Hundreds gather at Victory Plaza to honor Truckee veterans

Hannah Jones
Dennis L. Schlumpf, a former first class Seabee speaks about his experiences in the Navy
Hannah Jones/

A crowd of over 200 packed Victory Plaza in downtown Truckee for a Veterans Day celebration Monday morning.

“It’s a heavy day,” said Matt Hillock, a U.S. Army veteran and commander for the American Legion Truckee Chapter.

Since taking over as commander of the American Legion chapter in May 2018, Hillock has made efforts to bring life back to the Veterans Hall building and involve more veterans in the community. The Veterans Day ceremony is part of that process, he said.

“The connections need to be made and the people that need to do it is the veterans themselves,” he said. “And that’s what we’re doing.”

Sharing his own stories as a veteran was special guest speaker Dennis L. Schlumpf, a former first class Seabee. Schlumpf spent six years in the Navy working on the Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 40, the first battalion recommissioned after World War II. It was at a time he learned valuable lessons in leadership.

He recalled a time when he was given a job to build a small dwelling for a Marine general. The plans for the building showed unusually low window placements, which would be a risk if a mortar landed close to the building and shattered all over the general. Schlumpf said he spoke up to a higher ranking officer in order to get the plans changed.

“You have to know when to speak and when to not,” Schlumpf said. “If you have the confidence to say something to somebody, you do it.”

Following the ceremony veterans gathered for lunch at the Veterans Hall to share their own stories with each other and community members.

Hillock served two years in Afghanistan in the Army Infantry, 10th Mountain Division, shortly after the Sept. 11 attacks. After moving to Lake Tahoe, he became involved in Truckee’s American Legion Chapter.

“There’s never a time when this building is happier than when it’s full of people that are paying tribute to military life,” said Hillock. “Veterans love sharing and hearing other people’s stories.”

Hannah Jones is a reporter for the Sierra Sun. She can be reached at 530-550-2652 or

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