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World War II vets in San Clemente spend Veterans Day distributing handmade Buddy Poppies to symbolize their solidarity, brotherhood and sacrifice while recalling experiences of their service.

By DAVID BRO / SPECIAL TO THE REGISTER

SAN CLEMENTE -(CA)- Army veteran Sam Thorndyke, 85, of San Clemente is on a mission. He’s pretty sure that if he lives to be 105 he’ll be the oldest living veteran of World War II’s Pacific theater.

On Friday, Thorndyke, a member of San Clemente’s Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 7142, sat with fellow Army WWII veteran George Key, great-great-grandson of “Star-Spangled Banner” author Francis Scott Key, in front of the Ralphs supermarket off Camino de los Mares in San Clemente to hand out Buddy Poppies in honor of Veterans Day.  Buddy Poppies are lapel decorations made by vets as a symbol of solidarity and brotherhood and a remembrance of their sacrifice.

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Judy Brown of San Clemente accepts a Buddy Poppy from World War II veterans George Key, right, and Sam Thorndyke on Veterans Day. “We are so proud of our veterans,” Brown said.
DAVID BRO, FOR THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER

WHERE TO GET A BUDDY POPPY

VFW Post 7142 is handing out Buddy Poppies on Friday and Saturday outside San Clemente’s two Albertsons supermarkets on Avenida Pico and the Ralphs and Stater Bros. stores on Camino de los Mares.

Donations will be accepted to support five veterans-related charities.

For more information, call George Key at 949-498-2489.

“The best part about this is the stories we get to share with people. We hear some great stories,” said Key, who served as an engineer and participated in five campaigns across Europe after landing at Omaha Beach in France.

Capistrano Beach resident Katherine Sgambellone said her grandfather fought as a German soldier in the muddy trenches of Europe during World War I.  She held her hands to her face and covered her mouth, illustrating how her grandfather told her is the best way to light a cigarette on a battlefield without getting shot. Opposing snipers would see the lighted end and shoot for its glow, she said.

The veterans around her nodded in agreement.

Thorndyke was an infantryman from 1944 to 1946 and was awarded the Bronze Star for his actions during the campaign to liberate the Philippines  from Japanese control.

Thorndyke recalled being on the Philippine island of Luzon when his captain asked for volunteers as scouts to lead a patrol through the jungle.  A buddy of his put his hand up.

His buddy was shot in the neck during the patrol, though the bullet went through without causing major damage and left just two little scars.

“Don’t ever volunteer,” Thorndyke told the soldier upon his return.

Telling the story Friday, he shared a laugh with Key when someone suggested Thorndyke should have given the advice before his friend volunteered.

Thorndyke held up his hands and smiled. “You just have to accept your fate and hope for the best,” he said.

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A helping hand from Dad.

 

 

CAMP PENDLETON -(CA)- More than 700 Marine families at Camp Pendleton received free back-to-school supplies, clothes and shoes over the weekend, courtesy of area chapters of the Assistance League, a national nonprofit organization.

For several hours Saturday and Sunday, families, assisted by personal shoppers, made the rounds at the San Onofre Community Center at the Marine base, selecting notebooks, pens, paper, hygiene kits with toothbrushes and toothpaste, and two complete school outfits for boys and girls from kindergarten to 12th grade. Goods worth about $75,000 were distributed.

Marine kids hit the rack.

Marine Sgt. Natan Nagler helps his son Andrew, 6, pick out a pair of jeans during the Assistance League’s back-to-school charity event at the San Onofre Community Center at Camp Pendleton.

“It’s brilliant; the families are so grateful,” said former British Royal Marine Anthony Kay of Oceanside, now a U.S. Marine Corps community-service recreational assistant at Camp Pendleton. “The organization, with time slots and appointments, makes everything run smoothly.”

 

Already a long day and it's only been 15 minutes.


Ann Steinhilper, Assistance League of Capistrano Valley chapter chairwoman for Camp Pendleton, said six other chapters also participated to make this year’s back-to-school event the biggest since it began five years ago. The Laguna BeachSaddleback Valley, Temecula Valley, Rancho San Dieguito, North Coast San Diego and Inland North Coast (San Diego) chapters joined Capistrano Valley, each working about 50 hours over two weeks to assemble the project. Steinhilper said each chapter was responsible for selecting, purchasing and delivering goods to the Community Center, using money raised throughout the year at fundraisers and donation drives, as well as through grants for nonprofits.

Shaylee Wallace, 13, of Oceanside welcomed the effort with a big smile, saying what a help the new clothes would be this school year.

Danielle Kidder, 12, attended with her father, Marine Staff Sgt. Warren Kidder of the 7th Engineer Support Battalion. She said she was happy with the two new tops she got, especially a bright purple sweat shirt.

 

New jeans are definitely worth a big smile

Sheri Burns, a Marine Corps community-service worker who has a son in the Marines, said there’s no doubt the event raises the spirits of Marine families and expresses how the surrounding community appreciates what the Marines do for their country.

“It’s just a good thing to do, and giving things is another way for people to say ‘Thank you’ to the families of the deployed Marines,” Burns said. “It really helps out.”

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Bring'n it in.

CAMP PENDLETON -(CA)- The San Clemente Heritage Foundation, which supports Semper Fi Park, The Marine Monument, attended an open house, along with City of San Clemente officials and Chamber of Commerce members, hosted by the foundation’s adopted US Marine Helicopter Light Attack Squadron, “Scarface” (Hover Cover)- HMLA 367, at Camp Pendleton on Friday morning.

Big shoulders for a big job.

Guests were briefed by Marine pilot, and 2010 Marine Aviator of the Year, Captain Gregory Youngberg, on the squadron’s history, equipment, mission and capability.  The group was also addressed by Squadron Commanding Officer and past Marine Aviator of the Year, Lt. Col. Carlton Hasle, explaining the unit’s distinction in leading the largest Helicopter operation since the Vietnam War, in Marjah, Afghanistan during their last deployment in 2010.

Don't tread on me.

The group was shown how Marine Corps pilots are trained with night vision goggles and actually got to test them out in specially designed “dark rooms” complete with small scaled terrain models that display roads, bridges, buildings, hills and forests as seen by chopper pilots in flight.

US Marines as a general rule, improvise, adapt and overcome.

Attendees were also shown and allowed to “fly” in the same flight simulators Marine pilots spend up to several hours a week to fine tune and sharpen their skills.

Chamber of Commerce member and former Marine, Burton Brown, “flew” second seat in a Huey Cobra simulator gunship with only a little help and a proud handshake afterwards from 367 Marine pilot Captain Ferrone. “Scarface” HMLA 367 is the first and only squadron in the US military to have the newest upgraded four bladed Huey “Yankee” utiltiy helicopter and the Huey “Zulu” Cobra gunships along with a state of the art flight simulator for each chopper.  The upgrade basically takes the regular two blade models, commonly recognized in any Vietnam war movie, adding two more blades, giveing the aircraft more power, lift and stability, which is a critical with the latest technology advances in weaponry.

Civilian Simulator Program Director and former Marine Helicopter pilot, Jack Welch, says the units cost about 20 million dollars each and have been on the drawing board for last 15 years.

“No one else in the world has this, and they won’t…it’s all made in the United States because we are the best…no one in the world can compare.” Welch said.

Practice makes perfect.

Squadron CO, Lt. Col. Hasle presented San Clemente Mayor Lori Donchak with a large glass framed “Thank You” with photos, patches and signed by everyone from “Scarface” HMLA 367, stating how much the City’s support means to the unit, while committing to speaking again at the City’s 4th of July festivities.

“Last year they said it would be around 400 people, and it was more like 10,000, so even though I am a little suspicious, I’ll be there.” Lt. Col. Hasle said with a big smile.

Its got to be something to do with the uniform.

Finally, the group was taken out to the flight line through the unit’s hanger bay to watch as squadron choppers were brought in, landing so that everyone could climb inside and check them out and ask questions first hand.  Chamber of Commerce member Steve Ynzunza said he is absolutely sure the Marines put taxpayer monies to good use after what he saw on Friday morning.

A group for all seasons.

“We see these same helicopters fly over San Clemente, up the coast all the time and you just can’t really see what they are actually all about until you are this close, its just amazing.” Ynzunza said.

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One of the first images of the Moon and on film

SAN CLEMENTE, -(CA)- Can Big Brother see you in your underwear from space? According to John Hoot, who owns an imaging consulting firm in San Clemente that works with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, the average satellites orbiting the Earth at altitudes of 190 to 450 miles can see you – but not with enough resolution to say it’s you and not your neighbor.

During a presentation called “Images in Space” on Thursday night at Casa Romantica Cultural Center and Gardens in San Clemente, Hoot said satellites normally operate at higher altitudes to avoid being pulled down by Earth’s gravity but can come down lower for a short time to take photos when its important enough. That’s when they can collect some great images.

Let me go out to the car and get my checkbook.

Because of particles in Earth’s atmosphere such as dust, smog and moisture, imaging technology like that used by Google Earth can get image resolutions only within about 10 feet of clarity. Hoot says cameras, lenses and technology are sophisticated enough to realize high resolutions within an inch or two at altitudes of 190 miles, but the Earth’s cloudy atmosphere is hard to get around without what he calls “adaptive optics.” That’s what likely is used on U.S. military satellites to get better images than what any civilian will ever see.

Hoot detailed the beginnings of space photography, which he says essentially began just after World War II when the United States brought back more than 200 German V-2 rockets captured at the end of the war, placed cameras inside them and tested them as a means of aerial reconnaissance.

look closely to see who is really taking the photo.

In his hourlong talk, Hoot discussed the various forms of space photography, beginning with film and later scanners, infrared technology, television and finally solid-state sensors that deliver flat, distortionless images in very high resolution.

With film, rockets orbiting Earth would have to eject film in re-entry capsules that would float down by parachute and be recovered in midair by aircraft with special booms and wires. During those days, recovery was always planned over the Pacific Ocean, specifically over the almost 36,000-feet-deep Mariana trench, so that if any problem occurred in recovery, the capsule would be not be found by any rival country such as Russia or China.

Thanks to digital transmissions, Hoot said, the photos we see today are delivered from deep-space projects such as the Hubble Space TelescopeMars PathfinderMars Exploration Rover and the Voyager I, which, launched in September 1977, is the farthest manmade object from the Earth. Voyager I, transmitting at 1¾ watts, will continue to receive directions and send images back to Earth until at least 2025, when it begins to leave our solar system.

The fickle hand of fate?

In the beginning of space imaging, cameras were electronically simple but mechanically complex. That is now reversed, allowing devices we use every day, such as cell phones and digital cameras, to be smaller, more easily affordable and operate with greater reliability, Hoot said.

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Former Shuttle Astronaut Jose Hernandez speaks with the future.

SAN CLEMENTE –(CA)- You might not often make a connection between sweets and space, but 11-year-old Mikaela Bellomo of San Clemente says she’s more determined than ever to one day open a candy shop after hearing former astronaut Jose Hernandez speak at Casa Romantica Cultural Center and Gardens.

“You can be anything you want, but the key is an education,” Hernandez said Monday afternoon to about 200 local residents, including 60 children from the Boys & Girls Club.

Hernandez detailed his 2009 mission aboard thespace shuttle Discovery, spending 14 days circling the Earth every 90 minutes and traveling more than 5.7 million miles. The mission was to deliver 18,000 pounds of supplies and equipment to the International Space Station and collect and put in place several experiments.

Young artist with his Space Cow.

Hernandez also spoke about his early childhood as the son of migrant farmworkers in California’s Central Valley. He started working in the fields early each morning alongside his parents, brothers and sisters, picking fruit and vegetables. It was still dark outside, and Hernandez would look up to the stars and the moon. He decided at 8 years old that one day he would be an astronaut.

But due to the nature of migrant work and traveling a lot, it was hard to attend school consistently, he said. Each year, his family returned after the picking season to their home in Mexico for three months or more, making it difficult to stay proficient in English.

Hernandez reached a turning point when a teacher went to where he and his family were living, near his birthplace of French Camp, to talk about the importance of education. His parents spoke no English and the teacher spoke no Spanish, so it was up to Hernandez to interpret.

“So I would go back and forth explaining everything,” he said. “My teacher … told my parents, through me, that children, much like trees, have to be in one place to put down roots and grow, or in other words, get an education. So soon after that, we just stayed in California without returning to Mexico except for two-week vacations.”

His parents encouraged him to follow his dream, he said, saying he could do anything he set his mind to.

Hernandez showed Monday’s audience a 20-minute video of his Discovery mission. Then he accepted a $5,000 check for his charitable foundation, Reaching for the Stars, from Dr. Ronald Redmond, a local dentist who sponsored the event.

Hernandez took time for pictures, autographs and words of encouragement for the eager kids surrounding him, including Cara Kitts, 12, a San Clemente resident who aims to be an engineer.

“My favorite part was to see how the two parts (the space shuttle and the International Space Station) made the physical connection,” Kitts said. “I asked him what he thought about the space shuttle Discovery’s last mission right now, and he said he was sad because it was the one he was on.”

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Boyscout puts up a flag pole in San Juan Capistrano.

Triton makes a shot on goal

Walking back from Trestles Surf Beach.

Turkey bowling like the Indians used to do.

Every 1st Marine Division Band show, ends with a bang and streamers.

SCAT kids have a lot of energy.

He probably didn't buy Bush's book.

He’s thinking about the hole in his lung tuberculosis gave him.

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Dry Run for the 2010 Baja 1000

According to Long time resident Dave “Big Daddy” Wert, owner of Dave Wert Automotive, San Clemente belongs to either Surfers or off-roaders.  Wert contends that there are more off roaders that surf than surfers that off road.   Next week Wert with fellow teammates, Jim Vick, Terry Profit and Ken Tew, of the Highlander Racing team, will race for the fifth time in the 43rd Annual Tecate Score Baja 1000 Peninsula Run (Ensenada to La Paz) on Wednesday to Sunday, November 17th -21st, in the “Score Lites” class, with their custom two seater race buggy.  Wert’s Highlander Race team is sponsored locally by South Coast Distributers and Rainbow Sandals in San Clemente and Shooters Saloon in Mission Viejo.

“It’s a lot of work to get ready every year but I look forward to it, we always have a good time.” Wert said.

The first official “Baja 1000” began in 1967 originating from, legend has it, an informal bet between friends to race between the post office in Tijuana to the post office in La Paz and has grown to this years running with 300 entries from 37 states and 19 countries, from as far away as Denmark, South Africa and Hong Kong.  Much like the official name of the race has changed along with organizers, race divisions have been finalized this year into 34 pro and 7 sportsman classes for cars, trucks, motorcycles and ATVs (all terrain vehicles).

More dry run for the 2010 Baja 1000.

Off roading isn’t just a sport where the only thing is to get from point A to B as fast as you can but something for everyone, even if it means just hanging out around the campfire.  Driving down any street in South Orange County will reveal as many motorcycles and off road gear in open garages as surfboards, wetsuits, mountain bikes, soccer balls, snowboards, fishing poles and tricycles.   San Clemente’s JCR Honda team (Johnny Campbell Racing) will depend on 125 official volunteers to operate pits at 60 mile intervals all along this year’s 1061 mile race course.  The actual number naturally swells, with moms, kids, dogs, girlfriends and grandparents that go along, with a stay that generally lasts at long as a week and a half.

SC Rider Supply owners, Rick Caderette and Roxane Lucido a family oriented motorcycle supply, service and repair shop, in San Clemente, started their business 5 years ago and have seen it grow from nothing to 1000 regulars with an 8000 customers in the data base.  Among all the signs, posters, advertisements, stickers and photos in their shop, Lucido’s well known trademark, “Do You Ride?”, asks the question equally to scooter owners and Harley riders, illustrating SC Riders Supply’s “everyone is welcome” attitude.

“Off roading gets people out of their everyday environment…it’s a family event with the load up, campfire and bar-b-ques and most of it isn’t even the riding…” Lucido said, “its not uncommon to have camps of 60 people all together having a good time…”

This year in addition to Wert and the Highlander Race team, 4 San Clemente motorcycle riders and their families will be looking for a lot of fun and hopefully a win at this year’s Baja 1000.  The Score International Desert Race Series is comprised of a mix of 5 events; 3 in Mexico and two in the state of Nevada where individual races are won as well as an eventual series winner.  Through a points tally, after this years Baja 1000 and last in the series, a Desert Series champion will be declared in all classes.  San Clemente’s JCR Honda team rider, Colton Udall, leads in points going into Wednesdays Race in the premier Class 22 open pro, along with teammates, Jeff Kargola, Timmy Weigand and Justin ImHof.

Colton Udall rides for JCR Honda.

The Pro Factory Team Rider:

Udall, 24, is born and raised in San Clemente and first started riding at 10 with his first race at 14.  He worked as a mechanic first for Nicoll racing before going pro at 20 and getting a spot on JCR as mechanic and pro rider.  Udall first raced Baja in 2007 and now leads in points where a first or second in this Years Baja 100, riding against 10 other teams, will earn him the series championship.  Udall was originally attracted to JCR because of team owner “King of Baja” Johnny Campbell, describing him as a great mentor and personal example to follow.

“I can talk to him about anything…” Udall says of Campbell.

Udall races several times a year, taking a factory new Honda, adding or swapping out 30% of its original parts, to make up a bike that will be used for only one race.  After 80 hours, including testing and the actual race, he tears it apart and starts over with a new bike for the next event.  Udall’s Baja Bike started out as a Factory Honda CRF 450 retailing for about $8000 dollars and will finish at $15,000 after the improvements according to Campbell.  In addition to JCR, Udall has sponsorships from Dragon Goggles, Osiris shoes, Acerbis riding gear and A’ME grips.

“I’d like to race till I’m 40…desert racers can stay competitive longer than guys on the track” Udall says

Apart from his daily and weekly work schedule as race mechanic at JCR, Udall works out at the gym, rides his mountain bike or runs for about 2 hours a day.  Weekends he rides or races completing 20 to 25 hours a week in preparation.  Campbell will be watching closely from the JCR Honda team helicopter; Udall is confident about this year’s Baja 1000 outcome.

“We’re here to win…I’m doing it to be the fastest…” Udall said.

Just lettn' the sun go down.

The Pro Privateer:

Bryce Stavron, 21, of San Clemente, originally was looking for a career in skateboarding , when at 16, after watching his brother compete on motorcycles began a career in motocross track racing instead.  Switching over to desert racing 2 years ago, turning pro and signing on with the leading privateer (without factory support) DP racing of San Diego, he has gained a reputation as a good technical rider with daring come from behind tenacity.

“You can never expect something to happen the way you want it too.” Stavron said.

His first Score Series desert race, the Baja 250, he was expecting to complete his assigned 150 leg in 2 to 3 hours when it turned into 6 hours of almost the entire race after a teammate fell breaking his collar bone completing only the first 23 miles.  Stavron took his team from 107th place with 109 competitors to finish 13th overall and 7th in class 22 open pro.

“I had Johnny’s (Campbell) voice in my head, ‘Don’t Give up’ and, I heard Colton Udal telling me, ‘Slower is smoother… smoother is faster’…”Stavron said.

Stavron describes the final straight away with banners and crowds lining the street but mostly remembers his whole team waiting for him and his dad greeting him at the finish line.

“He was crying, which doesn’t happen often, and gave me a big hug…” Stavron said.

Stavron works at Echo Designs in San Clemente, a product and catalog photo studio,  owned by a desert racer, working out time to train and practice his riding.  He puts in 20 hours a week in the gym, on rides, skateboarding, racing and even shoveling out jumps on humble dirt tracks across Southern California, for conditioning.

“You can’t win a championship in the first race but you can loose one” Stavron said.

Stavron has worked hard to ride for DP Racing, in addition to gaining sponsorships from Toyota of Escondido, KLeN Laundry, One Industries, Nicoll Racing, VonZipper, Pro Circuit, Kicker Stereo, ODI, Cycra and Seal Savers.  Stavron credits Johnny Campbell as a big influence on his life and with a career in racing where he says “there is no turning back.”

“He (Campbell) has a faith in God and I’ve learned from him that whatever happens, it’s for a reason.” Stavron said.

The New Pro:

Donald Stanley, 18, is a recent San Clemente High School graduate and will race this year’s Baja 1000 for the last time as an amateur in the Sportsman 450 class before turning pro next year.  Racing this last year for Baja Mex Racing, Stanley has signed with DP racing for next year.  His teammates in the relay are Fred Sobke, Carlos Lopez, Jake Staggs and David Starlett.

“I know I won’t let down DP Racing next year and Baja Mex Racing was an amazing experience to get my feet wet.”

Stanley didn’t start riding seriously until he turned 16 and states that if he could change anything it would be to have started riding when he was 7 or 8.  Stanley hired a trainer, Richard at Dana Point Cross Fit, to help him get in shape and puts in about 2 hours a day between the gym and practice rides.  He rides 8 to 16 hours on the weekends, racing every other week somewhere in Southern California, generally placing in the top 5.

Stanley follows his father, JR Stanley, of Stanley’s Muffler in San Clemente, a lifetime Baja rider and hopes to be the top racer in Baja. Stanley relates he is glad to have sponsors with Baja races costing a team between $7000 to $8000, and is sponsored by CJR Baja Preparations, SCRS, Nicoll Racing, JCR Support, Dana Point Cross Fit, Toyko Mods, Coast Powder Coatings, Stanley’s Mufflers and Baja Mex Insurance.

Stanley says he likes to sing into his helmet while riding and remembers his best riding was a fun-run on the beach near San Quintin, in Baja.

“ All the kids came out of their houses, running across the beach to give us high 5’s as we went by at 100 miles per hour…I like the feeling of going fast.” Stanley says.

The Future Pro:

Ian Young, 16, of San Clemente, and Colton Udall’s brother will be race the Baja 1000 this year representing the injured with the Wounded Warriors Project.  He began riding motorcycles at 3 years old, right after taking the training wheels off his two wheeler.  Young, whose step dad is 2 time US National Speedway Champion “Rad” Brad Oxley, grew up racing all over the western United States with his brother Udall and calls him his all time hero and inspiration; he has not been racing recently.  His goals are to stay in the motorcycle industry and go pro to race along side his brother.  His sponsors are Metal Mulisha, Osiris Shoes and Dragon Goggles.

“Yeah, I’m just trying to stay low key for now, have fun and get back into racing slowly,  my main thing is riding the 1000 with the Wounded Warriors…I am really excited about it and happy to do my part…” Young said.

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