Remembering, helping Veterans this weekend.

Sunday is Veterans Day.

At events around San Diego County, ordinary citizens will honor heroes who’ve served our country. Flags will wave, bands will march, memories will be shared. Handshakes will transmit gratitude.

Over the years I’ve attended a variety of events that celebrate veterans. I’ve also learned of several ways to provide veterans with a little assistance.

Here are links to past blog posts that might interest you…

Photos of the San Diego Veterans Day Parade!

Veteran’s Day celebrated in Balboa Park.

World War II vets honored on USS Midway.

World War II vets honored at Spirit of ’45 event.

American heroes honored at Veterans Museum.

Students interview veterans for USS Midway exhibit.

Heroes of Mt. Soledad National Veterans Memorial.

Check the following links for opportunities to make a donation or help in some other way…

Helping veterans heal through creative art.

How to get support from fellow Veterans in San Diego.

Two ways to thank those who served and sacrificed.

Horse therapy helps veterans recover from trauma.

Spreckels Organ raises funds for Operation Rebound.

Colors of patriotism at big Fourth of July parade!

Flags move forward down Orange Avenue during the 2018 Fourth of July Parade in Coronado.
Flags move forward down Orange Avenue during the 2018 Fourth of July Parade in Coronado.

This morning I headed to Coronado to enjoy another Fourth of July parade.

This is the third year I’ve photographed the epic event. I had considered going elsewhere this year, but Independence Day in Coronado is special, and their patriotic parade is arguably the very best in the entire country, so I couldn’t resist experiencing it all again one more time!

I arrived early to Coronado and walked about for a bit, then found a spot on the parade route just before it started down Orange Avenue.

Here are some colorful photos…

People gather in Coronado for a patriotic Fourth of July Celebration.
People slowly gather in Coronado for a patriotic Fourth of July Celebration.
A guy waits on the sidewalk for the big morning parade with a flag ready.
A guy waits on the sidewalk for the big morning parade with his flag ready.
Red, white and blue bunting could be seen on shops and buildings throughout Coronado.
Red, white and blue bunting could be seen on shops and buildings throughout Coronado.
Kid heads down Orange Avenue on a small bicycle decorated for Independence Day.
Kid heads down Orange Avenue on a small bicycle decorated for Independence Day.
Many homes had patriotic banners and decorations. Most residents in Coronado support our country and our liberty.
Many homes had patriotic banners and decorations. Most residents in Coronado support our country and its core principle of human liberty.
A smiling Uncle Sam at someone's front gate.
A smiling Uncle Sam at someone’s front gate.
These tie-dye Coronado shirts in front of a shop are red, white and blue.
These tie-dye Coronado shirts in front of a shop are red, white and blue.
People relax and look at artwork for sale in Spreckels Park. An afternoon concert in the park features patriotic music.
People relax and look at artwork for sale in Spreckels Park. An afternoon concert in the park features patriotic music.
Patriotic wreath and bouquet in front of the Coronado Police headquarters honor and remember Senior Volunteer Patrol volunteers who recently passed away.
Patriotic wreath and bouquet in front of the Coronado Police headquarters honor and remember Senior Volunteer Patrol volunteers who recently passed away.
Portraits of hometown heroes.
Portraits of hometown heroes.
People head down Orange Avenue as the parade is about to begin.
People head down Orange Avenue to get in their spots as the parade is about to begin.
Hats are removed and hands placed over hearts as thousands sing the National Anthem.
Hats are removed and hands placed over hearts as thousands sing the National Anthem.
Can you see it yet? Here comes the parade!
Can you see it yet? The parade? Here it comes!
Members of San Diego County law enforcement come down the parade route on horseback.
Members of San Diego County law enforcement from Escondido ride down the parade route on horseback.
The Grand Marshall this year was Vice Admiral Brown.
The distinguished Grand Marshall this year was Vice Admiral Brown.
Several waving Pearl Harbor survivors received great applause from the crowd.
Several heroic Pearl Harbor survivors received great applause from the crowd.
The Fourth of July Parade in Coronado goes on and on with too many participants to mention!
The Fourth of July Parade in Coronado goes on and on with too many participants to mention!
A patriotic pooch.
A patriotic pooch.
Here comes the Marine Corps Band San Diego.
Here comes Marine Corps Band San Diego.
Military heroes march by on Independence Day.
Military based in San Diego march by on Independence Day.
Wounded Warriors get a big Welcome Home!
Wounded Warriors get a big Welcome Home!
A big American flag carried by many hands.
A gigantic American flag carried by many hands.
Smiles and many who are proud to live in the land of the free.
Smiles from many who are happy to live in the Land of the Free.
Here comes the Castle Park High School Trojan Brigade!
Here comes the Castle Park High School Trojan Brigade! They came up from Chula Vista.
As you might imagine,lots of cool cars were in the parade.
As you might imagine, lots of cool cars were in the parade.
Kids wave to the crowd.
A driver touches hands with the crowd as kids wave.
I think I see Maverick of Top Gun in that cockpit! No, it's actually a friendly young Tom Cruise look-alike who I've seen posing for photos by the USS Midway Museum.
I think I see Maverick of Top Gun in that cockpit! No, it’s actually a young Tom Cruise look-alike who sometimes poses for photos by the USS Midway Museum. I spoke to him once and he’s a super friendly cool guy.
The USS Midway Museum is always an important participant in San Diego's patriotic celebrations.
The USS Midway Museum is always an important participant in San Diego’s patriotic events.
During patriotic holidays, the Rotary Club of Coronado lines Orange Avenue's grassy median with American flags.
During patriotic holidays, the Rotary Club of Coronado lines Orange Avenue’s grassy median with American flags.
Here comes Honest Abe!
Look! Here comes Honest Abe!
I was getting hungry and hoped she'd accidentally flip a pancake my way.
I was getting hungry and hoped this lady might accidentally flip a pancake my way.
Guys in wheelchairs shoot hoops behind the Rotary float.
Guys in wheelchairs shoot hoops behind the Rotary float.
Another hero is celebrated. He represents The Distinguished Flying Cross Society.
Another hero is celebrated. He represents The Distinguished Flying Cross Society.
There were lots of parade participants on horseback.
There were lots of parade participants on horseback.
Another American Veteran is saluted. I saw many members of The Greatest Generation being thanked for their service long ago.
Another American veteran is saluted. I saw many members of The Greatest Generation being thanked for their service long ago.
More pageantry, another marching band.
More pageantry, another marching band.
Members of the United States Navy march past.
Members of the United States Navy march past.
A flag held high greets passing musicians.
A flag held high greets passing musicians.
A beauty queen smiles and waves.
A beauty queen, seeing my camera, smiles and waves!
People watch the big parade from a building on Orange Avenue.
People watch the big parade from a building on Orange Avenue.
Flags everywhere.
Flags everywhere.

This blog now features thousands of photos around San Diego! Are you curious? There’s lots of cool stuff to check out!

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Navy Bicentennial Commemorative Plaque–cleaned!

San Diego's historic Navy Bicentennial Commemorative Plaque has been cleaned!
San Diego’s historic Navy Bicentennial Commemorative Plaque has been cleaned!

Look what I spotted recently during a walk along the Embarcadero. The historic Navy Bicentennial Commemorative Plaque, part of the Greatest Generation Walk near the USS Midway Museum, has been beautifully cleaned. The corrosion is gone!

Whoever is responsible–it looks great!

The fascinating origin of this once mysterious Navy plaque, forged in 1975 on fleet repair ship USS Ajax, was revealed here.

In that blog post you can see a photo of the old corrosion, which has now been removed!

Navajo Code Talkers at Marine aviation museum.

Photo of Samuel Tsosie Sr., Navajo Code Talker during World War II.
Photo of Samuel Tsosie Sr., Navajo Code Talker during World War II.

A small but fascinating exhibit remembering the Navajo Code Talkers of World War II is currently on display at the Flying Leatherneck Aviation Museum in San Diego. The exhibition, titled CELEBRATING 75 YEARS – CODE TALKERS: THE NAVAJO WEAPON, contains photos, documents, uniforms and historical artifacts that describe how the Navajo language was used to develop a code for secret tactical communication in the Pacific, in places like Iwo Jima and Okinawa. The Navajo code, which was classified until 1968, is the only spoken military code that was never deciphered.

The exhibit explains:

Many scholars credit Philip Johnston with initiating the Code Talker idea. Johnston was a Caucasian who grew up in Leupp, Arizona on the Navajo Reservation. He approached the Marine Corps in 1942 after the attack on Pearl Harbor and proposed using Native American Navajo language for combat communications.

His knowledge of the Navajo culture led him to bring four Navajo volunteers to Camp Elliott in San Diego, California (an area that is now part of MCAS-Miramar) for a demonstration. Impressed with successful and efficient English and Navajo translations, the Marine Corps began recruiting Navajos. The first group of twenty-nine recruits entered boot camp, took courses in military communication procedures and developed the code. Approximately 400 Navajo recruited by the Marines learned the code.

Working around the clock during the first two days of Iwo Jima, six Navajo Code Talkers sent and received over 800 messages, all without error. According to Major Howard Connor, 5th Marine Division Signal Officer, “Were it not for the Navajos, the Marines would never have taken Iwo Jima”.

The Flying Leatherneck Aviation Museum is free and open to the public at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar. The museum grounds contains over two dozen aircraft used during the proud history of Marine Corps aviation. It has the world’s largest and most complete collection of vintage aircraft flown by United States Marine pilots.

The museum is looking to expand and I’m told they would really appreciate your help. For more info, click here.

Celebrating 75 Years - Code Talkers: The Navajo Weapon. The Marine Corps deployed the Code Talkers to the Pacific, where the code proved effective and indecipherable.
Celebrating 75 Years – Code Talkers: The Navajo Weapon. The Marine Corps deployed the Code Talkers to the Pacific, where the code proved effective and indecipherable. (Click photo to expand for easy reading.)
The first 29 Code Talkers enlisting in the United States Marine Corps, 1942.
The first 29 Code Talkers enlisting in the United States Marine Corps, 1942.
First 29 Code Talkers of 382nd Platoon, 1942.
First 29 Code Talkers of 382nd Platoon, 1942.
Navajo Code Talkers Henry Bahe and George Kirk working their radio in the jungles of Bougainville.
Navajo Code Talkers Henry Bahe and George Kirk working their radio in the jungles of Bougainville.
Eight Navajo Code Talkers on Bougainville. Most hold an M1 Garand used in combat.
Eight Navajo Code Talkers on Bougainville. Most hold an M1 Garand used in combat.
Display case in the special Flying Leatherneck Aviation Museum exhibit includes military field equipment used by the Navajo Code Talkers during World War II.
Display case in this special Flying Leatherneck Aviation Museum exhibit includes military field equipment used by the Navajo Code Talkers during World War II.
The EE-8 Field Telephone/Radio was used by the Signal Corps from before World War II through the Vietnam War.
The EE-8 Field Telephone/Radio was used by the Signal Corps from before World War II through the Vietnam War.
Navajo Code Talkers share their culture at Camp Elliott, 1943.
Navajo Code Talkers share their culture at Camp Elliott, 1943.
One of four creators of the code, Navajo Code Talker Chester Nez.
One of four creators of the code, Navajo Code Talker Chester Nez.
Navajo Code Talker PFC Carl Gorman mans his observation post overlooking Garapan Saipan, 1944.
Navajo Code Talker PFC Carl Gorman mans his observation post overlooking Garapan Saipan, 1944.
This enlisted man's uniform jacket, shirt and tie belonged to Samuel Tsosie Sr. The Guadalcanal patch was worn on discharge uniforms by all Navajo Code Talkers.
This enlisted man’s uniform jacket, shirt and tie belonged to Samuel Tsosie Sr. The Guadalcanal patch was worn on discharge uniforms by all Navajo Code Talkers.
Navajo Code Talker Samuel Tsosie Sr., pictured with Alfred M. Gray Jr. during an award assembly in 2009. Gray served as the 29th Commandant of the Marine Corps from 1987-1991.
Navajo Code Talker Samuel Tsosie Sr., pictured with Alfred M. Gray Jr. during an award assembly in 2009. Gray served as the 29th Commandant of the Marine Corps from 1987-1991.
Official uniform of the Navajo Code Talkers includes a red cap, Navajo jewelry, gold shirt, patch on upper arm, light-colored trousers and abalone-colored shoes.
Official uniform of the Navajo Code Talkers includes a red cap, Navajo jewelry, gold shirt, patch on upper arm, light-colored trousers and abalone-colored shoes.

The museum exhibit explains the significance of various items worn by the Navajo Code Talkers.

The red cap indicates the United States Marine Corps. The jewelry represents the Navajo or Diné, which translates “Children of God” or “The People”. The gold shirt represents corn pollen. The light-colored trousers represent Mother Earth. The abalone-colored shoes represents the sacred mountains.

Replica of Congressional Silver Medal represents the medal received by Samuel Tsosie Sr. for his service during World War II. 300 Navajo received the Silver medal.
Replica of Congressional Silver Medal represents the medal received by Samuel Tsosie Sr. for his service during World War II. 300 Navajo received the Silver medal.
Shoulder patch of U.S. Marine Corps--WWII Navajo Code Talkers Association.
Shoulder patch of U.S. Marine Corps–WWII Navajo Code Talkers Association.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! You’ll find many interesting historical photographs!

Sculpted faces of Greatest Generation at night.

A crew member of U.S.S. San Diego, representing all United States sailors who served their country during World War II.
Sculpted face of a crew member of the U.S.S. San Diego, representing all United States sailors who served their country during World War II.

Yesterday evening, after dark, I walked along the Embarcadero. When I arrived at the Greatest Generation Walk, I paused to gaze at the various illuminated memorials and monuments. I was struck at how light reflected from the bronze figures of military heroes, highlighting their expressive faces.

I took many photos of those faces. I kept my flash off. Some of the faces were insufficiently lit for my camera, but the photographs you see here, of mostly ordinary people courageously serving our country–primarily in World War II–came out quite well. I sharpened the images a bit, but that’s all.

The first photo was taken at the U.S.S. San Diego (CL-53) Memorial, created by artists Eugene Daub and Louis Quaintance.

The next seven photographs were taken at the National Salute to Bob Hope and the Military, created by artists Eugene Daub and Steven Whyte.

The next three photographs were taken at the Homecoming sculpture, created by artist Stanley Bleifeld.

The final two photographs were taken at the Aircraft Carrier Memorial, which was created by artists T.J. Dixon and James Nelson.

Bob Hope as he appeared in the 1940s, entertaining the troops on a USO tour.
Bob Hope as he appeared in the 1940s, entertaining the troops on a USO tour.
A World War II Marine Corps Sergeant depicted as a patient from the 44th Field Hospital.
A World War II Marine Corps Sergeant depicted as a patient from the 44th Field Hospital.
A World War II naval aviator.
A World War II naval aviator.
A Korean War sailor.
A Korean War sailor.
World War II Navy Machinist Mate John Ibe, who survived the loss of the USS St. Lo during the Battle of Leyte Gulf.
World War II Navy Machinist Mate John Ibe, who survived the loss of the USS St. Lo during the Battle of Leyte Gulf.
Korean War Private from the 45th Infantry Division.
Korean War Private from the 45th Infantry Division.
A World War II fighter pilot. One of the Tuskegee Airmen.
A World War II fighter pilot. One of the Tuskegee Airmen.
A sailor embraces his wife upon his return from a deployment far from home.
A sailor embraces his wife upon his return from a deployment far from home.
A supportive wife hugs her sailor husband.
A supportive wife hugs her sailor husband.
Love endures.
Love endures.
A sailor who serves aboard an aircraft carrier.
A sailor who serves aboard an aircraft carrier.
A naval aviator who flies from an aircraft carrier.
A naval aviator who flies from an aircraft carrier.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of photos for you to share and enjoy!

San Diego Air and Space Museum’s PT-22 hits the road!

A shiny PT-22 military trainer aircraft from the World War II era is about to be towed from the San Diego Air and Space Museum to their annex at Gillespie Field.
A shiny PT-22 military trainer aircraft from the World War II era is about to be towed from the San Diego Air and Space Museum to their annex at Gillespie Field!

Another unexpected cool sight! I was walking around the San Diego Air and Space Museum in Balboa Park this morning when I spied a mysterious airplane wing being carried into the rear of the museum’s historic Ford Building! What was it?

I spoke to a nice guy overseeing the movement of two museum aircraft and found out!

The museum’s Boeing P-26 “Peashooter” had just returned from a year-long stint in Seattle, where it was featured in the Boeing Centennial. And to make room, a vintage PT-22 military trainer was being sent to Gillespie Field. The San Diego Air and Space Museum has an annex at Gillespie Field, which I suppose I’ll have to visit someday. (Yes, it was a PT-22 that Harrison Ford was flying when he crashed a couple years ago at a golf course!)

As I walked through Balboa Park, I spied a wing vanishing into the San Diego Air and Space Museum. It belongs to a Boeing P-26 Peashooter, which was on loan for a year in Seattle for the Boeing Centennial.
As I walked through Balboa Park, I spied a wing vanishing into the San Diego Air and Space Museum. It belongs to a Boeing P-26 “Peashooter”, which was on loan for a year in Seattle for the Boeing Centennial.
These yellow wings in the San Diego Air and Space Museum truck are heading to Gillespie Field in East County. They are part of a PT-22 airplane.
These yellow wings in the San Diego Air and Space Museum truck are heading to Gillespie Field in East County. In preparation for land transport, they have been detached from a PT-22 airplane.
The PT-22 was gleaming in the sunlight and I had to take a closer look.
The PT-22 is almost ready to be towed.  The plane was gleaming in the sunlight and I had to take a closer look.
Photo of the cockpit of the Air and Space Museum's PT-22.
Photo of the cockpit of the San Diego Air and Space Museum’s PT-22.
A cool, unexpected sight in the parking lot behind the San Diego Air and Space Museum!
A cool, unexpected sight in the parking lot behind the San Diego Air and Space Museum!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of fun photos for you to share and enjoy!

UPDATE! Creators of San Diego’s Navy Bicentennial plaque.

Corroded plaque shows tallship, ironclad, early warship, aircraft carrier and jets.
Corroded plaque shows tallship, ironclad, early warship, aircraft carrier and jets.

I have received more information about the origin of the Navy Bicentennial plaque situated on San Diego’s Embarcadero near the USS Midway Museum.

Last September, I published the blog Help solve a Navy mystery in San Diego. This fascinating plaque is passed by thousands walking along our waterfront every day. It’s located on the Greatest Generation Walk among other military memorials and monuments, but even today there is no public information about what the plaque is or where it came from.

After emailing the Port of San Diego, last October I published the blog Unknown Navy plaque: Mystery partially solved!  I’d been sent information that included a detailed description of the plaque.  I also learned that the plaque had been moved from the Broadway Pier.  But the exact origin remained unknown.

Then, out of the blue, two amazing things have happened.  Cool San Diego Sights has received comments shedding light on the actual people who created this very important, historical plaque.

The first comment I received went:

My name is William Abell and I was an ML3 aboard the USS Ajax AR6 and I helped create this plaque in the ship’s foundry in 1975. I have a certificate from Admiral J L Holloway III commemorating the plaque’s creation and my part in its creation. The date on the certificate is Oct 13, 1975. The plaque was to be a gift to the City of San Diego. I am now a retired police commander living in Monroe WA.

The second comment I received yesterday morning.  It directed my attention to this blog post:

I am Molder Chief Petty Officer Jesse G. Lopez USN Ret. The foundry crew from Navy Repair Ship USS Ajax AR-6, created the pattern which was made by Patternmaker Chief Carlos De Santiago USN RET and molded by myself when I was a MLFN. Petty Officer Abell was our Third Class in charge of the molders.

AMAZING UPDATE!

I’ve received detailed information about the plaque, including photographs of its creation and creators! Click here!

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