Since 1775, less than 2500 Marines have received the Silver Star medal. One of them lived right here in La Cañada.
His nickname was "Pepper" and he was a Recon Marine. Roy Allen "Pepper" Fryman was born on December 9, 1933. He joined the Marine Corps during the peaceful 1950s. He became a Reconnaissance Marine during those sweet years of peace.
Recon Marines undergo special training — they are experts in survival and combat. They study land navigation, communications and anti-terrorism warfare. They are jump-trained with paratrooper's jump wings. They are deep sea scuba divers. It is an elite unit.
In the early 1960s, Pepper Fryman left the Marine Corps. He moved to La Cañada with his Norwegian wife. They had two children, a boy and a girl.
Pepper began to work as a stunt man in the movie industry. The Frymans loved to ski and hike in our local foothills. And Pepper Fryman continued to jump.
Fryman's fellow Marines consistently described him as an inspirational man. One Marine told me:
"Sgt. Fryman was my first team leader … during the recon tryouts he personally told me that I had what it takes to be a Recon Marine and that I should not give up. At that time I was laying on the ground, physically exhausted, his encouragement and confidence in me got me to my feet … he was an inspiration to all that knew him. I can still picture him in my mind's eye and I will never forget his positive impact on my life."
Pepper Fryman re-enlisted in the Marine Corps.
In 1966, Pepper Fryman was sent to Vietnam, assigned to First Force Recon. During his first tour in Vietnam, in 1966, Fryman was awarded the Navy Cross for extreme heroism.
The Navy Cross is the second-highest honor that can be awarded to a person serving in the Marine Corps or Navy. Here are the requirements:
To warrant this distinctive decoration, the act or the execution of duty must be performed in the presence of great danger and must be performed in such a manner as to set the individual apart from his shipmates. An accumulation of minor acts of heroism does not justify the award.
Fryman survived that first tour and returned home.
In 1969, Pepper Fryman returned to Vietnam for his second tour. On Aug. 24, 1969, he was killed in Quang Ngai, South Vietnam. He was 35 years old.
After his death, his wife moved home to Norway with the children. When the boy grew up, he returned to the United States and decided to follow in his father's footsteps. Young Per Eric Fryman enlisted in the United States Marine Corps.
In May of 2000, when the plaque went up with his father's name in La Cañada's Memorial Park, Sgt. Per Fryman said, "It is nice to know that there are still people out there who appreciate the sacrifices made by my father and men like him."
Pepper Fryman's friend, Sgt. Jim Isom, once told me, "I never served with a finer Marine and never had a better friend. Without any doubt GySt. Roy A. Fryman remains on duty."
On duty. Right here in La Cañada.
Anita Susan Brenner is a longtime La Cañada Flintridge resident. She is an attorney with Law Offices of Torres and Brenner.