Veterans honor fallen comrades on KNCO for Memorial Day |

Veterans honor fallen comrades on KNCO for Memorial Day

Tom Durkin
Staff Writer
Retired U.S. Coast Guard Commander Claude Hessel organized Monday's Memorial Day celebration honoring military veterans. Hessel is commander of American Legion Post 130 and a past emcee of Memorial Day celebrations. This year, retired U.S. Army Chief Warrant Officer Will Buck and commander of VFW Post 2655 will emcee the event on KNCO NewTalk Radio.
Submitted to The Union

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Who: American Legion, VFW and KNCO

What: Memorial Day broadcast honoring military veterans

Where: KNCO NewsTalk Radio, 830 AM

When: 11 a.m. Monday

Memorial Day is the time to remember those who died in service of their country.

Nobody takes this day more seriously than military veterans who have lost comrades in arms.

The Grass Valley American Legion, Nevada City Veterans of Foreign Wars and KNCO NewsTalk Radio are not going to let a pandemic stop them from performing their sacred duty.

At 11 a.m. Monday, Memorial Day, KNCO’s Tom Fitzsimmons and retired U.S. Army Chief Warrant Officer 2 Will Buck will host a Memorial Day show honoring veterans.

Buck is An Afghanistan and Iraq war veteran, and commander of VFW Post 2655 in Nevada City. Fitzsimmons is program director of KNCO.

The special show will feature prerecorded interviews with almost a dozen World War II veterans, including Lou Conter and Stan Zabka. Conter survived the attack on the battleship Arizona in Pearl Harbor. Zabka and seven brothers all served in — and survived — World War II.

U.S. Rep. Doug LaMalfa has also recorded a segment for the program.

The COVID-19 pandemic waylaid plans for veterans, family and friends to honor those who died serving their nation. Normally, the gathering would occur at the Veterans Memorial Hall or Memorial Park in Grass Valley.

When Buck told Fitzsimmons there will be no gathering this year, Fitzsimmons suggested, “Let’s gather round the radio.”

Fitzsimmons hosts a monthly show discussing veterans’ affairs with members of the VFW, American Legion and Marine Corps League. The program airs at 1 p.m. the first Tuesday of the month at 830 AM.

Retired Coast Guard Commander Claude Hessel of Penn Valley is organizing the Memorial Day show. Hessel is Commander of the American Legion Frank Gallino Post 130 of Grass Valley. Post 130 celebrated its 100-year anniversary last November.

Hessel said the show will honor two women veterans of World War II who died last year. Bernie Bachli of the Army Air Corps was a past commander of the Grass Valley American Legion Post. Lou Lemon was with the Women’s Army Corps.

World War II veteran and past American Legion post commander James Espinoza will also be honored, Hessel said.

Among the program highlights will be Donna Mattson singing the National Anthem and a medley of patriotic songs. Also Barbra Conner and Terry Allwein will sing “If You’re Reading This” and “God Bless the USA.”

Although it won’t be on the radio, Buck reported that a VFW honor guard will be deployed to lay wreaths and perform a salute at both Pioneer Park in Nevada City and Memorial Park in Grass Valley.

“This is to honor our brothers and sisters who died in combat,” Buck said.

Because of the pandemic, the VFW ceremonies will not be open to the public.

Tom Durkin is a staff writer with The Union.

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