The young, petite, dark haired woman whose eyes bore the stains of lots of tears stood on the edge of the crowd at the Armory on Yosemite Avenue. Dressed in the white uniform she wore as an employee of a local dry cleaning establishment, she watched the preparations for honoring the returning prisoner of war. Her heart raced with a glimmer of hope. Perhaps he could tell her something. Maybe he knew.
She had taken off from work to try to meet Pvt. 1C Carl Doran, who was coming home after spending three years in a North Korean prisoner of war camp.
The date was Aug. 31, 1953, and the Mayor of Madera, along with the City Council and the Madera County Board of Supervisors, had all turned out that Monday to honor Private Doran. Music was playing, the colors were paraded, honors bestowed, and the cameras of newsmen photographed the youthful North Fork hero and his happy family.
It was a much-deserved tribute to the young soldier, but one interlude that was not photographed — possibly the most dramatic of the day — centered around Mrs. Rita Alaniz. She carried a heavy burden of grief. Her husband had been missing in action since November 1950, the same month that Private Doran was captured...