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Telling the stories of local veterans

Thursday, November 03, 2011

The Central Valley is home to many veterans of wars past and present, each with their story of service to their country. Some of those stories can be found in a new book from a Valley author whose weekly writing class for vets helped them come to terms with their military service.

Jane James is a World War II veteran who joined the "Always Ready" Coast Guard in 1944. One of the many women whose service freed up men to serve overseas.

James said, "At the time I was working in San Francisco in the custom house working for the Army engineers and the Coast Guard was in that building."

She was 23-years-old, met and married a pilot during her service who would parish in plane crash. At the age of 90 her story is among ninety-five accounts in this book: 'Stories of Service Volume II'. Vietnam Veteran Lee Self served aboard a Navy ship that patrolled the Mekong Delta in Vietnam. A dangerous duty that he survived.

"Once you start delving in to that period in your life you kind of want to share it," said Self. "And it's kinda, medicinal, you could say."

Fresno Author Janice Stevens edited the stories written by ninety-five veterans from her writers class held at the Clovis Memorial District.

Stevens said, "We can write all kinds of history about something but we don't have the history from those who served, so that's the critical need for that."

Veterans of all ages share common experiences but each has a individual story that can help us all better appreciate their service and sacrifice. For this veteran service is a family tradition.

My mother was a Rosie the Riveter at Eagle Field, I had many uncles in the Korean War and my oldest son served in the Army, a captain, tank commander, served in Afghanistan and Iraq.

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