PROFILE OF A MUSEUM VOLUNTEER
Ramon Colmenero was born in Fresno, California March 7, 1932 to Salvador and Kate Colmenero. He and his five siblings, Lucy Rodriguez, Rudy, Salvador Jr., Victor, and Annie Sandoval were all raised in Fresno. Ramon attended Columbia Elementary, St. Alphonsos Middle School, and Edison High School. At 15 years of age Ramon enlisted into “B” Company, 12th Infantry Battalion of the United States Marine Corps Reserve in Fresno.
While attending a local dance, 16 year old Ramon met Barbara Maez of Fresno, and an early Romance began to bloom. Ramon requested a discharge from the Reserves at 17, and with his mother’s consent, enlisted in the United States Air Force. After sixteen weeks of basic training at Lackland AFB in Texas, Ramon was sent to aircraft structural repair at Chanute AFB in Illinois, then to his permanent change station (PCS) at Travis AFB; Fairfield, California under the Strategic Air Command. Having completed schooling through the 10th grade in Fresno, Ramon continued his studies with the Air Force and earned his GED.
On April 30, 1950, at the tender age of eighteen, Ramon and Barbara were wed in Fresno and have been blessed with five children; Ramon Jr., Nancy, Christine, Barbara, and Victoria. They have been married 56 years, have 22 grandchildren, and at last count, 12 great grandchildren.
Ramon served under five different commands, Airlift, Alaskan Air, Air Combat, and nine PCS moves; including Ladd AFB, Alaska; Dhaharon, Saudi Arabia, Bein Hoa, Vietnam, and Kevlavick, Newfoundland. While serving in Vietnam in 1968, Ramon was injured by rocket shrapnel and transferred to a hospital in Tachikawa, Japan. After a month and half of recovery, he was returned to Vietnam, and awarded the Purple Heart Medal while at Bein Hoa.
During Ramon’s 22 year military career he had many exciting incidents, most of which had him on aircraft recoveries traveling through Tachi Kawa, Japan and Cape Lishburn, Alaska, as well as other lesser known areas. One notable experience was a C-141 aircraft’s rear cargo doors broke open and flew off while transporting troops to Vietnam. It was God’s miracle that all the troops were still belted on, as they would have flown out. The plane made an emergency landing at Wake Island where Ramon’s recovery team was assigned from its home base to repair and return the aircraft back home.
The troops were able to continue on
their tour. During his military tenure, Ramon
was awarded the Purple Heart, Commendation Medal, Army Good Conduct, Air Force
Good Conduct, National Defense, Vietnam Service, and the
Vietnam Campaign Medals.