The Mountain Area is saying good-bye to one of its most dedicated veterans and teachers. On Nov. 2, Marine Corps Colonel, Bruce Derry will be leaving the Oakhurst to be closer to his family in Boise, Idaho.
Derry was born on July 29, 1948, in Riverside and graduated from Concordia Teachers College in Dec. 1970, with a Bachelors of Science in Biology. Following his education, Derry enlisted in the Marines in January of 1971 evolving his experience in the Marines into a brilliant career.
Col. Derry served a combined total of 30 years in the Marine Corps and Marine Corps Reserve where he earned the rank of Colonel.
Throughout his duties with the Marine Corps, Col. Derry was exposed to numerous combat situations including a tour in Vietnam in Southeast Asia in 1971. He also commanded more than 750 men and women while participating in operation Desert Storm/Desert Shield.
While in active duty Derry received numerous awards and medals including the Legion of Merit, which is commonly known as sixth in the order of precedence of U.S. Military awards.
Prior to retirement from active duty in 2000, Col. Derry served as Director of Marine Enlisted Commissioning Education Program Preparatory School in San Diego.
Derry is a true believer in hard work and enjoys teaching others about discipline and the values of honest morals.
"I never did play golf and never went to the tennis courts...I worked with my marines and went home to raise my children," Derry said.
During his near 30 years of service Col. Derry moved to Oakhurst in 1988 where he used his degree in Biology to become an agricultural inspector for Madera County and where he and his wife, Carol raised their five daughters.
While living in Oakhurst Derry dedicated years of his life to the young men and women of the Mountain Area including mentoring and training the Yosemite High School Cadet Corps. His extended involvement with the Yosemite High School California Cadet Corps has helped shape the lives of many of its members, past and present.
Current Cadet Commandant Ellen Peterson worked with Derry on numerous occasions and believes he embodies true values every man and women should possess.
"They aren't enough words to tell you who he has helped and to tell you the man, father, and husband he is ... I've known him for years and I feel like a very dear friend is moving," Peterson said.
Derry agrees that the Cadet Corps was one of the most rewarding experiences here in Oakhurst.
"The opportunity I have had with the Cadet Corps, being involved with Mrs. Peterson and the Cadet Corps it was just a wonderful experience. Ellen is a wonderful leader and we both believed the Cadet Corps was a family.....it was a joy to help some of the youngsters who didn't have such a great connection with an adult," Derry said.
Derry has touched peoples lives in all aspects of the community and has shown true respect and a passion for teaching others how to better themselves as people and how to better themselves as service men and women.
Jack Dee, a retired member of the U.S. Army and a member of the Caring Veterans of America says although he has just recently gotten to know Col. Derry, Dee is honored to have met him and believes Derry truly enjoyed teaching and helping others who may have needed guidance.
"He's a humble man who definitely cares about people and he wants to impact people in a teaching aspect....he has definitely had a a positive impact on many peoples lives," Dee said.
Derry says he will miss Oakhurst and most importantly the people who make it the close knit community it is.
"Oakhurst has been very good to my family and I would like to thank all those who help to provide such a wonderful life here in Oakhurst. There have been numerous individuals who have provided great experiences for my wife and I...I would like to thank all those who supported my family," Derry said.
Derry officially retired from the Marine Corps in 2001 after 30 years of service and became a truly active member of the community as well as a member of the Caring Veterans of America, Oakhurst branch.
He says the most memorial and honorable experience while he was in the military, aside from marriage to his wife and the birth of his children, was the opportunity to be a leader of so many great service men and women.
"It was such a privilege and an honor to wear the uniform and an honor leading Marines," Derry said.
Derry will leave behind many friends in the area including member of the Caring Veterans of America but most of all he will be missed by all those whose lives he impacted.