Gardena, CA
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Articles by Christopher J. Lynch

On April 26, the City Council in Gardena voted to offer the job of city manager to its long-standing Chief of Police, Ed Medrano. The vote to offer Medrano this top job in the city was not a unanimous one – but it should have been.

Medrano has served our community tirelessly and with an abundance of competence since he was first hired as a police cadet in Gardena at the age of 18. After serving our country in the United States Marine Corp, he returned to Gardena, applied, and was accepted as a police officer.

Former Marine James

McCarthy in spotlight

 

By Christopher J. Lynch

Special Contributor

 

Without realizing it, the man in green had been working on a young James McCarthy for the better part of half a decade.

“It was a poster that I had in my bedroom since I was 13 years old,” McCarthy recalls. “He was a Marine and a tough one at that, a Force-Recon guy, all covered in green camo face paint. I thought he looked cool.”

E-5, P-1 Matthew Mitchell might have just set the record for the fastest military recruitment job ever. The Port Arthur, Texas native had just left his local recruiting office after enlisting and stopped at the post office on his way home.

“I ran into a friend of mine there and when he asked me what I was up to, I told him that I had just joined the Navy, and that maybe he should to,” Mitchell says.

Louie Schwartz stood staring at the side of the refrigerator, unable to believe his eyes.

“It was my report card from El Camino College, and it was straight A’s. It was the first time in my life that my father had ever been proud enough to display it - I was twenty-three years old.”

Louie Schwartz credits his stint in the Marine Corp for changing his outlook on life, and for making him realize his full potential.

 

Not many Marine recruits have a sense of deja vu when they step off of the bus on the first day of boot camp; but then again, Rodney Gonsalves was not your average Marine.

“My father died when I was very young, and my mom was trying to raise my two younger brothers and me by herself — which was very tough. Then she found some assistance from a very unique program.”

As the artillery shells from his battery flew overhead that first night of the fire mission, the only thing that Scott Takahashi could think of was, “I’m never going to be able to sleep for an entire year.”

The easiest thing for Terry Kennedy to do would have been to head north to Canada. After all, he was born there and had plenty of relatives still living up there.

“My dad really encouraged me to do it,” Kennedy recalls. “My brother had been drafted ahead of me, and had done a tour in Viet Nam. I guess my dad really didn’t want to go through that again.”

Guy Cerda was in a deep slumber when his life changed abruptly. The 18-year-old Los Angeles native was working the night shift at a local supermarket, and was sleeping soundly when his mother shook him awake on that fateful morning in January 1970.

 

“I think you better have a look at this,” she said.

 

Cerda rubbed the sleep from his eyes and stared at the letter his mother was holding in her hand. It was from the Selective Service System; Guy Cerda was being drafted.

 

As fast and athletic as Andrew Aaron was, he couldn’t get out of the way in time. A North Korean artillery shell hit the bridge he was standing on, blowing him into the air. He landed a short distance away, sustaining injuries to his shoulder and knee; shrapnel from the shell peppered his body. It was at that moment that the young man from New Orleans realized he was a long way from home.

 

The journey had begun several years earlier, in 1948, when Andrew Aaron answered the call to serve.

 

Gardena Police Department Sgt. Rodney Gonsalves sits at his desk, reviewing an application. Besides the required contact information, it contains a brief bio, as well as some grainy photographs that were taken a long ago, in a country half-a-world away.

He sifts through the paperwork and spots the most important piece of all, a DD-214. In layman’s terms, it’s the applicant’s Honorable Discharge from the U.S. military. This soldier has passed muster.