While putting together this column on Memorial Day services – shortly after writing about last week’s veterans care home groundbreaking both before and after the event – I started to feel like I was on the armed forces beat.
I’m not, but I don’t mind writing about our veterans. As Gov. Schwarzenegger noted during the vets home groundbreaking, Shasta County has an unusually high percentage of military veterans. And there’s no doubt that Shasta County cares very deeply about those veterans. With that in mind, I expect to see good-sized turnouts for the numerous events this weekend honoring the memory of veterans.
Memorial services are set throughout the region, but the biggest may be at 5:55 p.m. on Monday, May 31, at the Northern California Veterans Cemetery in Igo. That event will feature a flyover of T-38A Talon jets from Beale Air Force Base. And here’s something that’s really cool: One of those jets will be piloted by Redding native Joshua Smith.
I spoke with Maj. Smith’s proud mother, Janice Smith, earlier this week. She recalled that even as a young boy, Joshua was fascinated with flight.
“He always wanted to fly. He used to play with all kinds of airplanes,” she recalled. “He flew remote control airplanes as a teenager.”
After graduating from Enterprise High School, Joshua earned a mechanical engineering degree from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. He then joined the Navy and realized his flight dreams. He has twice been deployed to the ongoing conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan while flying either an F3 Viking or a Prowler, according to his mother. After nearly 12 years in the Navy, Smith transferred to the Air Force earlier this year for the opportunity to pilot a U2 surveillance plane.
Now stationed at Beale Air Force Base near Marysville, Smith will fly in a four-jet formation over several Memorial Day services this weekend, including the one in Igo. Several years ago, his mother got to see him land an F3 that was on display during the Redding air show. Otherwise, she’s had little opportunity to watch her son in action.
“I haven’t seen him fly much,” she said. “I’m looking forward to getting to ride in the chase car for the U2. They use a chase car to help land the U2. I think would be cool – going down the runway at 100 mph with this huge airplane above you.”
This weekend, Janice Smith will join thousands of other people watching her son salute his fallen comrades.
There will be numerous services this weekend other than the one in Igo. Here are some of them:
• Sunday, May 30, at 11 a.m. at the Veterans Memorial Grove, adjacent to the Redding Convention Center, Redding.
• Monday, 10 a.m. Lawncrest Cemetery, 1522 E. Cypress Avenue, Redding.
• Monday, 10:30 a.m., Oak Hill Cemetery, 735 Cemetery Lane (off Walnut Street), Red Bluff.
• Monday, 10:45 a.m. Anderson Cemetery, 2500 Cemetery Lane (off Bruce Street), Anderson.
• Monday, noon, Redding Memorial Park, 1201 Continental Street, Redding.
• Park rangers at Whiskeytown National Recreation Area are offering kayak tours of the lake this Saturday, Sunday and Monday. Whether your bring your own kayak or use a loaner, you’ll need to make a reservation by calling 242-3462. Also, the Whiskeytown Visitor Center at the corner of Highway 299 and Kennedy Memorial Drive will be expanding to its summer operating schedule starting Friday. The center will be open 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. seven days a week through Labor Day.
• I mentioned a few weeks back that it’s time to register your kids for summer camp. The City of Redding has loads of summer camps and outings that your kids may still get in on. Activities range from mountain biking and lacrosse (seriously), to ballet and creating art. Our good friends at HawkMan Studios are handling the art camps. Read up on all the options by visiting http://reddingrecreation.org and clicking on “Summer Camps.”
• Memorial Day weekend is probably the biggest auto racing weekend of the year, yet for some mysterious reason Shasta Raceway Park went dark over Memorial Day weekend for a number of years. Promoter Rick Faeth changed that three years ago when he brought in a program featuring various classes of vintage race cars. The “California Vintage Nationals” returns this Saturday and Sunday, and tickets are only $6. Saturday’s program also has the modifieds, while a motorcycle stunt team is on Sunday’s bill. In addition, the kids will be racing their baby grand and mini cup cars both nights. The races do not conflict with the broadcast of Sunday’s Indy 500, and they’ll be way more fun than watching some endless stock car race from North Carolina on TV.
• I shouldn’t let the month end without mentioning that May is foster care month. The good folks at Shasta County Children’s Services agency say our community needs more people willing to take on the difficult task for foster parenting. Interested? Call Thelma Giwoff at 225-5880.
Paul Shigley is senior editor of California Planning & Development Report, a frequent contributor to Planning magazine and wishes he were back home again in Indiana. He lives in Centerville. Paul Shigley may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.