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Military Banner to Honor John F. Valera

By Michelle Caldera
Community Writer
2017-04-19 at 16:38:57
COLTON>> Images of refined and honorable military service members in uniform wave proudly amongst the many service banners within the City of Colton. Their names and branch of service are proudly displayed to honor their dedication and great service to the American people. John F. Valera is one of the many individuals who are honored, and his banner is held high, to recognize not only the honorable service he gave to his country, but the loving memories that he left behind with his family as well. Friends and family members gathered on Wednesday, March 29 on the southeast corner of 5th & N St in Colton to watch the banner get installed. Valera served in the U.S. Army for two years and was drafted for the Vietnam War on March 25, 1964. Valera was part of the second battalion, third artillery, first infantry division under Captain Ralph Reel, and was an excellent marksman with a M14 rifle. He sustained shrapnel injuries to his neck that would disable him from furthering his services in the U.S. Army. Valera was awarded the Vietnam Service Metal, the Good Conduct Medal and two Purple Hearts for the wounds he received in the War. Although recognized for his time in the war, Valera also had some hobbies that he enjoyed after he was honorably discharged from the army. He took classes at San Bernardino Valley College that allowed him to further extend his education in extracurricular activities such as welding and ceramics. He was an intelligent and resourceful man who never gave up, even after his injuries from the war. Cecilia Valera, John’s wife, said John believed in always encouraging his children and grandchildren whenever they needed some parental support. The family received news in 2002 that John had kidney cancer. By 2008, the cancer began metastasizing, and the family's immediate reaction was to enjoy the time they had with their father and grandfather by having family reunions and even throwing John and Cecilia an anniversary party. Valera passed away on Nov. 14, 2016 with cancer. “I told my family and my girls when we lost him," Cecilia said, "We have to be grateful because the Lord let us have him for 15 years, we really relished all that time with him.” Monday, April 10 would have been Cecilia and John's 40th anniversary. Cecilia said John Valera was a kind, intelligent and selfless individual who continuously gave throughout his life. He volunteered at homeless shelters such as Mary Mercy Center and San Salvador Church. The banner, which signifies not only his military accomplishments, but also his selfless acts within his community, will only serve as a fraction of well-deserved recognition for a man who gave his life for others. Belynda Reynolds, Valera's daughter, said he was a great father and grandfather who was a great example of who she wants her three sons to be like as they grow up. "He was a good example of a person and we miss him very much," Reynolds said. "There will never be anybody like him. He was a very strong man, great influence on our lives as well as our children. He really set a good example for them to follow in his footsteps." Reynolds said the banner installation was a proud moment because his banner is close to his home street and where he passed away. "I felt very proud of him in that moment when it was raised," Reynolds said. "It was a lot of pride and happy we were able to do that for him." After he passed away, Reynolds said she found her father's birth certificate that showed he was born across the street from the house he passed away in. As a lifelong resident of Colton, Reynolds said Valera would also support her sons who played in Colton Youth. "People aren't made the way they used to be," Reynolds said. "I'm glad I got to experience that and that my kids had someone to look up too, as well." John Valera is survived by his wife Cecilia; their three daughters, Belynda Reynolds, Joann Moyeda, and Brandi Valera, and eleven grandchildren.
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