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Military banners make debut
• 31 banners posted on poles in downtown Ceres to honor locals
Hank Unruh hangs banner
City employee Hank Unruh attached a banner honoring Christopher Green Monday morning at Fourth and North streets. - photo by Jeff Benziger

The faces and names of Ceres’ own military service personnel – both past and present – now line several streets of downtown Ceres with the community’s first-ever Military Banner program.

The 31 banners went up Monday on Third, Fourth and North streets in time for Veteran’s Day on Friday and feature the service member’s photo, name, and branch of service. Banners will remain hanging on the poles for a year until their retirement and presented to the family, as a new cycle begins.

At a short ceremony held yesterday morning at the Ceres Community Center, veterans thanked the city for accomplishing the banner project.

Vice Mayor Bret Silveira said the banner project came about after the city renamed Eastgate Park and one of the suggestions was the name of Veterans Park. With the council deciding instead choosing to name the park after the late former Councilman Guillermo Ochoa – based on the numbers of citizen requests – city leaders felt the need to do a “better job” in honoring veterans. He singled out Ceres veteran Gene Yeakley for spurring the city to get the banner idea going.

Yeakley also served on an ad hoc committee to look into the banner program.

“Like we always say in Ceres, ‘Together We Achieve,’ that teamwork is the only reason this happened,” said Silveira.

“We just don’t do this enough,” the vice mayor said. “Whether it’s law enforcement or military or first-responders, we need to recognize those people who are so important to our society and maybe it’s appropriate that we’re doing this today on Election Day which is another very important of our process.”

One of those who attended the ceremony was Marine Captain Victor Tubera who is stationed in Houston, Texas after coming home Sept. 30 from a yearlong deployment to Kosovo. He helped Afghan refugees transition into the American way of life.

“I think it’s awesome, showing support for the military and being able to recognize every branch,” said Tubera, who has been in the Marines seven years after graduating from Central Valley High School in 2015. 

“It’s very humbling for me to be honored.”

The Ceres City Council decided earlier this year to use $7,000 of federal ARPA funds to purchase and hang the first of the military banners. Turlock’s All Star Trophies & Banners supplied the banners for $158.40 apiece.

Recreation Manager Joey Chavez said a survey revealed that Ceres is hometown to 123 active service personnel and 22 reserves residing in 95307 95351 and 95358 zip codes. 

The city will also be looking for financial sponsors to keep the program running after the first year to pre-empt the need to charge families of the member for the banners. The program is administered through the city Recreation Department.

The banners honor the following military personnel from the past and present and their branch of service:

Ryan Palecek, Navy

Christopher Green, Army

Steven Whitney, Marines

Katelynn Gapuz, Navy

Bruce Williams, Air Force

Walter Butler, Navy

Jacob Sather, Marines

Isaias Jimenez, Navy

Angel Ochoa, Marines

Daran Chan, Army National Guard

Adrian Torres, Army

Joseph Mendez, Air Force

Eugene Warren, Army Air Force

John A. Warren, Army

John Warren, Navy

Jesse Duran, Army National Guard

Victor Tubera, Marines

Brandon Turney, Air Force

Juan Camarena, Army

Eulizes Montalvo, Cal Guard U.S. Army

Julius Tamez, Army

Ryan Jetton, Army

Alexis Lopez, Army

Christian Schneider, Air Force

Dylan Grubeck, Army

Guillermo Piceno Jr., Marine

Dylan Kong, Navy

Eric Branson, Army

Lanny Branson, Army

Glenn Smith, Marine

Ashley Saededdin, Army

Banner committee
Mayor Javier Lopez spoke at yesterday’s dedication ceremony for the military banners. He recognized members of the ad hoc committee, including Freddy Morales of the Veterans of Foreign Wars (left), Councilman James Casey, Gene Yeakley, John Warren, Army Sgt. George King and American Legion Commander Pete Samaniego. - photo by Jeff Benziger
Victor Tubera
Marine Captain Victor Tubera returned home for Tuesday’s celebration of the new military banners. He is a Central Valley High graduate. - photo by Jeff Benziger
Glenn Smith banner
A banner honoring World War II era veteran Glenn Smith is now hanging outside the Chamber office at Fourth & North streets. - photo by Jeff Benziger