Soaring to New Heights

Story and pictures by Susan Maxwell Skinner  |  2017-11-03

Guided by teachers Becky Page and Tavia Pagan, Orangevale kindergarten pupils enjoy an American River nature walk. The children display pictures of the rare bald eaglets they named Peekaboo and Poppy. Photo by Susan Maxwell Skinner

American River Eaglets Named and Famed

Sacramento Region, CA (MPG) - What’s in a name? Monikers chosen by children for local bald eagle babies are on the lips of raptor fans all over the world.

In the space of 12 weeks, siblings “Peekaboo and Poppy” fed, flapped and eventually flew before the kindergarten children’s eyes. Thanks to photos and social media, thousands of followers -- some from as far away as the Arab States -- experienced the growth of eaglets deemed closest-hatched to Sacramento in recorded history.

For the record, Department of Fish and Game gurus documented the American River chicks as Eaglet One and Eaglet two. Anthropomorphism – the practice of bestowing human traits and names on wild animals – is discouraged by scientists. However, nobody told the Golden Valley River School children that. “Peek and Poppy” flew the nest in June but the huge bald babies will soar in the children’s memories forever. “We walk the American River trail every week,” explains teacher Tavia Pagan. “One day in fall (2016), an adult bald eagle flew right over the children. We all knew the national bird. It was extra special to see it right in front of us.”

Weeks later, the junior naturalists beheld a huge nest. “It was exciting,” recalls fellow teacher Becky Page. “We decided to keep an eye on things. All through winter, the children looked forward to visiting what we called ‘our eagles.’ One day in spring, we heard a new little sound from the nest. We realized it was a hungry baby.”

The snowy-crowned parents began supplying the nest with fish from the river. Eventually, bystanders saw a fluffy head rise to welcome deliveries. “One of the children named him ‘Peekaboo,’ explained teacher Pagan. “We all started calling him that.” When a second baby crested, the teachers asked their classes to volunteer another name. Poppy was the final choice; evoking flower-lined river trails and the magic of a wee head popping above the nest. Delighted by Facebook reports, raptor lovers world-wide soon adopted the names. By pure serendipity, the kindergartners also nailed eaglet genders. Peekaboo, they decided, was a boy and Poppy his little sister. Beak shape – a text-book sex identifier  – eventually proved truth had come from the mouths of babes.

Federal law protects bald eagles. As the chicks grew, the school party and other trail users were soon warned against lingering near the raptors’ nest tree. Cordons went up and Park Rangers cautioned visitors. “We were still able to do our walks,” explains teacher Page.  “The children were reverend. They used their whisper-voices near the nest. They knew to respect the eagle family’s space. We could see Peekaboo and Poppy when they began to flap their wings. Then we saw one of them on a branch. One day, we saw there was only one baby left.”

Alpha chick Peekaboo fledged first. A week later, his sister flew the coop. For weeks, their dutiful parents continued food deliveries in and near the nesting tree. In summer, the juveniles began hunting on their own. By fall, they had found territory downriver. “The children were concerned about where Peek and Poppy were,” says teacher Pagan. “We encouraged them to use their imagination.”

The teachers consider the five and six-year-olds’ eagle encounter has blessed them with extra wildlife appreciation. “We hope this experience helps them grow into people who protect nature,” says Tavia Pagan. “We protect what we love. And we only love what we experience.”

Sac Choral Society

Operation Gobble Provides for Others

Special from Golden State Water  |  2017-11-22

There were 16 different support organizations that received turkeys from Operation Gobble. Photo by Paul Scholl

Rancho Cordova, CA (MPG) - California State Assembly Member Ken Cooley and two water companies serving his district – Golden State Water Company and California American Water – provided 450 turkeys with a combined weight of more than two tons to local non-profits as part of the 27th annual “Operation Gobble” program.  The turkeys were distributed at his district office on Tuesday, Nov. 21, to approximately 21 organizations including the St. John’s Homeless Shelter, the North Highlands Community Church and the Rancho Cordova Food Closet.

“Operation Gobble” is a charitable joint-venture between California water companies and elected officials and is set to deliver thousands of turkeys to families and individuals with limited resources throughout the state this Thanksgiving holiday.  The unique program, which started in 1990, pairs the local knowledge of elected officials with the resources of the private sector to benefit those in need.

During the program, participating investor-owned water companies like California American Water and Golden State Water provide turkeys and transportation in partnership with local elected officials who offer local expertise in directing the donations to community food banks, churches and other non-profit organizations.  This year, Save Mart Supermarkets is providing the turkeys at their cost to help reach even more families.

“The dedicated local employees of California American Water and Golden State Water work hard to provide a high quality and reliable water supply to thousands of homes and businesses in the greater the Sacramento region,” said Paul Schubert, Northern General Manager for Golden State Water.  “Operation Gobble has become an important part of the holiday season for all of our employees, providing us the opportunity support our customers, our neighbors and our families.

Millions of Californians lack sufficient resources to feed themselves on a regular basis.  Many of these residents are low-income families that will not be able to afford a Thanksgiving meal.

“Golden State Water, California American Water, Assembly Member Cooley and our non-profit partners are proud to be a part of this effort, which makes the Thanksgiving holiday a little brighter for our neighbors in need,” said Evan Jacobs, the External Affairs Manager for California American Water.

Source: Golden State Water Media

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Sacramento, CA (MPG) - On November 19, 2017, at approximately 0220 hours, the driver of a 2007 Honda Accord was driving westbound on US-50 approaching Mather Field Road in an unknown lane, reportedly racing another vehicle at high speed.  The driver of the Honda lost control, and the Honda entered the #4 lane, facing a northerly direction.  An Elk Grove resident was driving her 2015 Hyundai Santa Fe in the #4 lane when the front of the Hyundai struck the right side of the Honda.  The right front passenger in the Honda was killed upon impact.  At an unknown point during the incident, the driver of the Honda was ejected into the #2 lane, where he was struck by a BMW 328 from Manteca.

The occupants of the Honda have not been positively identified.  It is unknown if the Honda's occupants were wearing their seat belts prior to the initial collision.  Evidence at the scene indicated alcohol and/or drug use may have contributed to this collision.

This is an ongoing investigation.  If you have any information regarding this incident, please contact the California Highway Patrol's East Sacramento Area Office at (916) 464-1450.

Source: CHP Media

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Fair Oaks, CA (MPG) - Many small businesses have a great story to tell. Some of those stories are told by their loyal customers. Now is your chance to have your customers vote for you as their favorite business in the Best of Fair Oaks.

Businesses can promote the vote at their stores, through their social media contacts or other means to get people to cast their votes to win. The award winners are voted on by Chamber members, Fair Oaks citizens and readers of the American River Messenger newspaper. Votes are accepted via email and tabulated by the American River Messenger staff. An impressive 442 different businesses received votes last year.

The rules are simple. Businesses must be located in the Fair Oaks zip code 95628, or must be a member of the Fair Oaks Chamber of Commerce to be recognized as “The Best”.

Why should you get your tickets to this year’s event? “It was an evening of anticipation, elegance and surprise. I believe that recognition is the key to success. Winners were from all over Fair Oaks and in all types of business. Some were Chamber members and others were not, that's what made this event spectacular. The Fair Oaks Chamber of Commerce is about serving, representing and enhancing business growth and success in the Fair Oaks community and this is exactly what we did this evening,” said Kimberley Pitillo, Fair Oaks Chamber of Commerce Executive Director at last year’s Best of Fair Oaks event. 

There can only be one vote per category per person. You may return to the web site to vote for different categories at a later time, but you may not vote more than once for any one category. You do not need to vote for all categories for your vote to count. All votes must be received no later than December 31st, 2017 at 5:00 pm.

Votes can only be made by completing the online form at All voting entries must have voter’s completed information or the votes will not be counted.

This year's event will be held at the North Ridge Country Club in Fair Oaks. The event is scheduled for January 25th, 2018 from 5:30 - 7:30pm. Get your tickets and enjoy the evening in your favorite cocktail or business attire. Come and enjoy some great food, great fun, and great recognition of the best businesses in the community.

To buy tickets contact the Fair Oaks Chamber of Commerce at 916-967-2903 or go to

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Co-Housing Project Breaks Ground in Fair Oaks

By Jacqueline Fox  |  2017-11-19

From left to right, Katherine McCamant, founder of CoHousing Solutions, Richard Rozumowicz, civil engineer, Charles Durrett, architect, Marty Maskall, future resident and leading organizer of the project, Darryl Berlin, construction project manager, and Rachel Bardis and Katherine Bardis of Bardis Homes.  Photo by Louise Mitchell, courtesy EcoHousing

Fair Oaks, CA (MPG) - Following two years of planning, site tours, pot lucks, workshops and even wine tastings to celebrate baby steps taken along the way, the first shovel of dirt has been dug for a planned cohousing project with units sold on the promise of a “Family-friendly Green Neighborhood” for New York Avenue.

Future residents, of the Fair Oaks EcoHousing development, alongside individuals hoping to build something similar in other parts of Sacramento County, as well as construction and development representatives for the project, and the leading figures in its development and execution got a break in the rain long enough to snap a group photo in front of the 3.7-acre development site Nov. 3.  Then they walked over, together, to Smokey Oaks Tavern on nearby Fair Oaks Boulevard for an official reception and speeches.

“I was thrilled to see how many people joined us for the groundbreaking,” said future Fair Oaks EcoHousing resident and founder, Marty Maskall, who has been working to get the concept for the project from her mind, on to paper and to this point for most of the last decade.  “Supervisor Susan Peters (who attended the event) complimented the future residents on our persistence to pursue our vision.  I can't wait until the homes are built and we can move in.”

That is slated to happen sometime in spring of 2019.  Meanwhile, the Fair Oaks EcoHousing project has been endorsed by the Environmental Council of Sacramento (ECOS), which also honored Maskall as the 2016 Environmentalist of the year.

The celebration officially kicked off construction of the 30-unit, pedestrian-friendly neighborhood that will feature private townhomes and “flats” ranging in size from two to four bedrooms and priced between the mid-$300’s and the high $600’s, solar and sustainable energy sources and other green living features.

The village in the making already has owners for all but two of the 30 homes available, a sign of just how popular the idea of cohousing has become and how quickly folks are ready to buy in.  Prices range from $300,000 to $600,000, depending on the square footage.  Owners also will pay a monthly homeowner association fee, likely between $300 and $400.”

It is estimated that, over the last 25 years, more than 160 cohousing communities have popped up nationwide Cohousing neighborhoods in the Sacramento region include Southside Park Cohousing downtown, Nevada City Cohousing in Nevada City, Wolf Creek Lodge in Grass Valley, and three communities in Davis.

“This is not a new concept,” says Kathryn McCamant, founder of Co-Housing Solutions and consultant on the Fair Oaks EcoHousing project.  Her company is considered to have pioneered the development of cohousing in North America, including Sacramento County.  “We modeled our cohousing projects initially on similar projects in Denmark that go back decades.”

She and her husband, Charles Durrett, who served as the leading architect for the Fair Oaks development, have co-authored two books on sustainable cohousing and collaborated on a number of cohousing developments.  They also live in the Nevada City Cohousing development built in 2008.

McCamant said the concept is easy to sell as it attracts like-minded, conscious-living individuals who support community spaces and ideas for co-existence. Finding the construction funding for cohousing projects, however, she said, is not as straightforward, even though funds would be largely guaranteed by multiple mortgage payments, in this case, 30, upon the selling of the final two units.

“We ended up having to go all the way down to San Diego to Torrey Pines bank to get a loan approved for the Fair Oaks CoHousing project,” said McCamant.  “We just couldn’t get lenders to understand, let alone support the concept.”

That concept involves a place where residents share communal ethos and commit to a lifestyle that balances independent living with shared experiences.  Residents can cook and share meals together, participate in group events and outdoor activities and nurture the spirit of communal living as they see fit.  Tossing a wave to a neighbor three times a year while getting the morning paper, however, won’t cut it.

“Garage door communities, where people pull up at night, put their cars away and never go anywhere else in the neighborhood is not working so well,” said Durrett.  “Cohousing affords an opportunity for shared living experiences using open, shared living spaces.  They aren’t meant for someone who wants to isolate.”

Fair Oaks EcoHousing will offer 3.7 acres of outdoor living and play space, a community pool, spa, workshop, dining and entertaining facilities, a lounge, kids’ playroom, designated space for yoga and music, and two guest bedrooms for extra accommodations.

Some of the future Fair Oaks EcoHousing residents who attended the groundbreaking ceremony were not shy in expressing how long and sometimes difficult the process of getting from concept to construction has been.  The shoveling of that first mound of dirt, they said, was significant on many levels, as it represented the first tangible move toward moving day.

"I feel as though we have somehow emerged as victors after a sustained battle with numerous obstacles,” said Anne Birchfield of Sacramento and a co-founder of the project.  “I am optimistic about all of our futures.”

Obstacles aside, Fair Oaks EcoHousing already is being used as a model for other groups hoping to form a cohousing development. 

“What an exciting day to see all of you there with your shovels, spades and smiles,” said Anne Geraghty, who is building a coalition to support development of the Washington House Cohousing project in west Sacramento. “We are looking forward to following in your footsteps.  Thanks for leading the way.”

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Mercey Springs Receives Donation

By MPG Staff  |  2017-11-19

Receiving the donation are (L to R) MSF representatives Brenda Kress, Julianne Miller, Mary Howard; and Roselyn Barbray, Taste of Fair Oaks Committee. Photo by Paul Scholl

Fair Oaks, CA (MPG) - Representatives from Mercey Springs Foundation (MSF) recently attended the Fair Oaks Chamber of Commerce (FOCC) luncheon, and were quite elated to receive a check from the chamber close to $3,400. For several years now, MSF has partnered with the Chamber and assisted with planning and supporting the annual Taste of Fair Oaks event.  In return, the Chamber shares a portion of their proceeds with this non-profit organization.

Established in 2004 to serve Sacramento and its surrounding communities, MSF is all about creating bridges between organizations and people.  Part of their mission is to support other charities through financial contributions, volunteerism and raising awareness of the good work being done in our communities.  Their philosophy is that “we are not here to compete with other charities, but rather to partner with them”.

MSF’s commitment is to give back to the Fair Oaks community whenever possible.  This has been achieved through grants and other donations provided to charitable organizations in the Fair Oaks area like About Kidz, the Orangevale Food Bank, and Robinhooding for the Homeless.  MSF will also be supporting, Share the Spirit, which is put on by the Fair Oaks Youth Advisory Board during the holidays, and provides gifts and food to underprivileged families of Fair Oaks.

To learn more about MSF, visit their website at, or their Facebook page.

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Guiding Veterans in Tough Times

Story and photos by Jacqueline Fox  |  2017-11-19

Aging With Dignity is hosted by Ed Outland, live, Saturday on KTKZ (1380 am) from 1 to 2 p.m. and also on KSAC (105.5 fm). Photo courtesy Ed Outland.

Sacramento Region, CA (MPG) - Ed Outland is not a veteran.  As a young man, however, he planned to serve his country, as did his father, a career serviceman.  But those hopes were dashed when he developed an illness that disqualified him for enlistment.

“I was drafted in 1969 and I wanted to be a pilot,” says Outland, founder and CEO of Family Heritage Group, LLC in Fair Oaks.  “I found out I had a form of spina bifida and that was it. I didn’t get to go.”

Flash forward several decades (and careers) later and Outland, 71, heads up a company offering financial estate planning and related services for individuals and their family members.  He’s found a circuitous but important way to serve his country by providing pro-bono financial services to aging, sick and injured veterans to ensure they receive, at minimum, access to a little known government entitlement benefit that a vast majority of his clients don’t even know they qualify for.

Sure, Outland has to keep the lights on, so his core company, which currently carries a portfolio of roughly $11 million, centers on financial and estate planning services for the elderly, helping them navigate the wildly complicated qualification process for Medi-Cal benefits, the state’s Medicade program for low-income individuals, and guiding clients on the purchase of life insurance, annuities and other investment and retirement vehicles.

But Heritage Group has a niche market serving veterans with critical medical issues, ensuring they and or their spouses receive assistance through the Aid & Attendance program (A&A) offered through the US Dept. Of Veteran’s Affairs (VA).  The benefit, which can be combined with social security and Medi-Cal, can be used to pay for non-service related medical expenses, including long-term care fees and other expenses due to a catastrophic illness.

Outland does not charge for helping veterans get this benefit.  For those veterans who may have assets exceeding qualifying levels, Outland works with them to redirect their assets in order to meet the requirements.

“Roughly 96 percent of the financial services and catastrophic illness planning we do with veterans is pro-bono work,” says Outland.  “We help them or, if need be, the spouse, apply for the A&A benefit so they can deal with medical expenses with dignity and not have to go broke doing it.”

There are fewer and fewer financial advisors willing to dive into the tangled web of entitlement benefits, according to Outland, who has been working with veterans for about 11 years.  Over that period, he’s established good relationships with the skilled nursing facility community, working with staff and ensuring residents are signed up for and receiving the full range of government entitlements needed to pay for their care and board.

 “This work is not for the weak willed or faint of heart,” says Outland.  “Believe me, the VA doesn’t like us very much.”

To qualify, a veteran must have served at least 90 days of active duty with one day during a time of war and a clean discharge from service between Dec. 7, 1941 and Dec. 31, 1946 for WWII; June 27, 1950 to Jan. 31, 1955 for the Korean Conflict, and between Aug. 5, 1964 to May 7, 1975 for the Vietnam War.  Veterans with at least two years of active duty service during the Persian Gulf War from Sept. 2, 1990 up to present day, also qualify.

While most of his VA pro-bono clients do not have much money saved, Outland works to help all who apply for the A&A benefit to qualify.  The VA stipulates applicants can have only a maximum $30,000 in assets if single, $50,000 if married.

But for most, the A&A benefit represents the last option for financial aid to cover medical care costs.  Few have wealth management portfolios to break apart and redirect.

“Many of our veterans come in the door with $50 in their savings accounts,” says Outland.  “Getting these benefits is life-changing for them.”

Part of Outland’s work with others also involves dispelling myths, the biggest one being that if you have money you can’t qualify for Medi-Cal.  And that myth is widely prevalent among a good majority of WWII veterans and their family members who are struggling to balance paying for medical care without depleting their assets and robbing their children of an inheritance.

“The greatest generation of veterans is dying off,” says Outland.  “So our job is to make sure that the $10 trillion that roughly comprises their total wealth is passed on to their families and not sucked up by the ever-increasing costs of long-term medical care and expenses.”’

Outland said of the roughly 16 million veterans who served in WWII there are roughly 750,000 still living.  He estimates there also are roughly 2.5 million WWII widows still living who are entitled to the benefit and can apply for it.  They just need to know it’s there.

“That’s a lot of veterans and widows out there and most of them don’t have a clue the benefit is there for them,” Outland says.

Receiving the Aid & Assistance benefit has made it possible for veterans from all backgrounds to fill the gap between Medi-Cal coverage, Social Security and pension payments and costs of long-term care, among other things, which amounts to an average of close to $7,000 a month in many places.  As of January 2015, a veteran and spouse could qualify for as much as $2,126 a month through the program.  The A&A benefit for single veterans is currently set at $1,794 a month, and for surviving spouses the benefit is $1,156 a month. 

“It truly can mean that someone can age with dignity in a good facility and pay for it without having to lose everything they’ve spent their lives saving up,” Outland said.

Outland also has an hour-long, weekend radio program offering listeners financial and estate planning guidance, He’s successfully parlaying a long, first career in radio advertising sales and station management into a passion helping people manage their money, preserve their family’s wealth and plan for the future.

“I’m self-taught,” said Outland.  “I got tired of doing radio sales day in and day out.  I have been doing this for 28 years now and I guess you could say it really is a second career.”

Outland said when he “discovered” the Aid & Assistance benefit was available there were reportedly roughly 400 recipients in the Sacramento County region signed up for and receiving it.  As of January of this year, he estimated his firm had successfully completed roughly 6,000 A&A cases for veterans. 

“It was like the sky opened up,” Outland said.  “We’ve got to get the word out there that these benefits are available.”

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Lyon Real Estate of Fair Oaks Gives $5,000 Grant to Alzheimer’s Association

By Cathy Harrington  |  2017-11-19

Local Lyon Real Estate agents and staff gather with staff from the Alzheimer’s Association to offer the grant. Photo courtesy Lyon Real Estate

Fair Oaks, CA (MPG) - The Lyon Cares Foundation announced today that Alzheimer’s Association is the recipient of a $5,000 grant. Their mission is to eliminate Alzheimer’s disease through the advancement of research, to provide and enhance care and support for all affected, and to reduce the risk of dementia through the promotion of brain health. 

Operated by Lyon Real Estate, the Lyon Cares Foundation offers time, talent, and treasure to local nonprofits that make their communities a better place. Funds are raised through escrow and payroll contributions by Lyon agents and staff in addition to Lyon’s annual Golf Tournament.

“The donation that was given by Lyon will be used to continue our mission to eliminate Alzheimer’s disease,” said Denise Davis, Program Coordinator for Alzheimer’s Association. “We are so grateful for this wonderful and generous donation.”    

“It gives us great pride to give this grant to Alzheimer’s Association,” said Lyon Real Estate president Pat Shea. “They are doing very important work.”

In 2017, each of Lyon’s 14 offices, in addition to their headquarters office will be giving two $5,000 grants to organizations of their choice, totaling $150,000. Lyon’s Fair Oaks chose Alzheimer’s Assocation to be the recipient of their grant. 

The Lyon Cares Foundation provides time, talent, and treasure to local nonprofits that make their communities a better place. Our partner in giving is the Sacramento Region Community Foundation. In 2016, Lyon Cares gave grants totaling $80,000 to 15 organizations in the Greater Sacramento Area and will be giving grants totaling $150,000 in 2017.

Source: Lyon Real Estate

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A True Hero and Survivor

By Elise Spleiss     |  2017-11-19

Okinawa survivor Bob Mellor proudly displays his Navy photo, his Navy uniform and the American Campaign, Asiatic Pacific Campaign and World War II medals he earned during his service in the Battle of Okinawa. Photo by Elise Spleiss

Battle of Okinawa Survivor Part of Final Battle of World War II

Sacramento Region, CA (MPG) - At the age of 20, Bob (Junior) Mellor, had no way of knowing he was soon to be part of what would be known as ‘history’s greatest conflict on land and sea’, the Battle of Okinawa, also known as Operation Iceberg. Many who unknowingly become a part of history in the making often just see it as part of the job. It is no different for Bob Mellor, now 92.

His patriotic T-shirts and original Navy uniforms hanging in his closet, the glass case full of photos and other service memorabilia are silent reminders of his service while his extensive collection of World War II and other combat movies bring those days back to life for him. And Bob loves to proudly talk about those days to any fortunate enough to hear his stories.

Bob joined the U.S. Navy on October 6, 1944 in San Francisco. He took a train to San Diego Naval Training Center where he completed his basic training as a Seaman Apprentice Class on December 28, 1944. The same day he was transferred to Landing Craft School where he graduated three months later on March 6, 1945.

During his training Bob took a leave to visit his older brother, Ray Mellor whose ship, the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Fanshaw Bay, had come in for repairs following a Japanese attack that had burned the flight deck. While on board Ray, a Gunner’s Mate on the ship, showed his brother the 5-inch anti-aircraft guns where he worked. Ray survived the war, thanks to the metal case covering his Bible when he took shrapnel to the chest during the Battle of Leyte Gulf in the Philippines.

Upon completion of Landing Craft School Bob Mellor was transferred to the West Pacific where he was trained to drive a 30-foot Landing Craft Mechanized (LCM) boat. He was immediately made a cockswain, in charge of the ship and its crew, and trained in the Pacific Ocean in 15 to 20-foot breakers. Mellor said he liked the training and “found it no harder than plowing a straight furrow” back home on his family’s 156-acre ranch in Delhi, California.

During his three-month training in preparation for the invasion of Okinawa, Mellor brought in supplies, hauled liberty parties and took sailor transfers to other ships on the high seas. He participated in a week-long shake-down cruise and amphibious landing off Catalina Island before boarding a Landing Craft Infantry (LCI) headed for Pearl Harbor where he trained in all the sea channels driving a landing craft.

On March 17, 1945 Mellor was assigned to LSM 424 (Landing Ship, Medium) and was sent to the south islands in the Pacific where he joined a larger fleet of landing craft and mine sweepers. At 203 feet-long, his ship resembled a small aircraft carrier and carried over 100 guns, mortars and rockets of various sizes.  Mellor’s ship was part of the fleet that by the end of March would number 1,300 headed to the invasion of Okinawa. Only 325 miles from Japan, Okinawa was the last stronghold to defeat before reaching Japan.

Finally, on April 1, 1945 the U.S. and allied forces invaded Okinawa. Mellor and his men landed in Buckner Bay. By the end of the day, it had become the largest amphibious landing in the Pacific theater of World War II with 50,000 troops landing.

One of the pilots flying from the carrier U.S.S. San Jacinto was a young pilot by the name of George H.W. Bush. Bush and other pilots conducted bombing raids in their TBM Avengers to clear the way for Mellor and other landing crafts to land safely on Okinawa. However, attempting to prevent U.S. and Allied landings was the Imperial Japanese ‘super-battleship” Yamato, along with its fleet of Japanese aircraft carriers and destroyers. 

Mellor recalls that just after his ship had unloaded its pontoons and hardware for the floating docks, they were attacked briefly in a kamikaze attack by a Japanese Zero fighter plane. He and his men survived that attack and with the equipment provided, three U.S. Army and three U.S. Marine Corps divisions aided in the successful completion of the assault on Okinawa.

On April 7, 1945 the Yamato, the largest battleship in the world at 80,000-tons was sunk by the Avengers after 10 torpedo hits. The Yamato had been the former flagship of Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, mastermind of the Pearl Harbor attack.

The war ended on June 22, 1945 but Mellor had one more assignment to complete. On June 26, Mellor took his LSM 424 to the north end of Okinawa and picked up U.S. Marines from the 1st Marine Division at Hedo, and transported them to the North China Sea where they boarded 40 ships to go home. 

More than 12,000 American servicemen were killed at Okinawa and over 38,000 wounded or missing. Japan lost 100,000 men, plus a loss of up to 150,000 civilian Okinawans.

Mellor continued his life following his Navy days with his high school sweetheart, Elma Louise Voyles. They married in 1946, following his discharge from the Navy and her graduation with honors from Livingston High School in Livingston, California. Their first home was a chicken house in the backyard of Clint Lovelady’s Ranch in Delhi, California. They converted the chicken house into their home of one year, then moved to a farm in Delhi where Bob work full-time plowing fields and milking the cows. Their toilet was an outhouse.

In 1950 Mellor took a job at McClellan Air Force Base in Sacramento where he worked for 34 years before retiring as a “Scheduler’ for airplane repairs.

The Mellor’s had four children, three adopted over a span of fifteen years. After two children, they upsized from their home in North Highlands to 5-acres in Fair Oaks. After 54 years of marriage, Elma passed away in 2000.

Mellor now lives with his daughter, Lynne at her home in Roseville. He spends much of his time watching his extensive collection of WWII movies and other classics dating back to the 1930’s.               

He enjoys his pastime, especially as, referring to his waning memory, each time he watches a favorite movie like Midway or Flying Tigers, it’s like watching it for the first time.

As the number of our surviving World War II veterans are rapidly dwindling, our younger generations are either never studied or are forgetting their sacrifices. Stories like these are a memorial to the thousands of people who worked, fought and died to preserve our way of life today. They cannot be forgotten.

Sources: Mellor Family History by Dr. Dennis L. Mellor

The Collings Foundation; World War II Day by Day by Antony Shaw

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Saluting All Those Who Served

Story and pictures by Susan Maxwell Skinner  |  2017-11-19

Senator Jim Nielsen joins a salute by Rancho Cordova High School ROTC Cadets. Photo by Susan Maxwell Skinner

Veterans and Community Stand for the Flag

Sacramento County, CA (MPG) - “Too many people, regard freedom as an entitlement,” Senator Jim Nielsen told a weekend Veterans Day audience, “It’s not an entitlement, it’s an obligation – an obligation to serve. There are those who disparage our flag and our pledge. We need to stand up and say no to that. Thousands of soldiers died so that flag would not touch the ground. Renewing our patriotism is a good thing; for we are a great nation.”

The Fourth District representative was speaking at Veteran’s Medical Center. Nearly 500 Sacramento County veterans and supporters attended the gathering held at former Mather Field Air Force base.

This year’s event theme was “From Argonne to Afghanistan.” The two locations represent a century of American military effort. An allied offensive at Argonne Forest (France) spanned less than two months and ended WW1. Now in its 16th year with no end in sight, the Afghan war is recognized as America’s longest conflict.

At the Mather event, Marion D. Smith and Bob Burns -- 90 and 91 years old respectively -- grasped weathered hands as two of the few WW II survivors. From 1945 t0 46, Smith was a radar specialist on the USS Livermore. He later served the Army Reserves. Bob Burns extended his WW II Army career during Korean and Vietnamese theaters.

The stalwarts were joined by 94-year-old Kiyo Sato, whose Japanese-American family grew strawberries at Mather in the 1930s. Sato, eight brothers and sisters and their parents were interned in Wyoming during war years. After her release, the eldest daughter achieved a college degree, nursing qualifications and eventually reached the rank of Captain in the US Air Force.

“I was born here,” says the Rosemont resident. “I feel the same emotion about America as any citizen.  I will never stop working for this country to again be a beacon of hope.”

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