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Galt honors veterans with displays at community center

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Posted: Friday, November 8, 2002 10:00 pm

Littleton Community Center was filled with World War II-era military uniforms, 1940s newspapers and old-fashioned reminiscing Friday at the fifth annual Salute to Veterans.

Former Galt Mayor and 30-year City Councilman Bob Biederman draped the walls of one side of the center with front-page headlines about Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941 and the United States' victory over Japan in 1945.

Biederman had tables full of photographs of himself during World War II, books, magazines and four model fighter planes he bought this year at the California State Fair.

"Getting it out once a year, you relive it," Biederman said.

Biederman was a training pilot and sergeant in the 335th Squadron and the 9th Air Force Command. He was first stationed at what was then Mather Air Force Base in Rancho Cordova and then served elsewhere in the United States

In 1948, two years after Galt became an incorporated city, Biederman ran for City Council in what became a 30-year tenure. He was mayor much of that time as well.

A disappointing crowd turned out Friday to look at the day-long displays. The largest contingent was 30 people from the senior nutrition program, a trip that was arranged by Gloria Stemler, a volunteer at the Galt Community Concilio.

Otherwise, visitors trickled in throughout the day, and participants in the display exchanged wartime experiences with each other.

"I wish there were more people here," said longtime Galt resident Sue Dean.

Dean's late husband, Ralph "Red" Dean, who died in 1990, served in the Army in the Pacific and Europe during World War II. They weren't married at the time, so Dean doesn't know as much as she'd like about her husband's military career, including the memorabilia she has at home.

"I got enough stuff (to display)," she said. "I wish I knew more about it."

Cecilia Captein, a 30-year Galt resident, viewed the displays because of her childhood memories in the 1940s.

"I lived in Holland; I went through the war in Holland," said Captein, whose brother was in a German concentration camp. "I came here (to the tribute) because I'm grateful for what America and Britain did for us."

Others displaying memorabilia included Walter White of Lodi, Frank Dobias of Galt, Army Sgt. Danni Van Lone and her daughter, Senior Airmen Sondra Watson and Sgt. Major Richard Martinez, commander of the Army GI Forum in Sacramento.

"I've had a good time talking to the guys," said Walter White of Lodi, proudly wearing his Army uniform.

White worked in heavy maintenance, mostly repairing tanks, during his five-year stint in Germany.

"I didn't see any combat," White said. "I was one of the lucky ones."

White's display included a German-made bayonet for the Turkish Army dating back to the turn of the 20th century, a metal mess kit from which he ate his meals during World War II and a .30-caliber M-1 rifle.

"Everybody in the Army had a rifle, even the cooks," White said.

Dobias, who brought his five Army rifles and nine uniform shirts, spent 43 years in the military and was part of the Army's peacekeeping force in Japan shortly after World War II ended. A dinner-dance was held in veterans' honor Friday night, also at Littleton Community Center. The event was sponsored by the Galt Community Concilio, Galt Veterans of Foreign Wars and the Galt VFW Women's Auxiliary.

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