James Coverick of Ceres saw first-hand the horrors of war in Vietnam. As a medical evacuation helicopter crewman, he personally picked up hundreds of severely wounded American soldiers.
Today, he still serves the men and women who served in the armed forces, the reason he is one of five Stanislaus County senior citizens being honored as the 2015 Senior Award Winners by the Stanislaus County Commission on Aging.
Coverick, who is commander of Post #10293 of the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) of Ceres, was selected as the District 5 honoree. He will be recognized at the 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 19 meeting of the Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors at 1010 Tenth Street, Modesto.
Others being honored are: Belmiro Goulart of Riverbank, District 1; Myrna Wachs of Turlock, District 2; Jim Cairns of Modesto, District 3; and Richard Anderson of Modesto, District 4. The five were nominated by the public as outstanding seniors for their volunteer work in any of the areas of community service, humanitarianism, leadership, political advocacy or being a good neighbor.
Coverick, who is also captain of the VFW Honor Guard, was nominated by Len Morris, a member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars.
"Since I retired I devote all of what I can to the veterans," said Coverick. "I find great enjoyment in that."
Under his watch, the VFW post in Ceres nearly raised $9,000 at the recent crab feed - attended by 270 people - which benefits veterans and their families in the Wounded Warriers program, as well as giving to local sports teams in Ceres.
Coverick is also a member of the Military Order of the Cooties, a group that is similar to the Shriners of the military. The group takes care of veterans who are ailing at the VA Hospital in Livermore. Coverick and other volunteers go once a month to hold bingo games for them and hold barbecues.
"I pretty much do everything that nobody wants to do in the post," said Coverick, mentioning chairing the VFW Fundraising Committee. "We do get a lot of good help from the guys. We have 18 regular members who are always there at the meetings and always there to help me with Honor Guard."
He has also donated his time to refurbish the weapons used to fire 21-gun salutes at veterans' funerals.
A native of Chicago, James was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1969 and spent three years in service. A decorated combat veteran, he was assigned to a helicopter crew chief in Vietnam who picked up casualties of the war.
"It was pretty crazy, a lot of humanity blown up and stuff - just about everything you could imagine," he said.
Coverick returned and attended college in San Mateo. He was unable to become hired to work on United Airlines - because of a push to hire minorities - and went into construction.
After coming to Ceres in 1998, Coverick got involved in the Assembly of God Church on Hatch Road where he volunteered for the Royal Rangers post and helped to feed homeless people. There he met his future wife of 18 years, Trish. They have two sons together.