Fellow veteran Marty Richman gave a special tribute to Hollister City Councilman Ray Friend for his bravery aboard the USS Enterprise in 1969 when a fire and explosions almost sank the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier.
Richman, who has announced he is running to fill the City Council seat of Jim Gillio in District 4, sought to recognize Friend during the council’s Aug. 7 meeting. It was Friend’s final session as he is retiring and moving to Oregon to be near family.
In his tribute, Richman recounted how on Jan. 14, 1969, amid a major fire and series of explosions on the ship, Friend, a U.S. Navy crew member, joined a firefighting team to extinguish the blaze inside the hanger bay as burning jet fuel poured down from the flight deck.
“As described in the book, Trial: The Ordeal of the USS Enterprise, Ray pulled out a fire hose and fought the fire,” Richman said. “One detonation blew an eight-foot by seven-foot hole in the steel flight deck that knocked out all the lights and yet they still tried to save the wounded in that nightmare.”
Following his remarks, Richman saluted Friend. The audience and Friend’s fellow council members stood and applauded. After Richman, each council member spoke highly of having served alongside Friend. Audience members Zavan Quezada, who is running for mayor in November, former mayor and councilman Victor Gomez (now president of public relations and lobbying firm Pinnacle Strategy), and Elia Salinas, who ran for county supervisor in the primary earlier this year, also thanked Friend for his service to the city.
Addressing Friend, Gomez said: “On Dec. 7, 2008, you and I were sworn into office. You and I spent eight years together serving the public and I just wanted to say personally thank you for your dedication to this community. You’re always willing to speak to the community, willing to engage. When arrows are tossed your way, you don’t care. I admire your style and you’re going to be missed.”
“I want to publicly thank Councilman Friend for his dedication to this community,” said Salinas. “He’s been approachable to everybody.”
City Manager Bill Avera said he can’t remember a time working for the city that Friend hasn’t also been there.
“From all of us at staff we thank you very much for your dedication and all the time you spent at Planning Commissions, all the special meetings during General Plans,” Avera said. “I don’t think everybody understands what it takes to be a council person and they certainly don’t understand what it takes to be on the council for 10 years.”
After Avera gave him a plaque, Friend was visibly choked up.
“It’s been fun,” Friend said.