The Renegade Rip

Local veteran honored at East High School

Laura Liera

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“We are here today because of what you did yesterday,” said East Bakersfield High School Principal Lee Vasquez at the Raymond Permenter Memorial Display in the school’s Career Center. A dedication ceremony was conducted on April 24 to honor Ray Permenter, who was killed during World War II.
Raymond Permenter was the first student-athlete who became the first Blade athlete to earn 12 athletic letters and was honored by being selected to join the All-County football and basketball teams. “Ray scored East’s first ever touchdown against rival Bakersfield High with his 68-yard interception return, and his ‘grand slam’ home run gave East a win over the Drillers in baseball,” according to the memorial display.
Richard Lemocchi, 87, East High School alumnus, played football and basketball with Ray. “I knew Ray since grammar school and having the opportunity to play sports with him in high school was absolutely wonderful and an honor because Ray was fun to be around and always had a smile on his face. You never could have known he was an all-American athlete because he was always humble and a great teammate,” said Lemocchi.
Ray enlisted in the U.S. Air Force in April 1943, and was a part of the 485th Bomb Group who flew many strategic missions over Europe, completing numerous bombing strikes that destroyed oil refineries, ammunition and ball-bearing factories that crippled the German war efforts and hastened the end of the war.
Ned Permenter, 72, Ray’s second cousin, was involved heavily in doing this memorial for Ray. There was confusion on the East High football field, which was dedicated as Permenter Field in a public ceremony, held on April 7, 1948. “Many people thought the field was named after me,” said Permenter. “I coached at Foothill 40 years, and with no first name on the Memorial at the field, people were starting to become confused about who they named the field after and I wanted to clarify that. I also wanted to educate students about the 485th Bomb Group and WWII, honor all vets and to teach students the sacrifices made for their way of life and freedom,” he said.
Finding intensive and thorough research on World War crash sites, lost planes and soldiers is author Jerry W. Whiting’s interest. “Once you open the door to uncover something like this, other things just continue to come up and the door is never closed,” said Whiting. Whiting writes about the 485th Bomb Group in order to reunite veterans and partisans.
“I was desperate to put all those pictures up at East High and put something together for Ray because he was a great individual who sacrificed his life for our freedom, like many soldiers are doing today,” said Permenter.
Ray’s last mission was to bomb the heavily fortified Florisdorf Oil Refinery in Vienna, Austria. This refinery provided the German army with much of its oil supply, and was defended by numerous anti-aircraft “flak” guns and Nazi fighter planes. Ray’s plane, “Lazy Eight,” was shot down by flak and all crewmembers aboard died, according to Whiting’s discoveries.
Permenter had many photos of Ray and walked into the Kern High School District with a trash bag full of letters, newspaper clippings and photos of Ray.
Denise Avery, graphic artist for the Kern High School District, met with Ned and Kevin Keyes, superintendent of schools representative, to talk about a possible memory shadow box to be displayed in the East High career center.
“I donated my time to get it all together and it took about six months,” said Avery. Avery saw the enthusiastic idea Ned had and said it was “an honor and touching experience working on something like this.”
Ray’s sister, Barbara Permenter Cady, 89, East High and Bakersfield College alumni, attended the ceremony and felt happy to know her brother was being remembered after so many years. “Ned kept me and Norm, my husband, informed about all of the things he was doing, but I never imagined it would look this great,” said Permenter Cady. She believes Ray joined the military because it was something everyone was doing during that time and he was determined to give up his life to save the lives of his family and loved ones. “He was a good boy, a good brother, very modest and humble, and I miss him every day,” she said.

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Local veteran honored at East High School