Troops’ awards honor veterans
AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREBasketball roundup: Sierra Canyon, Birmingham set to face off in tournament quarterfinals“He never takes credit but he’s always there,” master of ceremonies Lew Stoltz said. Tears came to Anderson’s eyes as he stood at the podium holding his award, a bronze eagle. “I can tell you I honestly love this community,” Anderson said. The Antelope Valley Fairgrounds dinner featured radio talk show host and newspaper columnist Larry Elder as well as Olympic gold medalist Bruce Jenner. “Sooner or later bad things will happen. Character will define how you respond to bad things,” said Elder. LANCASTER – Veterans and Boy Scouts were honored at a dinner that raised more than $50,000 for the Antelope Valley Boy Scout District. Veterans honored at the 2006 Pete Knight Memorial American Heroes Dinner included retired Navy captain Tom Craft, who led the citizen campaign to get a veterans home built in Antelope Valley; retired contractor Art Wallace, who was a Marine stretcher-bearer on Iwo Jima, and Henry “Hank” Freeman, who won a Silver Star as a World War II submariner for rescuing a downed pilot while under attack by a Japanese plane. “Heroes come in many many different forms,” dinner chairman George Passantino said. “The sacrifices they made will never be forgotten and we will be eternally thankful.” Also honored was Rancho Vista master-plan community developer R. Gregg Anderson, who received the Distinguished Citizen Award for his financial support over some 20 years for a wide range of community projects. Jenner, the 1976 Olympic decathlon winner, talked about his mental and physical preparations for the race. He described winning a spot on the 1972 Olympic team in the tryout’s last event by beating his previous alltime best in the 1,500-meter race. “That was such a powerful experience for me. That was the first time I had to reach down into my soul and see what I got. I found something I relied on the rest of my. One race, one experience, changed my life,” Jenner said. Craft received the William J. “Pete” Knight Award, presented by the late test pilot and state senator’s widow, Gail, and son, Steve. Craft spent 37 years in the Navy as an enlisted man and later as an officer. He is chairman of the citizens’ committee for the proposed Lancaster state veterans home and is an organizer of regular events called “stand-downs” that aid homeless and other needy veterans. A father of two Eagle scouts, he participates on review boards for teens trying for the Eagle rank. “He’s always ready to help,” scouter Bill Norris said. Freeman received the World War II Tribute Award. Freeman was a crewman on a submarine that surfaced to pick up a downed airman. A Japanese plane attacked, and his submarine had to dive – while Freeman shot the plane down with a machine gun, Passantino said. Freeman bobbed in the water with the pilot until the submarine came back to the surface. Wallace received the Justin Wotosik Award, named for an Eagle Scout killed in a 1998 helicopter crash while serving as an Air Force para-rescueman. The award was presented by Wotosik’s parents, Julie and Gary Wotosik. “Scouting opened the world to him and for that we are always grateful,” Julie Wotosik said. The Distinguished Scout Award went to Chris Mellinger and the Distinguished Cub Scout Award to Aidan Poole. The dinner included auctions of signed aircraft artwork, photos of sports and entertainment-figures and other items, including rides in a P-51 fighter plane and a 200 mph rocket car. The auction’s top item was a framed photograph and five baseballs signed by former presidents Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush. Anderson paid $8,000 for the photograph. The No. 2 item was an electric guitar signed by B.B. King, Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck and other famous guitar players. It was bought for $3,000 by Antelope Valley Hospital board member Dr. Abdallah Farrukh.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!