Photos of cool aviation event at Gillespie Field!

Someone looks at a restored North American L-17 aircraft on display at Gillespie Field during a special Air Group One event.
Someone looks at a restored North American L-17 airplane on display at Gillespie Field during a special Air Group One event.

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!

Read the photo captions to learn more!

Checking out a row of shiny restored aircraft from the World War II era.
Checking out a row of shiny restored aircraft from the World War II era.
People were riding vintage military planes that helped the Allies to win World War II.
People were riding vintage military planes that helped the Allies to win World War II.
A banner explains that Air Group One's restored SNJ-5 is available for warbird rides for those who love the sound and feel of vintage round engines.
A banner explains that Air Group One’s restored SNJ-5 is available for warbird rides for those who love the sound and feel of vintage round engines.
Someone leaves the cockpit of "Sassy" after a ride around "The Patch" of Gillespie Field in El Cajon.
Someone leaves the cockpit of “Sassy” after a ride “around the patch” at Gillespie Field in El Cajon.
This golf cart was modified to look like a tiny jet airplane! It even has a tailhook!
This golf cart was modified to look like a tiny jet airplane! It even has a tailhook!
Guys hang out beside a 1943 Ford GPW that was assigned to Captain Victor Lucky Moen of the 13th AAF on Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands, during World War II.
Guys hang out beside a 1943 Ford GPW that was assigned to Captain Victor “Lucky” Moen of the 13th AAF on Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands, during World War II.
I was surprised to see several old farm tractors out on display among the airplanes!
I was surprised to see several old farm tractors out on display among the aircraft!
Several restored Beechcraft T-34 Mentor aircraft were out on the Gillespie Field tarmac. These planes served as versatile military trainers after World War II.
Several restored Beechcraft T-34 Mentor aircraft were out on the Gillespie Field tarmac. These planes served as versatile military trainers after World War II.
This super nice guy was a pilot for the United States Air Force. He now flies T-34 aircraft as a member of the March Field Aero Club in Riverside.
This super nice guy was a pilot for the United States Air Force. He now flies T-34 aircraft as a member of the March Field Aero Club in Riverside.
Visitors to Air Group One's first ever Warbird Expo and Militaria Swap Meet check out more vintage airplanes at Gillespie Field.
Visitors to Air Group One’s first ever Warbird Expo and Militaria Swap Meet check out more vintage airplanes at Gillespie Field.
This Stearman (Boeing) Model 75 biplane from the World War II era was painted to honor victims of 9/11.
This Stearman (Boeing) Model 75 biplane from the World War II era was painted to honor victims of 9/11.
Victims of the September 11 attacks are remembered on either side of the historical airplane.
Victims of the September 11 attacks are remembered on either side of the historical airplane.
American Airlines Flight 11 and Flight 77.
American Airlines Flight 11 and Flight 77.
United Airlines Flight 175 and Flight 93.
United Airlines Flight 175 and Flight 93.
This particular 1945 Stearman PT-17, an Army primary trainer, was the last airplane owned and flown by legendary actor Steve McQueen. The N number N-3188 was McQueen's reform school number!
This particular 1945 Stearman PT-17, an Army primary trainer, was the last airplane owned and flown by legendary actor Steve McQueen. The N number N-3188 was McQueen’s reform school number!
Looking into the rear cockpit of Steve McQueen's old Stearman PT-17.
Looking into the rear cockpit of Steve McQueen’s old Stearman PT-17.
I saw lots of cool artwork at the Expo.
I saw lots of cool artwork at the Expo.
All sorts of miscellaneous aviation antiques, gear and parts were for sale at some swap meet tables.
All sorts of miscellaneous aviation antiques, gear and parts were for sale at some swap meet tables.
Many books could be found, including one about the history of soaring in San Diego.
Many books could be found, including one about the history of soaring in San Diego.
Aviation souvenirs and stuff for sale at the swap meet included pins and patches.
Aviation souvenirs and collectibles for sale at the swap meet included pins and patches.
Lots of vintage cars were also on display. The San Diego Model A Club was well represented.
Lots of vintage cars were also on display. The San Diego Model A Club was well represented.
Other vehicles at the event included an old San Diego Police paddy wagon and a unique patrol car and taxi combo that discourages drinking and driving.
Other vehicles at the event included an old San Diego Police paddy wagon and an eye-catching San Diego Police Museum patrol car/taxi combo that discourages drinking and driving.
Keep 'em Flying.
Keep ’em Flying.
Checking out a Ryan STM-2 manufactured in San Diego in 1940. It now belongs to the Allen Airways Flying Museum at Gillespie Field.
Checking out a Ryan STM-2 manufactured in San Diego in 1940. It now belongs to the Allen Airways Flying Museum at Gillespie Field.

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Padres military heroes honored at Petco Park.

Display inside Petco Park's Power Alley honors Manuel P. Hernandez of San Diego. Before the start of World War II he played for the Pacific Coast League Padres. He died in action fighting the Nazis in Germany.
Display inside Petco Park’s Power Alley remembers Manuel P. Hernandez of San Diego. Before the start of World War II he played for the Pacific Coast League Padres. He died in action fighting in Germany.

Exhibits that honor members of the Padres who served in the military can be found at Petco Park. Inside the Power Alley, near the large model of the USS Midway, photographs and words pay tribute to three wartime heroes in particular.

One display memorializes the only Padres player to die in combat, Manuel P. “Nay” Hernandez. Born in San Diego in 1919, he attended San Diego High School and played American Legion baseball with the San Diego Post 6 team. After becoming starting left fielder for the Pacific Coast League Padres, he was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1944, joining the 376th Infantry Regiment, 94th Infantry Division. Less than a year later he was killed in action fighting the Nazis in Germany.

Another display honors two Padres baseball legends: Ted Williams and Jerry Coleman. Both were Marine aviators during the Korean War. Ted Williams, a San Diego native who played for the PCL Padres at Lane Field, became arguably the best hitter in the history of Major League Baseball. Jerry Coleman, after playing with distinction as a New York Yankee (1949 American League Rookie of the Year and 1950 World Series MVP), became a beloved broadcaster for the San Diego Padres.

Should you ever enjoy a game or special event at Petco Park, walk through the Power Alley section behind right field and linger for a moment near this important bit of Padres history.

Manuel P. "Nay" Hernandez was born in San Diego in 1919. He graduated from San Diego High School, played semi-pro baseball, and went on to start in left field for the PCL Padres. He is the only San Diego Padres player to be killed in combat.
Manuel P. “Nay” Hernandez was born in San Diego in 1919. He graduated from San Diego High School, played semi-pro baseball, and went on to start in left field for the PCL Padres. He is the only San Diego Padres player to be killed in combat.
A nearby wall in the Power Alley lists the many Major League Baseball Players Who Served Their Country.
A nearby wall in the Power Alley lists the many Major League Baseball Players Who Served Their Country.
Historical photographs in Petco Park honor The Pride of San Diego. Two legendary Padres players, Ted Williams and Jerry Coleman, are shown on the baseball diamond and serving as pilots during the Korean War.
Historical photographs in Petco Park honor The Pride of San Diego. Two legendary Padres, Ted Williams and Jerry Coleman, are shown on the baseball diamond and serving as pilots during the Korean War.
Captain Ted Williams, USMC, manning his Marine Corps F9F-2 Panther jet in Korea, circa 1953.
Captain Ted Williams, USMC, manning his Marine Corps F9F-2 Panther jet in Korea, circa 1953.
Captain Jerry Coleman, USMC, on the wing of his Marine Corps F-4U Corsair in Korea, circa 1952.
Captain Jerry Coleman, USMC, on the wing of his Marine Corps F-4U Corsair in Korea, circa 1952.

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!

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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!

Museum displays helicopter that ended Vietnam War.

This Boeing Vertol CH-46D(E) Sea Knight military helicopter in San Diego is an object of great historical importance.
This particular Boeing Vertol CH-46D(E) Sea Knight military helicopter in San Diego is an object of great historical importance.

Many regard the evacuation of the United States Ambassador from Saigon as the end of the Vietnam War. On April 30, 1975, as ordered by President Gerald Ford, Ambassador Graham Martin was airlifted from the rooftop of the American Embassy. He had stepped aboard a Boeing Vertol CH-46D(E) Sea Knight military helicopter, call sign Lady Ace 09, flown by pilot Captain Gerry Berry.

Today the public can view Lady Ace 09 at the Flying Leatherneck Aviation Museum in San Diego.

While the Ambassador’s evacuation from the Embassy has provided a visual symbol of America’s departure from South Vietnam, the reality was a bit more chaotic. When Lady Ace 09 transmitted “Tiger is out,” indicating the Ambassador had been retrieved, other helicopter crews involved in the evacuation mistakenly thought the mission was completed. But Marine Security Guards on the Embassy’s rooftop would be lifted to safety hours later. Shortly thereafter, Communist forces would raise the Viet Cong flag over Saigon’s Presidential Palace.

The Flying Leatherneck Aviation Museum is located at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in San Diego. In addition to Lady Ace 09, over two dozen aircraft that have been flown by the United States Marines are on display. Admission is free.

The museum wants to expand. You can help! Learn more here.

The Flying Leatherneck Aviation Museum in San Diego contains many aircraft that have been used during the history of the United States Marine Corps.
The Flying Leatherneck Aviation Museum in San Diego contains many aircraft that have been used during the history of the United States Marine Corps.
At the Flying Leatherneck Aviation Museum at MCAS Miramar, the public can see the helicopter that evacuated the U.S. Ambassador from Saigon at the end of the Vietnam War.
At the Flying Leatherneck Aviation Museum at MCAS Miramar, the public can see the actual helicopter that evacuated the U.S. Ambassador from Saigon at the end of the Vietnam War.
Operation Frequent Wind, 29-30 April 1975, call sign Lady Ace 09. This Sea Knight helicopter evacuated Ambassador Graham Martin from the U.S. Embassy in Saigon, South Vietnam.
Operation Frequent Wind, 29-30 April 1975, call sign Lady Ace 09. This Sea Knight helicopter evacuated Ambassador Graham Martin from the U.S. Embassy in Saigon, South Vietnam. (Click photo to expand.)
A look at the rear of the historic helicopter that transported U.S. Ambassador Graham Martin to the safety of USS Blue Ridge (LCC-19) standing by in the South China Sea.
A look at the rear of the historic helicopter that transported U.S. Ambassador Graham Martin to the safety of USS Blue Ridge (LCC-19) standing by in the South China Sea.
The fuselage of Sea Knight troop transport helicopter, call sign Lady Ace 09.
The fuselage of Sea Knight troop transport helicopter, call sign Lady Ace 09.
At 04:58 Ambassador Martin boarded Lady Ace 09 on the rooftop of the American Embassy in Saigon. The message Tiger is out was transmitted, signaling the departure of the U.S. Ambassador.
At 04:58 Ambassador Martin boarded Lady Ace 09 on the rooftop of the American Embassy in Saigon. The message “Tiger is out” was transmitted, signaling the departure of the U.S. Ambassador.
The nose of Lady Ace 09, which today is on display at the Flying Leatherneck Aviation Museum.
The nose of Lady Ace 09, which today is on display at the Flying Leatherneck Aviation Museum.
Inside the the Flying Leatherneck Aviation Museum, visitors can see one section devoted to USMC aviators and aircraft that participated in the Vietnam War.
Inside the the Flying Leatherneck Aviation Museum, visitors can see one section devoted to USMC aviators and aircraft that participated in the Vietnam War.
One exhibit includes a map of Laos, Cambodia, and North and South Vietnam during the war.
One museum display case includes a map of Laos, Cambodia, and North and South Vietnam during the war.
Photos of Marine helicopter operations during the Vietnam War.
Photos of Marine helicopter operations during the Vietnam War.
Boeing Vertol CH-46D(E) Sea Knight, call sign Lady Ace 09, the helicopter whose historic mission is often regarded as the conclusion of the Vietnam War.
Boeing Vertol CH-46D(E) Sea Knight, call sign Lady Ace 09, the helicopter whose historic flight is often regarded as the conclusion of the Vietnam War.

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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!

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Grand entrance of downtown Army-Navy YMCA.

Front of the 1924 Army-Navy YMCA building in downtown San Diego, designed by architects Lincoln Rogers and Frank W. Stevenson.
Front of the 1924 Army-Navy YMCA building in downtown San Diego, designed by architects Lincoln Rogers and Frank W. Stevenson.

The grand entrance of the historic Army-Navy YMCA building in downtown San Diego is presently shuttered from view. That’s because the structure, built in 1924 for the recreational activities of San Diego’s many enlisted military men, is being converted into an elegant new hotel on Broadway. The Guild San Diego will open in spring 2018 and promises to offer a variety of unique features, including a ballroom inside what was once the old YMCA basketball court.

Before the present construction began, I took some photos of the columns and artwork around the building’s amazing front entrance. These images have been sitting idle in my computer. Here they are for your enjoyment.

When I took this photo, the 500 West Hotel had closed. Today a new luxury hotel, The Guild Hotel, is under construction. Much of the historic building will be preserved.
When I took this photo, the 500 West Hotel had closed. Today a new luxury destination, The Guild Hotel, is under construction. Much of the historic building will be preserved.
Some beautiful sculptural work around the front entrance.
Some beautiful sculptural work around the elegant front entrance.
I believe this represents Cabrillo's ship San Salvador, which entered San Diego Bay in 1542.
I believe this represents Cabrillo’s ship San Salvador, which entered San Diego Bay in 1542.
Part of the ornate front entrance to the landmark Army-Navy YMCA building in San Diego.
Part of the very ornate front entrance to the Army-Navy YMCA building in San Diego.

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!

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Military heroes on VFW 2422 Memorial Wall.

The Memorial Wall beside VFW Post 2422 in Coronado, California.
The Memorial Wall beside VFW Post 2422 in Coronado, California.

You can’t miss it. A proud Memorial Wall. You’ll see it near the front door of the General Henry D. Styer Post 2422 Veterans of Foreign Wars in Coronado. Tiles contain the names of heroes who served their country with honor.

Here are some photos.

Tiles on the outdoor Memorial Wall remember those who have served in the United States Armed Forces.
Tiles on the outdoor Memorial Wall remember those who have served in the United States Armed Forces.
Front of the General Henry D. Styer Post 2422 Veterans of Foreign Wars in Coronado.
Front of the General Henry D. Styer Post 2422 Veterans of Foreign Wars in Coronado.
Plaque on bench reads Dedicated to All Who Have Served or Are Serving in Support of Our Country's Freedom.
Plaque on nearby bench reads Dedicated to All Who Have Served or Are Serving in Support of Our Country’s Freedom.
Plaque at base of flagpole reads In Honor of the Coronado Men and Women Who Served in the Armed Forces in World War II.
Plaque at base of flagpole reads In Honor of the Coronado Men and Women Who Served in the Armed Forces in World War II.
Names on the Memorial Wall include United States Navy Vice Admiral James B. Stockdale.
Names on the Memorial Wall include United States Navy Vice Admiral James B. Stockdale.
Painted on three small stones are words of Thank You for the service of heroes.
Painted on three small stones are words of Thank You for the service of heroes.

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!

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