What began as a simple idea to gather the names of Pleasanton residents killed in U.S. wars turned into a project that took a year and a half and involved extensive interviews, mining veterans' websites, and accessing monuments in Washington, D.C.
"I didn't want people to forget these guys," said researcher John Pecoraro, quartermaster for Pleasanton Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 6298.
He compiled his findings into a booklet, "Pleasanton's War Casualties: World War II and Beyond." His research didn't yield anyone earlier.
"My intent was that I give a copy of this to the library and one to the museum downtown to use as a reference," said Pecoraro.
He found the stories of World War II casualties from pioneer people who are still around town. Gloria Stahlnecker, who was active for years with VFW Post 6298 Auxiliary, shared her wealth of memories from the 1940s. The post is named after Ambrose D. Regalia, the first Pleasanton casualty of World War II.
"We lost nine guys in World War II," Pecoraro said, noting that Pleasanton at that time only had a few thousand people. "For a small town that was a lot. We lost a lot in major battles."
The names of those killed in Vietnam are all listed on the Memorial Wall in Washington, which he visited.
"The Vietnam people were more transient," Pecoraro remarked, but he found contacts on the Internet once he had the names. "I got a lot of their stories from platoon sergeants."
Pecoraro's research yielded the names of nine men killed in World War II; one in the Korean War; and seven in Vietnam. Each has a page or two in the book with his photo and information about how he lived and how he died, and in one case letters of condolence sent to his family from President Roosevelt and from the military commander.
"It would be nice if Pleasanton could raise a memorial someday to these guys, a stone or something with the 17 names on it," said Pecoraro. "The important thing is that people know these guys died."
World War II casualties
Pvt. Ambrose D. Regalia
Tec4 William Joseph Theodore
2ndLt. James W. McCann
Sgt. Joseph P. Peters
SSgt. Joseph P. Amaral
Cpl. Morris Joseph Bernard
Pfc. Joseph G. Cardoza
Pfc. Alfred Cattalini
Pvt. Robert J. Ashe
Korean War casualties
Cpl. Vernon (Buster) Joseph Church
Vietnam War casualties
Pfc. Gary Paul Meyer
Sp4 Joseph Mario Cagnacci
Sgt. Joseph Cloud Jr.
Cpl. Ronald Allen Beardsley
Pfc. Abel Joseph De La Paz
Sp4 Jeffrey Lynn Davis
Sgt. Richard Dean Covert Jr.