many improvements is a new paint job in the kitchen, front of the building, behind the building, and a new water heater. However, the biggest improvement was the roof. The roof now has a special coating to it, allowing the coating to flex sunlight, which will, in turn, reduce the monthly utility bill for the property.

All of this good news is a far cry from Guillen’s early days as a Post Commander. Before taking over, the Burbank VFW building was scheduled to remain open until February of this year. Since taking over, not only has Guillen and his group outlived their expiration date, but he has since increased the number of regular visitors by making the Post open to non-combat veterans too.

(Photo by © Ross A. Benson)

Still, the journey to bring the Burbank VFW Post from the brink of closure has not been a smooth one. The experience provided many learning opportunities and lessons in management. Guillen has also championed the Post’s transition into the modern age by becoming present on social media. However, without some of the support, Guillen has received, none of this would be possible.

Local groups, such as the Rotary Club and Cowboy Social Club, have lent a helping hand in maintaining the Burbank VFW Post. While local group support is pivotal to the Post’s well-being, Guillen aims to increase community support. “I want [the Post] to be a welcoming environment to everyone in the community,” Guillen said. In an effort to meet his goals, charities are able to host their events at the Post for free.

If you’re interested in helping Burbank’s VFW Post, or seeing the result of a “military-style cleaning” in person, Guillen invites members of the community to walk in and discuss a Booster Program he is currently working on. Furthermore, on November 10th, the community is invited to celebrate Veteran’s Day at the Post. All are welcomed to join and food will present at the event. Then, later that night, the community is invited to celebrate the Marine Corps birthday at 8 PM. A taco man will be present at the later event.


Burbank Veterans Ceremony Give Community a Chance to Say Thanks

(Photo by © Ross A. Benson)

(Photo by © Ross A. Benson)

At 11:00 each year on the 11th day of the 11th month, you can count on the Condor squad flying over McCambridge Park War Memorial in Burbank.

(Photo by © Ross A. Benson)

(Photo by © Ross A. Benson)

You can also count on the Burbank Veterans Committee headed up by Chairman Mickey DePalo, a longtime Burbank employee who is now only retired from his job, not his obligation to help Burbank Veterans as well as those currently serving.

Besides MC’ing the ceremony, DePalo also solicits donations from the community including a generous donation from the Cusumano family that allows the committee to pay the Condor Squad for each year’s flyover.

Most of the ceremony does not change from year to year.

There is the National Anthem sung by Gino Guadio and Pat Walmisley is a mainstay with her rendition of God Bless America.

(Photo by © Ross A. Benson)

(Photo by © Ross A. Benson)

This year Mayor Bob Frutos recogined Sergeant Joseph Nuñez, who has just completed his United Stated Marine Corps service and was presented his banner that had been flying in downtown Burbank by the Mayor. Nuñez is already started on his new life as the Burroughs graduate is on his way to becoming a Burbank Police Officer.

Wednesday’s Guest Speaker was retired U. S. Army Major General Mark MacCarley, who has been in involved in Burbank for many years. He spoke of the assimilation of Veterans back into society.

(Photo by © Ross A. Benson)

(Photo by © Ross A. Benson)

Burbank Congressman Adam Schiff was once again on hand to address the listeners as well as Assembleman Mike Gatto and State Senator Carol Liu. Also like in most other years, Congressman Brad Sherman was a no show.

Schiff, one of the leading Congressman, works hard every year to make it to the Burbank ceremony and with his time serving on the Intellegence Commission, always has an interesting story. Gatto shared about his father, who was tragically murdered two years ago in his home.

(Photo by © Ross A. Benson)

(Photo by © Ross A. Benson)

As always, Taps was played by the Burbank Community Band and brought some misty eyes to many in attendance.

Depalo keeps the ceremony close to the cuff every year. He knows it not about the ceremony, but the people they honor each year. No doubt they have already began on their preparations for the 2016 ceremony.

Burbank Celebrates Veteran’s Day

(Photo by Ross A. Benson)

(Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Veteran’s Day brings communities together to honor and celebrate those who have served, and those currently serving in the armed forces of the United States.  Burbank honored its veterans on Tuesday with a ceremony at McCambridge Park, including veterans representing conflicts ranging from World War II to the War Against Terror.

(Photo by Ross A. Benson)

(Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Attendees were greeted with patriotic music performed by the Burbank Community Band, American Flags, and buntings, all in the shadow of the Burbank’s War Memorial Eternal Flame.  Adorned with tributes to warriors who have given their lives in service to their country, when near the memorial veterans have the third sense they are among family.

The formal program followed the annual Veteran’s Day script, highlighted by a presentation of gratitude to several of Burbank’s recently separated Marines, Airmen, Soldiers, and Sailors.  Politicians gave their remarks, with a couple “shout outs” to local companies donating funds or support for the ceremony.

(Photo by Ross A. Benson)

(Photo by Ross A. Benson)

And in the background veterans quietly talked with each other, maybe sharing stories about place they’d been, maybe simply indulging in the brotherhood of those who have raised their hand in a solemn oath to defend the constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic.  One discussion about Okinawa, another about North Africa, and others talked about Korea and Vietnam.

Dekin Jones, an Army veteran who served in Korea acknowledged the Marines who “saved their butts,” Lt. Col. Durhan talked about when with the 101st Airborne he walked into an Ambush near Firebase Ross, and SSgt John Hollis recalled his tours in the Philippines, Okinawa, and mainland Japan.

(Photo by Ross A. Benson)

(Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Guest Speaker Mike L. Kufchak, retired Sergeant Major, USMC, provided guests and fellow veterans with a moving account of heroism, of brotherhood, and commitment.  No stranger to war and conflict, Kufchack has devoted himself to assisting fellow veterans with the sometimes difficult transition from military to civilian life.  Kufchack was given the event’s ceremonial flag as a token of Burbank’s appreciation.

Veterans of all services share a common bond.  From the oath of enlistment, to meeting 100 scared kids from around the country standing on yellow footprints at the gateway to basic training, through training, up to the point when deployed for service – whether routine or conflict.  The brotherhood even transcends nationalities, as British, Canadian, American, Korean, Philippine, and veterans of all other nations at some point put aside national differences and simply acknowledge their commonalities as veterans. 

Some veterans dating to World War II were simply too tired to enjoy the event, but needed to be there regardless.  The National World War II Museum estimates of the 16 million who served in World War II, only about 1 million are still alive, and veterans of the war are dying at the rate of nearly 555 each day.

(Photo by Ross A. Benson)

(Photo by Ross A. Benson)

A bright spot of the event was a charming rendition of “God Bless the USA” by the St. Robert Bellarmine Catholic Elementary School Kindergarten class.  The children represented every possible racial background, and sang their hearts out as a team.  Every veteran no doubt said a small prayer these wonderful children would never need to be faced with service in the armed forces. Rather, each veteran hopeful by the time the children reach adulthood, that perhaps the world will be a safe, peaceful place.

As a mournful, echoing call of “Taps” drifted over the park, veterans shook hands one more time, said their goodbyes, and Burbank went on with its business for another year.  The Eternal Flame continues to burn, some banners of Burbankers who served taken down from their spots on 3rd Avenue, new banners prepared for their mounts, and the citizens will go about their lives confident they have done their job recognizing veterans.

Veterians Day 2014-8

(Photo by Ross A. Benson)

(Photo by Ross A. Benson)

(Photo by Ross A. Benson)

(Photo by Ross A. Benson)

(Photo by Ross A. Benson)

(Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Burbank Once Again Honors Veterans

(Photo by Ross A. Benson)

The City of Burbank and the Veteran’s Committee once again sponsored the annual Veteran’s Day Ceremony at McCambridge Park.

The day featured speakers and presentations to some World War II survivors who also received a flag flown over the capital by newly re-elected Congressman Adam Schiff.

Members of the St. Roberts Elementary School also participated in the National Anthem and the Burbank Community Band once again played for the large crowd.

(Photo by Ross A. Benson)

(Photo by Ross A. Benson)

(Photo by Ross A. Benson)

A Veterans Day Tribute

Larry Maxam Avenue 

By Dick Moskun 

Last month I went to see the Blue Angels perform at the Marine Air Base, Miramar near San Diego. A very young Lance Corporal directed me to park my car (to my pleasant surprise) on “MAXAM Avenue.”

Larry Maxam Ave.

Maxam Avenue street sign at Miramar Marine Corps Air Station. (Photo by Dick Moskun)

For those unfamiliar with military custom; many streets on military bases are named for those who have received the Medal of Honor, and “MAXAM Avenue”, celebrates Marine Corporal Larry L. Maxam, the City of Burbank’s own “Medal of Honor “recipient.

Well the air show was exciting, and the Blue Angels were as spectacular as ever. But on the way back to my car I began thinking of that line in the Marine Corps Hymn, the streets of Heaven are guarded by the United States Marines, and then I thought …. and one of our own from the City of Burbank. It was a very good day.

Larry L. Maxam

Cpl. Larry Maxam

Larry Maxam was born in Glendale, but grew up in Burbank. He attended Emerson Elementary, John Muir Junior High School, and Burbank High. In 1965 he became a U. S. Marine.

In 2010 our City and State officials dedicated Pacific Park in his honor, renaming it Larrry L. Maxam Park. Samantha Morales (a John Muir Middle School student) wrote the following as part of the dedication ceremony, “I think that Corporal Larry L. Maxam exceeded the expectation of being in the United States Marine Corps because he went above and beyond what they told him to do.” Samantha is
right of course. The Congressional Medal of Honor is the highest award our country can give for valor, and it’s not given lightly.

Here is the official commendation that President Richard Nixon read when Cpl. Maxam was posthumously presented with the Medal of Honor:

“For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as a Fire Team Leader with Company D, First Battalion, Fourth Marines, Third Marine Division in the Republic of Vietnam. On 2 February 1968, the Cam Lo District Headquarters came under extremely heavy rocket, artillery, mortar, and recoilless rifle fire from a numerically superior enemy force, destroying a portion of the defensive perimenter. Corporal Maxam, observed the enemy massing for an assault into the compound across the remaining defensive wire, instructed his Assistant Fire Team Leader to take charge of the fire team, and unhesitatingly proceeded to the weakened section of the perimenter. Completely exposed to the concentrated enemy fire, he sustained multiple fragmantation wounds from exploding grenades as he ran to an abandoned machine gun and commenced to deliver effective fire on the advancing enemy. As the enemy directed maximum fire power against the determined Marine, Corporal Maxam’s position received a direct hit from a rocket propelled grenade, knocking him backwards and inflicting severe fragmentation wounds to his face and right eye. Although momentarily stunned and in intense pain, Corporal Maxam courageously resumed his firing position and subsquently was struck again by small arms fire. With resolute determination, he gallantly continued to deliver intense machine gun fire, causing the enemy to retreat through the defensive wire to positions of cover. In a desperate attempt to silence his weapon, the North Vietnamese threw hand grenades and directed recoilless rifle fire against him inflicting two additional wounds. Too weak to reload his machine gun, Corporal Maxam fell to a prone position and valiantly continued to deliver effective fire with his rifle. After one and a half hours, during which he was hit repeatedly by fragments from exploding grenades and concentrated small arms fire, he succumbed to his wounds, having successfully defended nearly one half of the perimeter single-handedly. Corporal Maxam’s aggressive fighting spirit, inspiring valor and selfless devotion to duty reflected great credit upon himself and the Marine Corps and upheld the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.”

In addition to the Medal of Honor, Maxam received  the Purple Heart, the Presidential Unit Citation, the National Defense Service Medal, the Vietnam Service Medal with two bronze stars, the Vietnamese Gallantry Cross with Palm, the Military Merit Medal (Vietnamese), and the Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal.

You can go to this park on Pacific Avenue, bring your family and friends, enjoy a picnic or participate in a ball game. Either way, I’m pretty sure Cpl. Maxam will be happy that you did so, and grateful for the visit. By the way if you get a chance to visit the Marine Air Base Miramar; park on his street.

Editor’s Note:

Burbank resident Dick Moskun served in the U.S. Marine Corps in Vietnam.  He was a Huey helicopter gunship crew chief with VMO-3 in 1967.  He and his crew were responsible for the area between DaNang and the DMZ (Demilitarized Zone).  His squadron was based a Phu Bui across the Perfume River from the city of Hue.  It is the same area that Larry Maxam served in. His helicopter crew provided gunfire support for our troops on the ground, escorted the insertion and extraction of Marines, and provided medivacs for the wounded.

A Day for Burbank to Remember Veterans

Veterans have a different view of the world.  Whether the vet has served in the infantry, on board ship, in a combat aircraft, in dark subterranean missile silos on nuclear alert, or in a support role ensuring the readiness of front line forces, the vet sees the world with different eyes than others.

On Friday, Under the eternal flame of the McCambridge Park War Memorial, Burbank residents and leaders gathered to recognize veterans for their service to the country, and contributions to ensuring peace throughout the world.

The ceremony started with a flyover by the Condor Squadron’s vintage AT-6 aircraft, Presentation of the Colors by US Marines from the Eagle Rock Recruiting Station, and a welcome speech by Mickey DePalo, himself a veteran of the Vietnam conflict and Chair of the Veterans Commemorative Committee.

The National Anthem also means different things to different people.  It is easy to imagine a soldier or marine in battle, scared, cold, not sure what the next 15 minutes will bring. Darlene Koldenhoven provided a haunting rendition of the anthem, a lonely a cappela prayer for those who may be afraid, possibly singing the anthem silently to themselves, a last thread of hope they will fight and survive their battle.

Politicians stood up to give their speeches, each offering appreciation for veterans service over the years, and expressing their best intentions to remember that service and offer veterans hope for a better life, jobs, and recognition.

Burbank Mayor Jess Talamantes offered that “it is important for us to reflect on the sacrifices and commitments of all those who have so greatly served our nation in the United States military.  Our nation will always be grateful for the nobel sacrifices veterans have made to our country.”

Congressman Adam Schiff, representing Burbank in California’s 29th District, was in Afghanistan visiting with American troops. Schiff sent a message that he believes it is an honor for him to have an opportunity to represent Burbank and the district while visiting our military warriors in “such a forbidding place.”

California State Senator Carol Liu, representing Burbank in the state’s 21st District, added we should remember our veterans not just today, “but every day.”

Mike Gatto, California State Assemblyman representing Burbank from the 43rd District, delivered a strong message that veterans are coming home, and need our help adjusting to life, getting jobs, and re-establishing their lives.  Gatto emphasized that the “best way to thank our veterans, the best way to tell them that we appreciate their service, is to make sure they do not suffer, because of it (their  service).”

While civilians may find military traditions confusing, there are some symbolic rituals that bring a deep understanding and emotion that all can understand, and during Friday’s ceremony David J. Worley, Lt Col, USAF (Ret) provided a stirring narrative explaining the  significance of “The Missing Man table.”

A round table with 5 hats, representing the uniformed services, the lone candle with a yellow ribbon, a single  red rose, black napkins, a slice of lemon, a dash of salt, an inverted glass, a faded picture of missing comrades, and an empty tilted chair.

While we may fly a POW flag (prisoner of war) as a daily gesture to ensure we do not forget, nothing will adequately  symbolize a warrior’s purity of intention, call to arms,  fear, loneliness, emptiness, or the bitter taste of a lost soul, of an imprisoned warrior, or one who dies alone, forgotten on the battlefield.

Koldenhoven followed Worley’s words with a song she wrote  for the men and women we’ve lost, entitled “Remember  Me.” Filtering out the sound of traffic, airplanes, and lawn mowers, each participant in the ceremony had no choice  but to travel with Koldenhoven into a dark place, entering  the world of a warrior who is meeting his end, with the  final thought of hoping his life will not be forgotten.

The veterans, many with extensive combat experience, mostly well into the senior phase of their lives, were quiet,  resigned, reflecting on their brothers in arms, many of  whom have passed.

Veterans hoping their efforts have resulted in some level of peace for Americans, and others throughout the world,  in conflicts where we have intervened with American blood to allow freedom from tyranny and violence.

How can a Marine explain to a young man or woman in 2011 what is means to be a 19 year old infantry man, called to  duty in the prime of his life, finding himself in the  Chosin Reservoir in Korea.

A young man who should be at the beach chasing girls, but is now freezing in a pit with a few other Marines, surrounded by an overwhelming enemy force, fighting for his life.

And now, 60 years later watching a ceremony where everybody  waves flags, politicians talk, and the community tries  their best to give veterans a day of their own – the  veterans remain oddly silent, brought back to that time in Korea, Vietnam, Omaha Beach, Kandahar, Tripoli, or  Gettysburg.

A benediction by Dr. Jerry A. Jones reminded us to pray that the souls we have lost may “forever rest in peace.”

Burbank honored veterans, showing great respect, as able, for veterans of all wars.  DePalo ended the ceremony with a  sharp challenge and reminder.

There are many young men  and women who are coming home, who have recently been  discharged, and will soon be looking for jobs.  I call on  the public and private sector to strongly consider veterans  when you have positions open.

These young men and women have been tested under the most extreme situations, and have performed admirably and  bravely.  They were given a job to do, and they performed  it to their utmost.  I am sure the maturity and  determination these young people possess would benefit both the organization that hires them, and the city in which they reside.

And if you are asking me, Mickey, do you think veterans should get preferential treatment?  You’re darn right I do.”

Veteran’s Day, Burbank, California, November 11th, 2011

Veteran’s Day Photo Gallery Presented By Ross A. Benson