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Local veterans honored by Library of Congress
Sandy Placencia
Sandy Placencia is one of 12 local veterans whose personal history interviews are now part of the Library of Congress' Veterans History Project. - photo by Photo Contributed

Three Turlock veterans now have a place in history after Congressman Jeff Denham presented video interviews with them and other Central Valley war heroes to Librarian of Congress Dr. Carla Hayden earlier this month, officially becoming a part of the Library of Congress Veterans History Project.

The Veterans History Project, created through an act of Congress in 2000, invites veterans from conflicts ranging from World War I to the Iraq war to share their story through audio or visual interviews, memoirs or photographic documentation for archival with the Library of Congress.

Denham and his staff have recorded stories from 12 Central Valley veterans, shared on Denham’s Facebook, Instagram and YouTube pages as part of his Thank-a-Vet Thursday initiative. Along with nine other veterans, Turlock natives Sandy Placencia, Mike Seward and Al Menshew were able to share their stories with Denham.

A former Navy Seaman, Placencia, who joined the military at age 17, served two tours aboard the USS John C. Stennis aircraft carrier in the Persian Gulf as an Air Launched Weapons Technician in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. For her service she was awarded the National Defense Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Navy Sea Service Deployment Ribbon, Navy Pistol Marksmanship Ribbon and Navy Good Conduct Medal.

“I worked on a lot of the standard bombs where you just kind of add the fuse, you add the tail and you send it up,” Placencia shared during her Thank-a-Vet Thursday interview. “When we got rockets, our ship was the first ship to be allowed to build up rockets in a long time.”

Rear Admiral Michael Seward is a native of San Joaquin Valley. He graduated from the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in 1978 and went on to serve in Operation Desert Shield and Operation Desert Storm in Saudi Arabia, Operation Restore Hope in Somalia, and Operation Noble Eagle in the Coast Guard Pacific Area. He has been awarded the Meritorious Service Medal, the Coast Guard Commendation Medal, the Department of Transportation 9-11 Medal, the Coast Guard Achievement Medal, and the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal. He has also earned the Port Security and Cutterman Breast Insignia, and continues to serve his country as the Veterans of Foreign Wars, or VFW, District 13 Commander in Turlock.

Seward shared with Denham the story of when he got the call to go to war in Somalia.

“He said…’They want you to go to Somalia,’” said Seward. “Less than four hours later, haircut, kissed the kids and wife goodbye…about 36 hours after the call I was in a C-130 standing in the cockpit.”

Al Menshew enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1948 at age 17. He served two tours in Korea as a storekeeper aboard the U.S.S. Badoeng Strait and the U.S.S. Jenkins respectively, taking part in the Inchon Invasion and Pusan Perimeter campaign among others. He was awarded the Congressional Unit Citation, Korean Presidential Unit Citation, Good Conduct Medal, American Defense Medal, Korean United Nations Medal, American Korean Conflict Medal with four combat stars, and China Service Medal.

“These proud veterans have shared their patriotic stories with the rest of the world. They are a reminder to a grateful nation that promises made to our veterans must be kept,” said Denham. “Veteran health care, education and work opportunities are just a few of the issues that Congress must continue to focus on.”