Yesterday I enjoyed a very cool event at Gillespie Field in El Cajon. Air Group One, the San Diego wing of the Commemorative Air Force, put on a unique Warbird Expo and Aviation & Military Memorabilia Swap Meet out on the airfield’s tarmac!
All sorts of restored World War II aircraft were on display, as well as jeeps, vintage automobiles and other unique vehicles–even old tractors! I noticed that a few of the historical airplanes belong to Air Group One; others are stationed at Gillespie Field or flew in for the occasion.
The swap meet portion of the event featured all sort of artwork and aviation collectibles. Occasionally a World War II airplane would take off, land or roar by. Visitors could purchase a short ride around Gillespie Field! While Air Group One often participates in airshows, I was told this was their first ever event of this type. Hopefully it becomes an annual tradition!
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An important event in San Diego history took place over the Labor Day weekend. It involved a firefighter hero who saved lives during 9/11, his two sons, and the game of stickball.
The following inspirational article is contributed by Margie Jones of 4 Heroes 4 Life:
The 2017 Labor Day Stickball Tournament in Little Italy was one of the largest in its 19 year history with a field of 16 teams, four from New York and one from Tampa Bay, Florida. New York transplant Bob Ortiz and a group of players brought the Bronx-style tradition of street baseball to California in the early 1990s, later passing the torch to brothers Louie and Joey Centanni.
This year’s tournament held a special meaning for the San Diego and New York stickball communities, bringing the return of Skylar and Austin Mercado, sons of former Emperor’s Stickball League President Steve Mercado. Mercado and his family brought the team to San Diego from the Bronx in 2001 when the boys were 6 and 2 years old. The Mercado family made a lasting impression on many San Diegans, including SD City Firefighter and Stickball League Commissioner Willie Blas and Fire Marshal Mark George. After saying their goodbyes, Steve returned to NYC and went straight to work on 9/11, courageously saving lives. He was one of 12 of 13 from Engine 40 and Ladder 35 to lose their lives on that day, along with over 400 NYC first responders.
This weekend, Skylar and Austin Mercado brought the legacy of their Dad and Grandfather to Stickball in San Diego. Their team, the Tampa Chargers, was undefeated going into the Championship Game on Monday but could not best the local Sultans of Swat, who took home the trophy this year. We hope the Mercados experienced the outpouring of love and support for these two fine young men, their family, and the entire NYC community of heroes.
So that Steve and all heroes on that day will be NEVER FORGOTTEN, Mark and Willie as sponsored by 4 Heroes 4 Life and Veteran Adventures will be hosting a 9/11 NEVER FORGOTTEN Charity Golf Tournament and Community Extravaganza on September 11. Proceeds of the event will benefit the Steven Mercado Foundation, and funds for Engine 40 and Ladder 35, and the NYC Emergency Fund. This is the first of an annual event on 9/11 as an opportunity to bring community together in support of our fallen heroes and for our nation’s healing. Please join us. Register or donate here.
I saw on the news this morning that a special event was being held to remember the firemen and other heroes who responded with selfless courage during the 9/11 attack, thirteen years ago. Firefighters, wearing full gear, would climb ninety stories of stairs, simulating a climb of the World Trade Center towers shortly after they were struck.
My meandering Sunday walk around downtown started late, and by the time I was near the Convention Center, it was early afternoon. But I figured I’d swing around to the tall Hilton hotel to see if the event was still underway.
The stair climbing was over. But many firefighters and emergency responders from San Diego and the surrounding region were still in the park in front of the thirty story Hilton, enjoying food and fellowship.
I personally can’t imagine climbing the equivalent of three tall Hilton hotel buildings wearing all that awkward, extremely heavy gear! These heroes of today, with all of their might, honored the memory of those who endangered their own lives trying to save others.
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