A weekend of welcomes for Pleasanton GIs back from Afghanistan | May 3, 2013 | Pleasanton Weekly | PleasantonWeekly.com |


Pleasanton Weekly

Column - May 3, 2013

A weekend of welcomes for Pleasanton GIs back from Afghanistan

Several hundred well-wishers, military families and friends turned out last weekend in blistering heat to welcome home three more Pleasanton GIs who have just returned from Afghanistan. Waving flags and cheering in what are becoming more frequent celebrations as more military from Pleasanton come home, our group included two Congressmen, Eric Swalwell (D-Dublin) and Jerry McNerney (D-Stockton), Pleasanton Mayor Jerry Thorne, two candidates for City Council in next Tuesday's election -- David Miller and Kathy Narum -- and, thankfully, Pat Frizzel, co-chair of the Pleasanton Military Families organization. I say "thankfully" because Pat circled through the crowd spraying bottles of water mist on us as the temperatures hit 90 degrees.

Sunday's homecoming was at the home of Laurie and Greg Leetch on Menlo Court in Valley Trails to celebrate the safe return of their son Air Force Lt. Jonathan Leetch, a Foothill High School graduate. Leetch logged over 700 combat flight hours in Afghanistan.

Last Saturday, we joined with Cindy and Matt DePretis to welcome home from Afghanistan their sons Marine Cpl. Marc DePretis and Army Spc. Nathaniel (Nate) DePretis. Another son, Army Spc. Christopher DePretis, returned earlier.

Marc grew up in Pleasanton, joined the Marines in 2008, and was subsequently deployed three times, twice to Southeast Asia, and then, last year, to Sangin, Afghanistan. He completes his service in August. Nate DePretis joined the Army in January 2011, was sent to the Army Airborne School at Ft. Benning, then was assigned to the 173rd Airborne based in Vicenza, Italy. He was a paratrooper for nearly two years, earning his Canadian Jump wings by jumping with the Canadian Army in Poland. Last July, he was deployed to Afghanistan, where, within 10 days of arriving, his unit was attacked and two of his close friends were killed. He received a commendation for his effort to rescue fellow soldiers while under fire. He has another year to serve.

More celebrations are coming, including one next Wednesday for a career Navy seaman coming back from Afghanistan duty. We'll be there to say "welcome home."