INCREDIBLE REUNIONS + HOMECOMINGS
Excerpts from some published favorites.
A handful of hours after the story posted on fresnobee.com, Lopez sent Martinez an email titled, "you found me."
The start of his note:
" … and it's not Al, it's Fred.
"I survived and have a great life.
"Martinez, I’ve never forgotten you. Do you remember Sgt Nitscke, Nakamura, Smitty, Mo-tee, Jenkins, and Lt Louie? Now you know it’s me."
So she told Dow who she suspected was her biological father, a man named Doug Davidian from Fresno. She said he had a beard, a light blue van, and was on a road trip across the U.S. when they met in Kansas City, Missouri, in 1971.
Dow searched for Davidian online and found his LinkedIn profile within minutes, which showed he worked as the sales and marketing administrator at Total Care Medical Group.
It was already evening so she waited until the morning to call his Fresno office. Davidian answered the phone.
The start of that exchange, as Dow recalls it:
"Hi Doug, do you have a minute?"
"Well good, my name is Tiffany. Have you ever been to Missouri?'"
Rick Freund was driving home from watching car races one late summer night in 1971 when he spotted a section of sky brightly illuminated by what had to be fire. Driving towards the light, the 24-year-old discovered a Fresno home engulfed in flames, three little girls in nightgowns standing on their front lawn gaping at the catastrophe, and their mother wailing, “My baby! My baby! Where is my baby?”
The sand above where Waltz’s remains were unearthed tells a sad story.
Digging into it, the first layer reveals buried trash, LeHew said. Deeper, it’s crushed coral, used by the U.S. military in the 1940s to make an airstrip during World War II. And below that, it’s black soil, scorched during the Battle of Tarawa, when Waltz was killed. The island was on fire for 76 hours in November of 1943, LeHew said.
“Then under that is the most beautiful, pristine white sand you’ve ever seen in your life,” LeHew continued, “and that’s where all the Marines are at, and undisturbed.”
After the ceremony, native elders Bill Tucker and Charles Castro reminisced happily together, pointing out where cabins once stood and grinding holes on boulders where their families pounded acorns and plants for cooking.
But the jolliness quickly turned to tears as Castro paused to think about the significance of the day for his family and future generations.
Vernett "Sis" Calhoun, a Wahhoga Committee member, called Wahhoga's return a "dream come true."
Yosemite's native community moved to Wahhoga after another Yosemite Valley village was destroyed in 1928 to make way for a medical clinic.
"And they were moved and mistreated long after that," Reynolds said, recalling other housing that people called "Army Row" when he was a kid.
"There were many, many efforts, sometimes on deaf ears from our side, to give back the village to native people," Reynolds said.
A group of frogs and humans gathered in a Yosemite Valley meadow on a blue-skied spring day before the backdrop of thundering Yosemite Falls.
The frogs likely didn’t know this was a huge historic afternoon, as Yosemite National Park spokesman Scott Gediman called it, but they could sense pond water nearby while awaiting their release from plastic Ziploc containers, noted Rob Grasso, a park aquatic ecologist.
It had been a long journey from San Francisco, where the federally threatened California red-legged frogs were reared.