The Shell Martinez Refinery and general managers meeting from the throughout the Americas in Martinez hosted a successful fundraising dinner on Tues., Nov. 12, at the Veterans Memorial Building in downtown Martinez, raising more than $11,000 for needed kitchen improvements.

A Salute to Veterans drew 140 people, far more than 100 anticipated. Five Pearl Harbor survivors were the guests of honor.

Twenty-two Shell volunteers, including Aamir Farid, vice president for manufacturing in the Americas,  along with the general managers and others, cooked and served a tri-tip dinner. 

The community contributed $5,750 through dinner sales and raffle tickets, and Shell Martinez Refinery matched the amount, bringing the grand total raised to $11,500. This was more than twice the $5,000 that Shell Martinez had hoped to raise.

The Pearl Harbor survivors were honored for their service to their country with a hearty round of applause and many handshakes from community members and civic leaders who attended the dinner.

Veteran Chuck Kohler, who as a young man was at Pearl Harbor when the Japanese attacked, recited a poem he wrote titled “A Tour of Remembrance.” Many in the audience were wiping tears from their eyes before he completed the poem.

In part, it reads, 

“Some saw it all, got involved, each in his own way.

And for those who did, and still survive, it’s like only yesterday.

We’ve grown old, tried to move on, things we’ve tried to forget.

But try as we will, those memories linger still, and for some – it’s not over yet.”

Among those attending were Martinez Mayor Rob Schroder, who gave a keynote address, two other members of the City Council, the city manager, several members of the Shell Martinez Community Advisory Panel, a member of Communities for a Better Environment and many veterans from various wars.

The fundraiser comes during a momentous year for Pearl Harbor survivors in the Bay Area, as Save Mount Diablo launched a successful effort to restore a historic beacon on the top of Mount Diablo that, since 1964, has been lit annually on Dec. 7 in honor of the attack on Pearl Harbor and of the veterans who served their country.

Shell Martinez riggers, machinists and others in a variety of roles, from contracts and procurement to public affairs, have volunteered their time and efforts in the beacon restoration.

A major volunteer contributor was also Maxim Crane, a Shell Martinez contractor that provided a large crane to take the beacon off the summit tower in June 2013, and then returned it to the mountain on Oct. 22, 2013. Shell riggers Bobby Wilkes and Mike Archer, who helped with removal and return, were at the fundraising dinner, as were other key volunteers.

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