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Nov. 3 in Merced history: Col. Macready wins coveted French honor

November 3, 1958: A retired Air Force officer who was instrumental in organizing the old Merced Air Field received the highest military honor of the French Republic this week, just 13 years after the event for which he was cited.

Col. John A. Macready, who along with Col. Joseph P. Bailey, helped institute Merced Air Field in 1940 out of a veritable cow pasture, received the Croix de Guerre for his activities as an operations officer with the 12th Air Force from 1939 to 1945 in North Africa.

The long delay in Macready's finally obtaining the high award was due to several factors. The award was actually signed by French authorities in 1950. In 1953 Macready was sent a letter from the government telling him of the award made to him and explaining that a private citizen was not authorized to wear or possess such a medal.

Macready will be remembered by members of the old Merced Army flying School as the commander of the 89th Air Base Squadron, stationed here in the summer of 1942.

Col. and Mrs. Macready are now living at 655 W. 19th Street in Merced.

November 3, 1983


Merced Municipal Airport's control tower would go back on active duty under a federal grant program to help smaller cities contract for tower operations and take over the controls from the Federal Aviation Administration.

This means the tower would escape the closures of 51 control towers across the nation proposed by the FAA. Some of these towers, like Merced's, would get grants to contract independently for services.

Merced's tower has been in a holding pattern since it was "temporarily" closed in August 1981, as part of a program FAA officials said they used to preliminarily phase out under used towers.

The Merced closure came in the midst of the air traffic controllers' nationwide strike.

But Merced officials said until recently they had received no word from he FAA on the final status of the 9-year-old tower here.

Then, last August, Rep. Tony Coelho, D-Merced, announced the FAA soon would provide funds to help Merced reopen its tower.

November 3, 1998


Are the awnings on Norm Porges' Prime Shine Express car wash an anti-graffiti security system or corporate colors? We will never really know because Monday the Merced City Council compromised on whether or not Porges could back light the yellow awnings - he got half wattage and Merced kept its existing signage ordinance intact.

Although local taggers did not offer public commentary on the issue, anti-graffiti activists in the wings who did not wish to be identified gave Prime Shine "a 280 percent chance of getting hit within the next five working nights.

As one tagbuster put it, the car wash meets all four of the criteria for graffiti: "a well-traveled thoroughfare; poorly lit; a tagable surface; and not occupied at night.

The vote was five to two in favor of the compromise, Councilwoman Barbara Sullivan and Councilman George Hines dissenting on the "corporate colors" issue.