Published in the February 28 – March 13, 2018 issue of Morgan Hill Life

 Jim Taylor has come to really enjoy visiting Morgan Hill. The Congressional Medal of Honor recipient was the 2015 Grand Marshall in our Independence Day Parade, has toured Operation Freedom Paws, and recently was the main guest speaker at the Friends and Family of Nisei Veterans in early February, and along with more than a dozen other Medal of Honor recipients were honored during the most recent Super Bowl in Minnesota.

Taylor said it’s an honor to visit Morgan Hill and share his views about war, patriotism, and honor.

“I like the patriotism the people (of Morgan Hill) have and the friendliness of everyone,” said Taylor, who lives in the Trinity Lake area. “I’ve never met a person there I didn’t like.”

Taylor said it was great meeting the friends and families of the Nisei veteran. “It was a great atmosphere and just really wonderful people,” he said. “It was great to be there.”

About OFP, he said he was impressed with what founder Mary Cortani has accomplished in five short years.

“That was quite a facility,” he said. “That gal is something else. To do what she’s doing is very admirable.” OFP pairs service dogs with veterans and others who need them at no cost.

Afterward, Taylor enjoyed a meal at Ladera Grill with several other veterans, including Art Gonzales and Brian Sullivan (the 2018) Morgan Hill Chamber of Commerce Man of the Year, and hosted by owner Dan McCranie.

“What he does for veterans is amazing,” Taylor said of McCranie. “He’s a true patriot, there’s nothing phony about him.”

On Nov. 9, 1967, First Lt. Taylor was serving in Vietnam as a cavalry officer. When his troops came under intense enemy fire and several armored assault vehicles were hit, Taylor jumped into action. During the battle, Taylor — despite being shot — repeatedly exposed himself to enemy fire to rescue numerous crewmen from damaged assault vehicles and personnel carriers. He was subsequently promoted to captain and awarded the Medal of Honor Nov. 19, 1968.

The Medal of Honor citation reads: “His actions of unsurpassed valor were a source of inspiration to his entire troop, contributed significantly to the success of the overall assault on the enemy position, and were directly responsible for saving the lives of a number of his fellow soldiers.”

About Morgan Hill, Taylor told us: “It was an honor to be down there.”

Jim, it’s an honor to have you here. You’re welcome anytime.

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Photo courtesy Carol Duren c/o Morgan Hill Neighborhood Facebook page
A plane safely landed on U.S. 101.

It sure was quite a scene seeing a plane land on U.S. 101, but that’s exactly what happened shortly after 11 a.m., Feb. 18. According to the California Highway Patrol, the pilot, 62-year-old Wayne Wright from Aptos, was en route to the Watsonville Airport coming from Davis, when he lost engine power at 6,500 feet. At the time he was about eight miles from San Martin. He contacted the San Jose Air Traffic Control and told them of his situation and said his view of the ground below was obstructed due to clouds. Eventually, Wright was able to get below the clouds and was able to gain a view of the freeway. He told air traffic control that he could not make the airport and would attempt to make an emergency landing on the freeway.

As he was descending, he observed traffic beginning to stop in a cascading effect toward him. He made a split-second decision to land his aircraft in the center divide of northbound U.S. 101 just south of Tennant Avenue so his wing would only extend into the fast lane, and lessen the chance of colliding with traffic on the freeway. Wright safely landed his plane in the center divide of U.S. 101 northbound facing in a southbound direction. No injuries occurred and there were no collisions as a result. The plane was towed from the freeway to the San Martin Airport where it will be inspected.

What an awesome job done by the pilot, avoiding what could have been a  real disaster. And also good job to the pros at Air Traffic Control for their help.

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Photo courtesy Charter School of MH
Charter School children line cans of food around the track.

On Valentine’s Day, the Charter School of Morgan Hill community showed the larger community how much they care by donating enough cans to go around their eighth-mile track (more than 2,600 cans of food). In the weeks leading up to the event, students used their math skills to calculate the number of cans each student would have to contribute to meet the goal.

Each teacher tailored the lesson to fit the needs and abilities of their students. In the younger grades, students cut out circles, numbered them, then counted how many cans it would take to go around their rug and classroom. In the higher grades, students calculated the average diameter of a variety of cans and the exact number of students at the school, without asking the office. Students also used percentages to calculate how they were measuring against their goal. Not only was this project a wonderful opportunity to exercise critical thinking skills but it was also a great opportunity to demonstrate personal and social responsibility which are three of the five expected “Student Outcomes” for the Charter School of Morgan Hill.

All donations were given to Second Harvest Food Bank for distribution to those in need in our community.

Thank you for your generosity, students, staff and CSMH community!

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Scholarship applications are now available for the Morgan Hill Mushroom Mardi Gras Scholar-ship program. Applications can be downloaded on the Mushroom Mardi Gras website at or picked up at the Live Oak and Sobrato High School Counseling offices or the Morgan Hill Mushroom Mardi Gras office, 224 Tennant Station. All high school seniors who live within the boundaries of the Morgan Hill Unified School District, attending public or private school, are welcome to apply.

Since its inception, more than 1,000 students have been awarded scholarships totaling more than $1 million for continuing education.


Scholarship recipients will be introduced at the 39th Annual Morgan Hill Mushroom Mardi Gras Festival at 1:30 p.m., Sunday, May 27. The deadline for all applications to be returned to the Mushroom Mardi Gras office is Friday, March 16, 2018.

For more information on the scholarship program or any of these services, contact the Morgan Hill Mushroom Mardi Gras office at (408)778-1786.                                                    •           •             •

And young ladies, after you apply for the MMG scholarship, you might want to try to become the 2018 Gilroy Garlic Festival Queen. Young ladies between the ages of 18 to 24 who live in Gilroy, Hollister, San Juan Bautista, San Martin, Morgan Hill, or Aromas are eligible to enter. Complete con-test rules and online application forms are posted on the Gilroy Garlic Festival website at Entries must be received by 4 p.m., Friday, March 16, 2018. For additional information, call (408) 842-1625.            •           •             •

In the Jan. 31 issue, we ran a story about the Magical Bridge Foundation’s efforts to raise money to complete the Inclusive Playground. Since then, we learned Stratford School raised slightly more than $1,000 during their annual Family Game Night at Stratford’s campus in Morgan Hill. During this annual event, families and friends rotate through various games and donated $5 per person to participate, and donations were also raised through a silent auction, Principal Cheryl Damato told us. One hundred percent of all proceeds donated at Stratford’s Morgan Hill Family Game Night went directly to Magical Bridge.

Robert Airoldi

Robert Airoldi

Robert Airoldi is the editor of Morgan Hill Life newspaper. If you have a story idea or an Around Town column item you want to tell him about, you can reach him at (408) 427-5865 or at
Robert Airoldi