Hometown Heroes – Martinez Tribune https://martineztribune.com The website of the Martinez Tribune. Fri, 06 Nov 2015 02:39:37 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.2.4 Martinez to pay homage to Veterans this week https://martineztribune.com/2015/11/06/martinez-to-pay-homage-to-veterans-this-week/ Fri, 06 Nov 2015 09:00:04 +0000 https://martineztribune.com/?p=2234 By DONNA BETH WEILENMAN Martinez Tribune MARTINEZ, Calif. – Contra Costa County veterans and others will be honored in Veterans Day ceremonies that begin at 10 a.m. Tuesday with the raising of the flag in front of the Contra Costa County Administration Building, 651 Pine St. Events will continue through Wednesday, including the laying of …

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By DONNA BETH WEILENMAN
Martinez Tribune

MARTINEZ, Calif. – Contra Costa County veterans and others will be honored in Veterans Day ceremonies that begin at 10 a.m. Tuesday with the raising of the flag in front of the Contra Costa County Administration Building, 651 Pine St.

Events will continue through Wednesday, including the laying of wreaths at Alhambra Cemetery and at the All Veterans Memorial at Berrellesa Street at Alhambra Avenue.

Commander Ellison Lockett of the Sidney Severns Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1351, said the flag raising on the day before Veterans Day has been an annual event for some time, and the organization tries to get its women’s detail or its honor guard as participants.

Nathan Johnson, Veterans Service officer, said about 200 veterans are expected to be honored at the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors meeting that day, also marking the 50th anniversary of the start of the Vietnam War, and the 40th anniversary of its conclusion.

The meeting starts at 9 a.m. Tuesday in the Board of Supervisors Chamber in the County Administration building.

Recognition continues at 10 a.m. Wednesday at Alhambra Cemetery, Carquinez Scenic Drive, where bapgpiper Scott Parker will play, and the Rev. Jim Anderson of First Baptist Church of Martinez will say a prayer, said Barbara Patchin, Martinez Recreation coordinator.

The U.S. Navy Sea Cadets and League Cadet Corps will raise the flag, and Cub Scouts Pack 1351 will lead the pledge to the flag, Patchin said.

Shane Bower, chairperson of the Martinez Veterans Commission, will welcome those attending, she said.

Girl Scouts Troop 33763 will lay a wreath at both the cemetery and the All Veterans Memorial, she said.

Anderson will give a benediction, and for her eighth year, Jennifer Oertel will play “Taps.”

At 11 a.m., a similar ceremony will start at the All Veterans Memorial, with Parker playing bagpipes, Anderson leading a prayer and the Sea Cadets and League Cadet Corps raising the flag, Patchin said.

Martinez Community Choir, directed by Sara Stafford, will sing the national anthem and Bower will give another address.

Mayor Rob Schroder will also speak, as will U.S. Representatives Mike Thompson and Mark DeSaulnier, Assemblymember Susan Bonilla and Contra Costa County Supervisor Federal Glover, who is sending David Fraser in his stead, she said.

Michael Underwood will give a Veterans Day message, and Veterans Commissioner Richard Philbrook will describe a remembrance. At the conclusion, members of the American Legion Post 29 and Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1351 will fire a 21 gun salute. Oertel will play “Taps.”

After the second ceremony, the public will be welcomed at the Veterans Building 930 Court St., for refreshments.

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Martinez police remember fallen sergeant https://martineztribune.com/2015/09/07/martinez-police-remember-fallen-sergeant/ Mon, 07 Sep 2015 17:51:04 +0000 https://martineztribune.com/?p=1374 By DONNA BETH WEILENMAN Martinez Tribune MARTINEZ, Calif. – The Martinez Police Department remembered the life of Sgt. Paul Starzyk Sunday morning with the raising of the American and California flags, a ceremony it has observed annually since Starzyk lost his life in the line of duty. This year, however, the two banners were lowered …

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By DONNA BETH WEILENMAN
Martinez Tribune

MARTINEZ, Calif. – The Martinez Police Department remembered the life of Sgt. Paul Starzyk Sunday morning with the raising of the American and California flags, a ceremony it has observed annually since Starzyk lost his life in the line of duty.

This year, however, the two banners were lowered to half staff in recognition of the loss of other agencies’ officers in recent weeks.

Starzyk, 47, was killed Sept. 6, 2008, when he and another Martinez officer, Ian Leong, responded to a report that an armed man had entered his estranged wife’s hair salon on Pacheco Boulevard.

The man threatened his daughter, then began searching the nearby apartment building he and his wife owned, according to an account published by the California Peace Officers’ Memorial Foundation.

The officers followed the sound of screams coming from an upstairs apartment. The man, identified as Felix Sandoval, fired a revolver from behind the door, striking Starzyk twice above his protective vest, according to the Foundation’s account.

Despite his fatal wounds, Starzyk joined Leong in returning fire on the suspect, the Foundation’s account said. Martinez Cpl. Glenn Walkup released Enzo, his German shepherd, who pulled the suspect by his legs.

When Walkup saw the man aiming his weapon at the dog, the corporal fired twice. At that point, according to a statement by then-Police Chief Tom Simonetti, “The confrontation [was] over.”

The officers found Catalina Torres, 44, dead in the apartment, but two other women and three children survived the encounter.

But Starzyk, a 12-year veteran of the Martinez Police Department, died of his wounds. At his funeral five days later, friends spoke of his humor and his leadership. More than 3,500 attended. Starzyk left a wife and three children.

Sgt. Steve Gaul, Captain Patrick Salamid and Officer Mike Lincoln of the Martinez Police Department raise an American flag Sunday, Sept. 6, 2015, to honor the memory of Sgt. Paul Starzyk.
Sgt. Steve Gaul, Captain Patrick Salamid and Officer Mike Lincoln of the Martinez Police Department raise an American flag Sunday, Sept. 6, 2015, to honor the memory of Sgt. Paul Starzyk. (DONNA BETH WEILENMAN / Martinez Tribune)

At Sunday’s memorial flag raising, the city’s new police chief, Manjit Sappal, said Starzyk “knowingly and willingly placed himself in harm’s way,” but was able to respond and fatally wound his assailant even after he himself had been shot.

“He didn’t falter. He didn’t hesitate,” Sappal said.

Praising Starzyk’s courage and valor, Sappal said his “heroic and decisive actions” saved the surviving women and children, and that the fallen officer would always be remembered.

“For me, it’s an opportunity to reflect, to honor Paul for the sacrifice he did make, even knowing that the sacrifice would be a hardship to his family,” said Starzyk’s widow, Shannon.

Some members of the public are starting to show increased support for law enforcement in recent days, reacting to the on-duty deaths of officers from several agencies.

Those include Lt. Charles Joseph Gliniewicz of Fox Lake, Ill., Police Department, who died Sept. 1 after saying he was looking into something suspicious, and a Harris County, Texas, deputy, Darren Goforth, who was shot multiple times Aug. 28 as he fueled his patrol car. Police departments across the nation have lowered their flags to honor them.

But for Shannon Starzyk, Martinez residents have been lifting her up since 2008.

“They have supported me from the time it happened to the present,” she said. “The community has supported me and the family.”

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