Santa Paula Times

Mercer-Prieto VFW Post 2043 honorary members represent all wars

November 18, 2011
Santa Paula News

Santa Paula’s Mercer-Prieto VFW Post 2043 has a large roster of honorary members, 84 to be exact, a touching tribute to those lost in war.

VFW Adjutant/Quartermaster Richard Ruiz said at Friday’s Veterans Day Observance at Veterans Memorial Park that the local post, one of the most active in Ventura County, is loyal to those who sacrificed all for their country. And that includes bending the rules for them.

Ruiz said the national Veterans of Foreign War organization has a ban on honorary memberships, and he noted that the Veterans Memorial lists the names of all Santa Paulans lost in World War I, World War II, the Korean War and Vietnam.

In all there are 84 Santa Paulans who made the ultimate sacrifice, including siblings Henrietta Mercer and Herbert Mercer and Isabel Prieto and Ramon Prieto. Their World War II deaths were commemorated when the name of the Santa Paula VFW Post was selected. 

In World War II alone, 46 Santa Paulans never returned home. In World I eight were lost, 17 in the Korean War and 13 in Vietnam.

“I am sure if these listed on the memorial had been with us they would have joined our VFW Post,” said Ruiz. So, although there is a ban from the national organization on having honorary post memberships, Ruiz said those generations of Santa Paulans lost in war are honorary members of Mercer-Prieto VFW Post 2043. Following the announcement, Ruiz called the name of each listed on the monument and Rey Frutos of the VFW called out “Here!” in reply to each. 

The Veterans of Foreign Wars has its roots in 1899 when veterans of the Spanish-American War (1898) and the Philippine Insurrection (1899-1902) founded local organizations to secure rights and benefits for their service. Many returned home wounded or sick, only to find they were on their own as there was no medical care or veterans’ pension for them.

The mission of the VFW is to foster camaraderie among United States veterans of overseas conflicts, “to serve our veterans, the military, and our communities,” and to advocate on behalf of all veterans. The organization’s vision is “To ensure that veterans are respected for their service, always receive their earned entitlements, and are recognized for the sacrifices they and their loved ones have made on behalf of this great country.”

The core values of the VFW is to always put the interests of the members first, treat donors as partners, promote patriotism, honor military service, ensure the care of veterans and their families, serve the communities and promote a positive image of the VFW. The VFW also believes that the diversity of veterans’ opinions must always be respected.