By Ryan Hagen
Joe Ybarra will always remember May 10.
U.S Army Sgt. First Class Chad Bliss says a few words before awarding Army Veteran Joe L. Ybarra of Colton, with the Silver Star medal for his service in the Vietnam War, during a hometown hero banner ceremony in Colton Tuesday.It’s the day he was born, and it’s the day in 1969 that he and others began the Battle of Hamburger Hill, where his actions earned him the Silver Star.
JOHN VALENZUELA — STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER
And May 10, 2016 is the day 50 friends and supporters surprised Ybarra outside the Stater Bros. on Washington Street with a banner recognizing him as a “Hometown Hero.”
After months of work by his family, the celebration — which included a reception afterward with a caterer, DJ and more — wasn’t a complete surprise, said Ybarra, who arrived wearing a dress shirt and tie.
“It’s overwhelming,” Ybarra said after the ceremony. “I have a lot of family and friends I haven’t seen for years, and for them all to come today, I’m honored.”
Colton, one of many local cities to hold a “Hometown Hero” program, has put up nearly 200 of the banners since it began the program in earnest in 2013, said Deputy City Clerk Sabdi Sanchez, who manages the program.
The banners, displayed on thoroughfares, honor veterans and active-duty military personnel from the city.
Ybarra, who turned 67 Tuesday, volunteered for the paratroopers and wound up in the “Screaming Eagles” of the 101st Airborne Division.
read more here