Boy Scouts celebrate 'Hometown Heroes'

Hometown Heroes were honored by the Verdugo Hills Council of the Boy Scouts of America on Wednesday, Dec. 7, a day that marked the 70th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Appropriately, veterans were among those honored at the Oakmont Country Club breakfast.

Honored was Burbank Police Chief Scott LaChasse. LaChasse is the son of a World War II prisoner of war at Stalag Luft III. La Chasse’s dad was his hero; his mom, his heroine. His mother, Dorothy, was LaChasse’s Cub Scout troop leader. A Glendale native, LaChasse was recruited by Burbank from previous duties at the Los Angeles Police Department.

Honored World War II vet George Haney, 96, has a family connection even closer to home. Son Mike Haney of Arroyo Investment Group lives in Glendale. He is also on the Board of Directors of the Glendale College Foundation. Mike filled his friends in on his father’s history. After working as a teacher at Kamehameha High School in Hawaii, George enlisted in the Army Corp on Honolulu, just seven months before the bombing of Pearl Harbor. George Haney has the distinction of saving the lives of his crew during a crash landing in the Pacific during World War II. A hometown boy, George attended Roosevelt Junior High, Glendale High School and Glendale College.

Burbank community leader Barry Burnett also was recognized. He was active in Scouts from 8 years old to 18 years old. Burnett, who says, “Boy Scouts saved my life,” described putting his Scout training to use after hitting an oil slick and slamming into a guard rail on the Pasadena bridge. Burnett realized his foot, still in his boot, was 100 feet behind him. Using his Boy Scout training, he grabbed his belt and made a tourniquet on his leg, thereby saving his life. Fifteen months and eight surgeries later, Burnett is active in his real estate career. He is a past chairperson of the California Board of Realtors.

Also honored were Vietnam veteran and Silver Star Recipient Frank Montury and World War II vet Keith Swaner.

Keynote speaker was former prisoner of war Col. John Fer. A decorated officer in the United States Air Force, Fer began his career with the Strategic Air Command, flying a B-47. During the Vietnam War, he flew 54 combat missions. On February 4, 1967 his plane was shot down over North Vietnam. Fer was taken prisoner and held for over six years in the POW camp referred to as the Hanoi Hilton. He shared a cell for a brief period with John McCain.

George Haney’s words were a fitting conclusion to this inaugural breakfast. Always a humble gentleman, he said, “We were no heroes … just guys who tried to stay alive and get home to what we were doing.”

Another hometown hero was honored in the midst of remembrances of the 70th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor. This ceremony took place at a USO canteen; actually, it was the decorated clubhouse of the La Crescenta Woman’s Club. On Thursday, members and guests took a step back in time to remember the veterans who fought for our country.

Recognized was Lance Corporal Travis Scott, who is on leave after serving two tours of duty in Afghanistan. This Marine has a month at his Glendale home before he finds out where his next posting will be. Also present was his father and former Marine David Scott, who served in the first Gulf War. Assemblyman Anthony Portantino (D-La Cañada Flintridge) was present to shake the hand of Lance Corporal Travis Scott and wish him good fortune during the rest of his duty.

Hosted by the Crescenta Valley Chamber of Commerce and the La Crescenta Woman’s Club, the event drew dozens of patriots who were ready to dance to ‘40s swing music provided by the Crescenta Valley High School Jazz Musicians. Guests also had the opportunity to sign up for their favorite silent auction item. Popular was a Military Christmas Wreath, courtesy of Canteen girls were played by Chamber President Leslie Lesh and Holly Heurkins of Crescenta Valley Insurance. They were willing to pose for pictures in their ‘40s best, as were club members and Glendale residents President Carol Huntwork and Past President Rita Evan.

A remembrance ceremony with an empty table and chairs symbolized current POWs and those missing in action. The ceremony was presided over by Lt. Col. David Worley, retired from the U.S. Air Force.

A ham dinner with potatoes au gratin was presented canteen-style as guests lined up to be served from steaming chafing dishes. The dinner was homemade by Chamber Past President Jean Maluccio. Daughter Julie Dowse had KP duty.

Event proceeds will benefit the Two Strike Park War Memorial Wall.

Ruth Sowby may be reached at

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