John Ray Boswell
Master Serveant,United States Marine Corps
a contemporary press report:
Area veterans hope to keep a heroic soldier's memory alive by naming the veterans hall building in Danville after him.
If they are successful, the hall would become the John Ray Boswell Veterans Memorial Building. But several steps must be taken before any name change could take place.
Boswell, a career Marine and Japanese prisoner of war, died September 23, 2003, at the age of 83. A memorial for the Danville, California, resident was held last year at the Veterans Hall, but two weeks ago Boswell's ashes found their final resting place when he was buried with full honors at Arlington National Cemetery.
The Veterans Hall is owned by Contra Costa County but maintained and rented by Danville for seniors' activities under an agreement with the county. Any request for a name change must first go before the Board of Supervisors for review.
Last week, U.S. Representative Richard Pombo, R-Tracy, sent a letter supporting the idea to Federal Glover, chairman of the county Board of Supervisors. Glover could not be reached Monday for comment, and the request was not yet on the supervisors' agenda by late Monday.
The letter reads, in part, "Mr. Boswell has earned this recognition for his continued dedication and service to our country.
"Mr. Boswell was committed to the United States military and to protecting our freedom ...
"Rededicating this building would be a tremendous honor to John Ray Boswell, as well as an answer to the requests of the veterans that have brought this to my attention."
A Pombo aide in Washington said the Congressman has received many letters and phone calls in support of the idea.
Veteran Tony Carnemolla of Alamo, a member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, met Boswell about 10 years ago and the men became fast friends.
"He was a very sincere man and a class-A Marine," Carnemolla said. "We feel naming the building after John is a very worthy idea."
Boswell was born in Florida and joined the Marines at 17 in 1937, before World War II. With the 4th Marines, the group's mission was to protect American interests in nationalist China. Events heated up and the unit was sent to Corregidor, an island in the Philippines. On May 6, 1942, Boswell was taken prisoner by the Japanese, and during 40 months in captivity went from 200 to 110 pounds. He was released in 1945, spending the next few months recuperating in Navy hospitals. He chose to re-enlist and served in the military until 1957.
After settling in the area, he went to college and became a teacher for 20 years. He is survived by his wife, Paula, a son and daughter and four grandchildren.
Danville Councilwoman Karen Stepper met Boswell last year at the Fourth of July parade.
"After all he went through, he came back as a giver. He was an amazing man," Stepper said.
Photo courtesy of Russell C. Jacobs, August 2006
BOSWELL, JOHN RAY