InsideCDCR asked for remembrances, recollections and stories to honor and remember those who have served in the armed forces. These are some of those stories.
Submitted by Lt. Ray Baez, Senior Background Investigator/Recruiter
CDCR Office of Peace Officer Selections, Rancho Cucamonga
“I’m an Army veteran from ’85-’92 who served as a 19D Cavalry Scout in West Germany when there was a West Germany. Our primary mission was to protect the portion of the border called the Fulda Gap which included parts of the East German and Czechoslovakian borders. A lot of interesting things happened throughout my tenure there, even though it was peacetime.
I’m also a proud father of a United States Marine, Cpl. Michael Baez, who has one combat tour under his belt. I can’t tell you enough of how proud I am of my son but also of all the men and women serving our country in our Armed Forces.
It is a very different world we live in now than when I served. Every time I see an active duty service member, I not only shake their hand but I feel so proud to be an American and to share in the brotherhood of having served. But most importantly, I say a prayer for them.
When these young men and women sign on the dotted line, there is a 90 percent chance that they will see combat. Please pray for our troops and when you see them, thank them! Remember, this great country still has an all-volunteer armed forces.”
Submitted by Correctional Officer Charles Dyer
California Medical Facility
“I retired in 2006 as a Master Sergeant, having served for over 20 years at Travis Air Force Base.
I would like to reflect on a story about some reservists who stepped up to the challenge of supporting the war effort instead of disappearing when called upon.
As a young supervisor working the flight line and then deploying, I found myself knee deep in a heavy workload with broken aircraft coming in at a high rate.
It was at this time, I was most surprised. The reservists we were assigned worked side by side with us for 22 straight hours to fix several aircraft.
I am proud to say after retiring from the Air Force, I am working in CDCR with those same reservists at California Medical Facility and California State Prison, Solano.”
Submitted by Correctional Officer Tranada Ross
Salinas Valley State Prison
“My veteran hero is my father, Salinas Valley State Prison Lt. Michael Ross, who is a retired Major with 26 years of duty in the Army National Guard.
Growing up, I watched my dad put on his military uniform with so much pride. No matter what shift he worked at CDCR, his uniform and boots were polished, pristine and ready to go to drill. He taught me the importance of being a leader, hard work, persistence and how education is the most important thing in life.
In 2006, a month after my dad turned 50 years old, he was called back to active duty and deployed to Iraq. This was one of the biggest sacrifices my family and I have ever had to do for the military.
I’m also a Technical Sergeant in the U.S. Air Force Reserves. While my dad was playing in Iraq sand, I got orders from the U.S. Air Force to go TDY (temporary duty) at Hickam Air Force Base in Hawaii.
While in Hawaii, I sent my dad a postcard with a woman caught in a fisherman’s net on the beach and wrote, ‘I bet your sand doesn’t look like this.’ Then I told him he chose the wrong branch of service. He will always be ‘My Army of One.’ He taught me ‘To Aim High.’”
Submitted by Fire Captain Brian Escamilla
North Kern State Prison
“The North Kern State Prison Fire Department would occasionally ring off a variety of military tones.
At the NKSP Fire Station (during the 2010 year or so…) we rang off Marine (for A. Meza), National Guard (for W. Streeter) and Army (for B. Escamilla).
There was the sharing and telling of a variety of military training, duties, jobs and experiences. It was great to work together and great to share the common bond of military duties.
It’s another way to remember the necessities, defense and strengths of the core of the nation.”
Submitted by Correctional Officer Richlin Chan
San Quentin State Prison
“I received an honorable discharge from the U.S. Army in South Korea after serving four years active duty as an Artilleryman. I have been working as a correctional officer at San Quentin State Prison for about seven years.
I still serve in the Army Reserves with over 14 years of service. Working for CDCR has allowed me to not only serve my country, but to excel in my military career. I currently hold the rank of First Lieutenant.
Since I have started working for the department I have attended Basic Non-Commissioned Officers Course (Staff Sergeant Course), Drill Sergeant School, Military Police School (as Enlisted) and Military Police School (as Officer).
In addition to my annual training, I deployed to Afghanistan for 12 months as a Convoy Team Leader and next year I am scheduled for a 13-month tour in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Some of my Army Reserve counterparts have employers who aren’t as willing to assist service members with their military duties.
I am very grateful for the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation and my Personnel Assignment Lieutenant for their support of the men and women of the Armed Forces.”
Submitted by Kurt L. Moore, Materials and Stores Supervisor
North Kern State Prison
“I served 27 years in the U.S. Air Force, retiring as a Master Sergeant.
In 1986, while stationed at a Joint Turkey/USA NATO base, we were participating in a local joint NATO exercise with the host base. Our mission was to store, maintain and provide nuclear weapons systems for the host base aircraft to deliver in a time of war.
During this night exercise, there were checkpoints at certain areas of the base. At these checkpoints, passwords were used and changed periodically. These passwords were changed during a 24-hour period using Greenwich Mean Time, or ZULU time.
Upon arrival at a checkpoint, an argument started about the difference in passwords. Come to find out, the Turkish soldiers had changed the password at the wrong time, their local time.
My interpreter and I were cuffed, taken to the motor pool at gun point and guarded while facing the wall. We waited for their superiors to arrive.
Upon arrival, they were shocked at what had happened and apologies from their officers were endless, including a ranking general. The incident was reported to the State Department and became an ‘international incident.’ The scary part was even during the exercises, our allies used real bullets.”
Submitted by Michael M. Rupert, Stationary Engineer
California Medical Facility
“I served in the U.S. Army for three years and one week. I was drafted in 1968, and signed up for a class one week later.
I was one of the last Army classes to go through the U.S. Air force Air Traffic Control School.
There were 12 men on the bus to Oakland going into the service from Crescent City. All but me went to Viet Nam. I don’t know why, but am thankful to this day.
My only war story happened in Ft. Rucker, Alabama, at the test fire range for helicopters. I was in the tower. Normally, the UH-1’s would fly past the tower and ‘go hot.’ So one night, a UH-1D went hot before the tower, and shot a rocket past the tower.
Those things make a remarkably different sound when they are coming at you rather than when they are going away from you. Ha!
I just got a VA home loan for $0 down. Take advantage of your VA benefits.”
Submitted by Correctional Officer Charles “Chuck” Bennett
Callifornia Correctional Center/Northern Camps Division
Salt Creek Conservation Camp CC#07
“I am a Navy Seabee veteran who served from 1980-1994. I was involved with loading 16-inch rounds on a Navy ammo ship for three days ’round the clock in Sigonella, Sicily, when the Marine Barracks in Beirut was attacked.
I was also responsible for transporting our wounded Marines at Naval Air Station Sigonella when the Marine Barracks was attacked as we were the closest air strip to Beirut.
The wounded were transported to us, then sent to hospitals in Germany for treatment.
I was also involved in drilling water wells in Honduras and participated in numerous convoys during Operation Restore Hope in Somalia.
I am a Desert Storm/Shield veteran and Cold War veteran and am proud and honored to have served.”
Submitted by Office Assistant Deidra Kolman
Pelican Bay State Prison
“Before I joined the Coast Guard, where I served for three years, I would love hearing stories from my great uncle.
He served in the Air Force during WWII and was a ball turret gunner. He would mainly talk about the antics he and his buddies would pull off.
One of the stories I remember is when his plane was shot down and the crew had to bail behind enemy lines. Before he was captured, he buried his birth certificate and other important papers.
I always remember this because he and I share the same birthday, but because he buried his birth certificate, his license said his birthday was the day before. His mother would beg to differ.
He died a little over 10 years ago but he was one of many of my family who served this great country and I’m so proud of them all.”
Read more recollections with Part 1 at http://www.insidecdcr.ca.gov/2014/11/cdcr-employees-honor-veterans-with-tales-part-1/
See how High Desert State Prison helped a wounded veteran, http://www.insidecdcr.ca.gov/2014/11/wounded-soldier-gets-home-building-help-from-high-desert-state-prison-california-correctional-center/
Avenal State Prison recognized for its work with veterans, http://www.insidecdcr.ca.gov/2014/08/avenal-state-prison-recognized-for-dedication-to-military-veterans-staff-and-inmates/
CSP-Solano veterans find support in inmate group, http://www.insidecdcr.ca.gov/2014/06/csp-solano-veterans-find-support-in-inmate-group/
CDCR recognized for purchasing from small businesses, disabled veterans, http://www.insidecdcr.ca.gov/2013/12/cdcr-wins-four-awards-for-purchasing-from-small-businesses-disabled-veterans/
In 2013, CSATF/SP honor guard marched in a parade with 20,000 spectators, http://www.insidecdcr.ca.gov/2013/11/csatfsp-honor-guard-marches-before-big-veterans-day-crowd/