Never Forgetting the Price of Freedom

PHOTO: T.A. Graydon - NewsPlus

Boy Scouts of America, Troop 351 Honor Guards Vincent Porro, Joshua Carpena, Lukas Vinis, Shomair Nance, and Devan Bayless hoist “Old Glory” For V.F.W. Leaders Mike Mestas, Post Commander Mike Bazylak, Veterans Dave Cheney and Gunther Steinberger, and a very patriotic assembly, at V.F.W. Post 9415 in Phelan.

On Memorial Day, Monday, May 29, 2023, Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 9415 recognized our fallen heroes of military service who have paid the ultimate price for freedom. In grand fashion, Post Commander Mike Bazylak, and Charter President of the Auxiliary Janice Bazylak, offered up V.F.W. Post 9415 to all veterans’ friends, families, and the surrounding patriotic community, for a Memorial Day to remember, at this bastion of Freedom and Liberty in Phelan.

Serrano High School Choir receives a standing ovation for their “Military Medley.”

The Serrano High School Choir, under the direction of the much-commended Choir Director Jonny Dolan, performed marvelously for the mid-morning group. As they traversed the front grounds of the post, next to the full-size M-1 Abrams Tank and the Armored Personnel Carrier, the flag poles were being prepared for the retiring of the American flag ceremony. Boy Scouts of America Troop 351, With a few select V.F.W. members, lowered “Old Glory” to be replaced with a fresh flag. “Taps” was performed by Post Chaplain Bobb Carreon on his trusted bugle, which resonated bravely alongside the Serrano Choir’s outdoor performance. The elements of Music, Mother Nature, and Humanity came together for an unforgettable memorial.

The 2023 Serrano High School Choir was a wonderful, and very welcome addition to the Memorial Day program. The performances were “Stellar.”

After a very somber yet spirit-lifting hoisting of the American Flag, more ceremony awaited inside the Veterans Hall for everyone to enjoy. There was no denying allegiance to the American flag upon entering the main hall of the V.F.W. post 9415. The V.F.W. always has a patriotic flair, even without the red, white, and blue motif. The 18-member Serrano high choir entertained with their all-vocal renditions of military songs and marches. In reference to the occasion, Choir Director Jonny Dolan announced that the group would like to thank the veterans in the best way they knew how with music. A generous donation of Pizzas from the Pizza Factory in Phelan and a buffet of fried chicken, salads, and desserts were served for lunch. A very patriotic display of raffle prizes complemented the already decorated banquet/meeting room. Hopefully, the Boy Scouts of Troop 351 could hear the stellar vocals of the Serrano Choir coming from inside the meeting hall while they were preparing the retired flag for incineration. After a brief ceremony, the used flag would be placed in a charcoal burning pit. A solemn event; viewers saluted while the flag was consumed by flame outside on the North grounds of Post 9415.

Troop 351 retires an American flag with full regalia.
Veterans of Foreign Wars, Charter President of the Auxiliary, Janice Bazylak, and Post Commander Mike Balyzak, stand proudly in front of the many historical, military, and interesting artifacts in the display cases at V.F.W. Post 9415.

Attending a Veteran’s of Foreign Wars gathering is a colorful occasion. Besides the obvious stars and stripes, emblems, badges, medals, and pins sewed to their black vests, the stories and memories of the veterans could paint a vibrant picture themselves. Ninety-two-year-old Army Master Sergeant Lyle Farmer could share a tale or two from his tour of duty. A trained tank mechanic with no open positions available, at the last moment, a tank commander happened to need a Patton tank operator for his command tank. This was the career move of his life, keeping him further from the battlefront. Korean War Veteran Villy Jorgenson was in the Danish Air Force repairing American Fighter Jets to be flown back to the Korean Conflict. All of these stories played a part in the fight for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness around the globe.

Veteran Gunther Steinberger and wife Dorothy distribute “Flanders Fields” poppies to local tradesman Zachary Lam, and April Ward of Storm Stables for Memorial Day at Stater Bros., Phelan.

On the other side of town, a tradition continued at The Stater Bros. Market with veterans passing out “Poppies” in remembrance of our fallen soldiers. The tiny, red flower represents the poem “Flanders Fields” from World War 1, written by Major John McCrae, a Canadian Army Field Surgeon, as a reminder to contemplate memories of our departed warriors.

The Veterans of Foreign Wars would like to say Thank You for all the donations of food, raffle prizes, and cash from the merchants and donors in the Tri-Community. V.F.W. Post 9415 would like to contact a “Mystery Woman” who brought in hand-made knitted beanies to give to the vets for charity but did not leave a calling card. Post 9415 welcomes visitors and friends to the hall for all upcoming events and is available for rental. V.F.W. Post 9415 (760-868-5036) is your new Friday Night Dinner destination, with their much raved about Steak Dinner with all the fixings. All contributions go to Missing in Action (M.I.A.) and Prisoner of War (P.O.W.) charities. Special Thanks to The Pizza Factory in Phelan for their support and the delicious pizza for the day’s lunch. Also, thank you to Boy Scout Troop 351 and the Serrano High School Choir for the wonderful performances on this day of remembrance towards our brave, fighting Men and Women.

A bevy of star-spangled raffle prizes brightened up the dining area of V.F.W. Post 9415.

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