By Isiah REYES
The Pasadena Mexican American History Association will recognize the service of three veterans during the 2014 Honoring Our Veterans event at Brookside Golf Course on Sept. 27 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
The reception will honor Art Del Ray, Robert Gutierrez and Ezekiel “Kelly” Lopez as veterans but also for their support of the community with their leadership and volunteerism.
“One reason we chose these three veterans is because they are willing to share their life history and their military experience and they have saved some of their documents,” said Pasadena Mexican American History Association Secretary Rachel Heredia. “It’s hard to find people who save a lot of things. The other thing is that these men have been very active in the community.”
Lopez joined the Air Force on Oct. 22, 1941. Though he had not yet completed basic training, the Air Corps needed mechanics immediately so he went directly into airplane mechanic school. After graduating, he learned about the B-17 bomber and eventually was made flight engineer. He later headed to England where he was stationed in Bury St. Edmunds. For two years he mainly bombed Germany and sometimes France.
After returning from military service, Lopez headed back to Pasadena. These days, he and his wife Lillian participate in religious activities at the Church of the Foothills-United Methodist Church of Duarte.
The second honoree is Gutierrez, who was born in Pasadena and was 17 when he went to fight in World War II. He received three Purple Hearts, the first when he was wounded in action during the Gilbert Islands Occupation on Nov. 20, 1943. The second was at Saipan, the second largest island of the Northern Mariana Islands, on June 17, 1944. The third wound required hospitalization and he was later discharged.
Del Ray was also born in Pasadena. Right after high school, he registered for the U.S. Navy Air Corps. He was 20 years old when he volunteered in 1942. He became a certified bombardier and did search and rescue and reconnaissance work. After the war he became very successful in real estate and is now a real estate investor.
“There is history for those who come after us,” said Maxine Garcia Wordell, one of the founders of the Pasadena Mexican American History Association. “Many times with World War II veterans when they have something to say it needs to be published, written and documented as part of our American history.”
The reception will be in held in the Mediterranean Room at the Brookside Golf Course, located at 1133 N. Rosemont Ave., Pasadena. Tickets are $40 per person. For more information, call Rachel Heredia at (626) 441-6155.