Old buddies were vets’ champions

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORERose Parade grand marshal Rita Moreno talks New Year’s Day outfit and ‘West Side Story’ remake “Don’t forget what tomorrow is,” Bob would say. “I won’t, Bob,” I would promise. “Good,” he’d say. “So how are things going?” The city of Los Angeles made the mistake of getting on Norm and Bob’s bad side once, and City Hall never knew what hit it. Norm and Bob were talking to the son of a World War I veteran one day in 1996. The man’s father had belonged to their Van Nuys American Legion post back in 1945 – when Norm was busy fighting in Iwo Jima and Bob was fighting in the South Pacific. I figure that by now, Bob Myers has found his old buddy Norm Berney up in heaven. The two World War II vets and American Legion pals from Post 193 in Van Nuys are probably catching up on old times and plotting their next move on behalf of all veterans. They were inseparable when they were living here in the San Fernando Valley carrying on their two-man war – making sure people never forgot the veterans who didn’t make it home. Bob, who died at age 84 last week, and Norm, who passed away last year, bled red, white and blue. I could set my watch by their phone calls every year before Memorial Day, Veterans Day, Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day and POW/MIA Day. The man said his father had always wondered whatever happened to a deal his post cut with the city back in 1947. What deal? Bob asked. It turns out the post had formed a War Memorial Park Association and raised money to buy 70 acres along Van Nuys Boulevard for a memorial park dedicated to war veterans. The association turned the land over to the city of Los Angeles to build a public park, and in return, the city was to erect a big veterans memorial in the park. The city got around to opening Van Nuys-Sherman Oaks Park, but it never got around to putting up the memorial. And many of the old vets who remembered the 1947 deal had either died or moved out of the Valley. In short, the city never paid its IOU to veterans. After the man left, Bob looked at Norm and shook his head. “What do you say we go get that memorial, Norm?” he asked. And that’s exactly what they did. They spent months knocking on doors at City Hall – and getting the runaround. The city owes you a memorial? What memorial? From 1947? What are you talking about? Politicians can’t remember promises they made last week; how are they going to remember one from 50 years ago? Good luck, fellas. Bob and Norm just nodded and went back to doing what they did best: Dig in and keep fighting. They went deep into the city archives and found the transfer of land from the association to the city. And with the help of former Los Angeles City Councilman Mike Feuer, they finally got that memorial built. So the next time you’re driving by Van Nuys-Sherman Oaks Park, stop and take a look. It’s pretty impressive. And say a few words of thanks to a couple of great guys who never let us forget. A service for Bob Myers will be held at 6 p.m. Dec. 29 at Utter McKinley Mortuary, 11071 Columbus Ave., Mission Hills. He will be buried at Riverside National Cemetery. El Camino Real High School in Woodland Hills is having a “Search Party” next week for one of its own – 17-year-old Jeff Mailes. With the help of City of Hope, Jeff’s friends and teachers are searching for a bone marrow donor for the popular senior, who has been diagnosed with T-cell lymphoma. It will be held from 3 to 8 p.m. Thursday Dec. 22 at Shepard of the Valley Church, 23838 Kittridge St., West Hills. And finally, kudos to all of the members of the Northridge Seventh-day Adventist Church for adopting 11 soldiers currently serving in Iraq. “My son, Benjamin, called to tell me about one of the young men in his unit who had been there for two months without anyone writing to him,” said Irma Torres of Arleta. “I started writing to him and when the church members found out, they wanted to adopt six other soldiers – five men and one woman – who were not getting any mail or care packages from home. It’s up to 11 now and we’d like to adopt more.” If you’d like to help, give church secretary Kathy Eklund a call at (818) 349-8770. Dennis McCarthy’s column appears Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday. Dennis McCarthy, (818) 713-3749 dennis.mccarthy@dailynews.com 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more