Memorial Day flowers in Balboa Park.

After my visit to La Mesa today, I found myself in Balboa Park for another Sunday afternoon walk.

I kept looking right and left for an indication that this is Memorial Day weekend. I had to go to the Veterans Museum and Memorial Center to find it.

Even though the museum was closed when I walked past, I noticed fresh flowers and a wreath had been placed at its outdoor San Diego Vietnam Veterans Peace Memorial.

Those who fought and died in that terrible war are still remembered.

If you’d like to see photos of an emotional Memorial Day ceremony that was held at the San Diego Peace Memorial four years ago, click here.

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!

Letters Home: A fallen soldier and a memorial.

I’ve photographed many monuments that remember those who’ve fallen in war.

At the Veterans Memorial in Vista, California, the powerful monument to one particular soldier can easily bring you to tears.

Please look at the following images, read the two random letters that I photographed leading to the sculpture, then the plaque that describes the life and death of a young person who simply wanted to serve. Click those photos and they will enlarge for easier reading.

Veterans Memorial Park was created by the Pinamonti family to honor Ernie, son and brother, who was killed in the Vietnam War.

Sculpture at Veterans Memorial, by artist Rip Caswell, 2016.
Sculpture at Veterans Memorial, by artist Rip Caswell, 2016.

Dear Family, Today we are starting our first day of training...Mail call is the best part of the day and I really look forward to it...I miss everyone a great deal and I read the letters over and over. Sincerely, Ernie
Dear Family, Today we are starting our first day of training…Mail call is the best part of the day and I really look forward to it…I miss everyone a great deal and I read the letters over and over. Sincerely, Ernie

Dear Ernie...If there is anything you need, just ask and we will send it to you...Remember to write every couple days so I don't worry about you. Be good and take care of yourself. I miss you. Love, Mother
Dear Ernie…If there is anything you need, just ask and we will send it to you…Remember to write every couple days so I don’t worry about you. Be good and take care of yourself. I miss you. Love, Mother

Flag flies above Veterans Memorial Park in Vista, California.
Flag flies above Veterans Memorial Park in Vista, California.

On May 15, 1969, our family was forever changed by the knock on the front door that brought news that our 19 year old brother, Ernie, had died of wounds received while assisting a fellow soldier...
On May 15, 1969, our family was forever changed by the knock on the front door that brought news that our 19 year old brother, Ernie, had died of wounds received while assisting a fellow soldier…

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 photographs.

Scenes from Memorial Day in San Diego.

This morning I went to a Memorial Day ceremony at the San Diego Vietnam Peace Memorial, next to Balboa Park’s Veterans Museum. Representatives from San Diego’s Vietnamese community attended. They presented a wreath in remembrance. A beautiful new POW/MIA monument was revealed. (See my previous blog post.)

I and others then boarded an Old Town Trolley Tours bus. We were driven by our amazing Vietnam veteran driver Sam to Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery. There we attended the 119th Memorial Service and Day of Remembrance.

We heard deeply felt tributes to those who have served and sacrificed. Many wreaths were presented. Hearts poured out.

Thousand of tiny flags fluttered in the sea breeze.

Come along with me…

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!

POW/MIA monument unveiled at Veterans Museum.

A beautiful new POW/MIA monument was unveiled today at the San Diego Vietnam Peace Memorial, outside the Veterans Museum in Balboa Park.

During a moving Memorial Day ceremony, a black cloth concealing the monument was removed, revealing a gorgeous mosaic showing the American flag, a soaring eagle, and at the center the POW/MIA emblem. The artists who created the mosaics at the Vietnam War Memorial in La Mesa were also responsible for this stunning work.

In a stirring speech we learned that the remains of 67 missing in action were identified and brought home in the last year. Those who lost their lives on our nation’s behalf will not be left behind.

And they will never be forgotten.

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!

Photos of Vietnam War Memorial in La Mesa.

At the center of La Mesa's HYFD Vietnam Memorial Park stands a three-sided monument containing many plaques.
At the center of La Mesa’s HYFD Vietnam Memorial Park stands a three-sided monument containing many plaques.

A beautiful memorial in La Mesa remembers Vietnam Veterans who gave their lives for their country. The Heartland Youth for Decency Vietnam Memorial Park was originally built in 1970, then restored and rededicated in 2014. It can be found at the corner of University Avenue and Nebo Drive.

A community group of young people called Heartland Youth for Decency (HYFD) built the monument at a time when there was a great deal of contention about the Vietnam War. Its purpose was to honor veterans from San Diego’s East County who were killed during that horrible war.

Here are photos that I took today. The small Memorial Park can seem lost in the endless hustle and bustle of surrounding streets. But words that speak of courage, grief and honor stand quietly waiting, for any who wish to see.

Read the captions for a bit more description.

Flags fly in the January breeze. A helmet atop a cross, signifying those killed during the Vietnam War.
Flags fly in the January breeze. A helmet atop a cross, signifying those killed during the Vietnam War.

Greater Love Hath No Man... Heartland Area Vietnam Deaths
Greater Love Hath No Man… Heartland Area Vietnam Deaths

We of Heartland Youth for Decency dedicate this monument to the young men from our own generation who have given their lives that we might be free.
We of Heartland Youth for Decency dedicate this monument to the young men from our own generation who have given their lives that we might be free.

A man died for me today...
A man died for me today…

A beautiful tile mosaic bench in the park with American flag and peace sign.
A colorful tile mosaic bench in the park with American flag and peace sign.

A second bench has a star at either end.
A second bench has a star at either end.

A bald eagle, symbol of the United States. Freedom Is Not Free.
A bald eagle, symbol of the United States. Freedom Is Not Free.

A simple, emotionally powerful letter at the base of the flagpole. ...Most of all, Father, I love you.
A simple, emotionally powerful letter at the base of the flagpole. …Most of all, Father, I love you.

To one side stands the POW/MIA Empty Chair. And the words: Lest We Forget.
To one side stands the POW/MIA Empty Chair. And the words: Lest We Forget.

Powerful symbols in a small La Mesa park.
Powerful symbols in a small La Mesa park.

American eagle and flag mosaic art on rear of the POW/MIA Empty Chair is by the Rainforest Art Project.
American eagle and flag mosaic art on rear of the POW/MIA Empty Chair is by the Rainforest Art Project.

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 enjoy!

A visit to the Flying Leatherneck Aviation Museum.

Douglas F4D-1 (F-6A) Skyray.
Douglas F4D-1 (F-6A) Skyray.

I often drive down Miramar Road past the Flying Leatherneck Aviation Museum. When I do, I usually turn my head to see if any people are outside investigating the dozens of unique military aircraft that are on display. Few people seem to visit.

The Flying Leatherneck Aviation Museum, located at MCAS Miramar, is open free to the general public. It features all sorts of airplanes and helicopters that have been used by the United State Marine Corps over the decades.

When I first visited the museum last year, I was floored by the extent of its collection. While many of the aircraft might not be restored to pristine condition, they each represent a fascinating era in U. S. military history. Visitors to the museum can also see other equipment that has been used by the Marines, including tanks and artillery pieces.

Most impressively, the museum owns the actual helicopter that was last to leave Saigon at the end of the Vietnam War. That Sea Knight helicopter’s call sign was Lady Ace 09. If you’d like to see photographs of Lady Ace 09, and learn a bit more about that moment in history, click here.

The following photos depict just a fraction of what you’ll discover at the museum.

The Flying Leatherneck Aviation Museum seems to be a little known gem in San Diego. Those who are interested in 20th century history, aviation or the United States Marine Corps should definitely swing on by!

The Flying Leatherneck Aviation Museum, open free to the public, is located at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar.
The Flying Leatherneck Aviation Museum, open free to the public, is located at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar.

Inside the museum, a variety of exhibits detail different modern aircraft that have been used by the United States Marine Corps.
Inside the museum, a variety of exhibits detail different aircraft that have been used by the United States Marine Corps.

Dozens of historical Marine aircraft can be viewed outdoors at the Flying Leatherneck Aviation Museum in San Diego.
Dozens of historical Marine aircraft can be viewed outdoors at the Flying Leatherneck Aviation Museum in San Diego.

Beechcraft T-34B Mentor.
Beechcraft T-34B Mentor.

General Motors FM-2 Wildcat.
General Motors FM-2 Wildcat.

Northrup F-5E Tiger II.
Northrup F-5E Tiger II.

Grumman F9F-2 Panther.
Grumman F9F-2 Panther.

Hawker-Siddeley AV-8A(C) Harrier.
Hawker-Siddeley AV-8A(C) Harrier.

Bell AH-1J SeaCobra.
Bell AH-1J SeaCobra.

Sikorsky HUS-1 (UH-34D) Seahorse.
Sikorsky HUS-1 (UH-34D) Seahorse.

Bell 214ST.
Bell 214ST.

McDonnell Douglas A-4M Skyhawk II.
McDonnell Douglas A-4M Skyhawk II.

Visitors to the Flying Leatherneck Aviation Museum learn about the history of one airplane in their large and fascinating collection.
Visitors to the Flying Leatherneck Aviation Museum learn about the history of one airplane in a very large and fascinating collection.

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 enjoy!

Inspirational photos of Memorial Day.

I had all sorts of plans for this Memorial Day weekend. But I’ve decided to rest and write. Three uninterrupted days of writing. In a quiet place.

I’ve blogged about local Memorial Day events in past years. If you’d like to see many inspirational photographs, click the following links:

Photos of Memorial Day at Mount Hope Cemetery–remembering those who perished in the Civil War.

Memorial Day at The Veterans Museum in Balboa Park–remembering those who died in the Vietnam War.

Photos of Memorial Day ceremony at Fort Rosecrans–sloping fields of flags and roses.

World War II vets honored on USS Midway–remembering the Greatest Generation.

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.

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 of interesting photos for you to check out!

Memorial Day at The Veterans Museum in Balboa Park.

Vietnamese Community of San Diego wreath stands in front of the San Diego Peace Memorial.
Vietnamese Community of San Diego wreath stands by Peace Memorial.

Today I attended two Memorial Day ceremonies.

First, in the morning, I walked up to Balboa Park.  There I joined others in remembering those who’d lost their lives in a terrible war. An emotional ceremony was held at the San Diego Vietnam Peace Memorial, which is located right next to The Veterans Museum. Special attention was given during this event to those who died serving their country during the Vietnam War.

Please forgive me. When I arrived I was in a quiet mood. I stood off to the side mostly, took no notes, snapped a photo now and then. I mostly just absorbed the speeches, the music, the flowers, so many names on bronze plaques and proud salutes by veterans in attendance. I felt a bit shy and didn’t grab a program. I regret that now. I forget the names of the speakers, and the lady who sang so beautifully.

Members of Vietnam Veterans of America, 472, were present. Before the morning program commenced, they had read names of the fallen–the Calling of the Names.

Many from the local Vietnamese community also attended. Some among them had fought in the war.

I remember that the keynote speech was very clear and very powerful. It was about service, and courage, and liberty, and friendship, and pain, and sacrifice, and history. It acknowledged the horror of war. Those who fought would rather have been at home in peace. All gave some; some gave all.

Those whose names are eternally engraved on the Peace Memorial have earned the gratitude of many.

Here are a few photos.

Flags are presented.
Flags are readied.

Salutes.
Salutes.

A dignified program commences. The Vietnam War is remembered, and those who fell during the conflict are honored.
A dignified program commences. The Vietnam War is remembered, and those who fell during the conflict are honored.

Speeches recall the harsh realities of war, and the democratic ideals many fought to defend.
Speeches recall the harsh realities of war, and the democratic ideals many fought to defend.

All quietly listen, some remember.
All quietly listen, some remember.

Joyful, triumphant singing. America the Beautiful.
Joyful, triumphant singing. America the Beautiful.

Love for country. Young and old salute.
Love for country. Young and old salute.

A folded flag above the plaque marking the Vietnam Veterans Peace Memorial in Balboa Park.
A folded flag above the plaque marking the Vietnam Veterans Peace Memorial in Balboa Park.

Names of San Diegans who were killed or designated missing in action during the Vietnam War fill half a dozen bronze plaques.
Names of San Diegans who were killed or designated missing in action during the Vietnam War fill half a dozen bronze plaques.

Flags, flowers and photos. A loved family member.
Flags, flowers and photos. A loved family member.

On March 7, 1971, at the age of 21, David Jesus Naranjo perished in the service of our country in South Vietnam, Quang Nam.
On March 7, 1971, at the age of 21, David Jesus Naranjo perished in the service of our country in South Vietnam, Quang Nam.

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!

Tour of San Diego Navy ships from old Swift Boat.

The restored Swift Boat, PCF-816 approaches the Maritime Museum of San Diego on downtown's waterfront.
The restored Swift Boat, PCF-816 approaches the Maritime Museum of San Diego on downtown’s waterfront.

Last weekend I embarked on a very unique boat adventure on San Diego Bay. Enjoying sunshine and a cool ocean breeze, I sat outside on the Maritime Museum of San Diego’s restored Swift Boat, and took in various interesting sights during an approximately one hour tour.

PCF-816 is a small Mark ll Patrol Craft Fast “Swift Boat” that was originally used in San Diego (1968-1969) to train sailors before they were deployed to fight in the Vietnam War. In 1971 the vessel was donated to the Republic of Malta, where it was used to patrol their coast. In 2012 the beat up boat returned to San Diego.  After many hours of work by volunteers, it was carefully restored to it’s present fine condition. You might note in the photos that she still flies the Maltese flag.

If you’re fascinated by tacking sailboats, arching bridges and sprawling shipyards, interested in military history or modern Navy ships, or just want to enjoy a cruise on San Diego Bay, you might enjoy this tour!

Inside the museum's steam ferry Berkeley, visitors check out informative exhibits as they wait to board the Swift Boat.
Inside the Maritime Museum’s steam ferry Berkeley, visitors check out informative exhibits as they wait to board the old Swift Boat.

With the introduction of Swift Boats into the Coastal Surveillance Forces of the Navy in 1965, the Naval Amphibious Base in Coronado became a major training center for Swift Boat crews.
With the introduction of Swift Boats into the Coastal Surveillance Forces of the Navy in 1965, the Naval Amphibious Base in Coronado became a major training center for Swift Boat crews.

Patrol Craft Fast (PCF) was the U.S. Navy's official name for a Swift Boat. They were small, shallow draft water vessels operated for counterinsurgency operations during the Vietnam War.
Patrol Craft Fast (PCF) was the U.S. Navy’s official name for a Swift Boat. They were small, shallow draft water vessels operated for counterinsurgency operations during the Vietnam War.

People board the Vietnam-era boat from the Maritime Museum's docked steam yacht Medea.
People board the old Vietnam War-era boat from the Maritime Museum’s docked steam yacht Medea.

We cast off and begin a partial tour of the bay, including enormous shipyards and many San Diego Navy ships.
We cast off and begin a partial tour of the bay, including enormous shipyards and many San Diego Navy ships.

A museum volunteer narrates our tour and points out some of the unique sights on San Diego Bay.
A museum volunteer narrates our tour and points out some of the unique sights on San Diego Bay.

No matter what boat or ship you choose, a cruise of the bay is both relaxing and invigorating.
No matter what boat or ship you choose, a cruise of the big bay is both relaxing and invigorating.

We pass under the immense bow of the USS Midway aircraft carrier, which is also a super popular and fascinating museum.
We pass under the immense bow of the USS Midway aircraft carrier, which is also a super popular museum.

We pass a sailboat and begin under the Coronado Bay Bridge. We are approaching San Diego's very large, busy shipyards.
We pass a sailboat and begin under the Coronado Bay Bridge. We are approaching San Diego’s very large, busy shipyards.

A huge Navy ship in dry dock at BAE Systems’ San Diego shipyard. NASSCO and Continental Maritime also have enormous yards on the bay.
A huge Navy ship in dry dock at BAE Systems’ San Diego shipyard. NASSCO and Continental Maritime also have enormous yards on the bay.

The gigantic gray ship is the USNS Lewis B. Puller. The first of its kind, it's a forward staging base that will act as a floating base or transfer station.
The gigantic gray ship is the USNS Lewis B. Puller. The first of its kind, it’s a forward staging base that will act as a floating base or transfer station.

USNS Bob Hope is another huge ship! She's a vehicle cargo ship used for Army vehicle prepositioning, She's the only Navy vessel to be named after entertainer Bob Hope.
USNS Bob Hope is also huge! She’s a vehicle cargo ship used for Army vehicle prepositioning, She’s the only Navy vessel to be named after legendary entertainer Bob Hope.

That unique ship in the middle is a new Independence-class littoral combat ship. USS Coronado is a trimaran, which allows it to operate in shallow water.
That unique ship in the middle is a new Independence-class littoral combat ship. USS Coronado is a trimaran, which allows it to operate in shallow coastal water.

USS Essex is an enormous United States Navy Wasp-class amphibious assault ship based in San Diego.
USS Essex is an enormous United States Navy Wasp-class amphibious assault ship based in San Diego.

Naval Base San Diego (also called 32nd Street Naval Station) occupies a long stretch of South Bay. It's the largest United States Navy base on the west coast.
Naval Base San Diego (also called 32nd Street Naval Station) occupies a long stretch of South Bay. It’s the largest United States Navy base on the west coast.

Guy enjoying the tour dons helmet and mans the Swift Boat's old 50 caliber machine gun, which is mounted over a 81mm mortar.
Guy enjoying the tour dons helmet and mans the Swift Boat’s 50 caliber machine gun, which is mounted over a 81mm mortar on the boat’s rear deck.

A pith military helmet once worn by Viet Cong soldiers is passed around for the passengers to examine.
A pith military helmet once worn by Viet Cong soldiers is passed around for the passengers to examine.

A watchful seagull and lazy sea lion share a harbor buoy on calm, sunny San Diego Bay.
A watchful seagull and lazy sea lion share a harbor buoy on calm, sunny San Diego Bay.

Heading back toward downtown San Diego, we learn more about the history of Swift Boat training in San Diego.
Heading back toward downtown San Diego, we learn more about the history of Swift Boat training in our fascinating city.

After docking, I get a quick pic of the Mark ll Swift Boat's small pilot house.
After docking, I get a quick pic of the Mark ll Swift Boat’s small pilot house.

Swift Boat, PCF-816 is one of many interesting, diverse vessels in the Maritime Museum's collection.
Swift Boat, PCF-816 is one of many interesting, diverse vessels in the Maritime Museum of San Diego’s collection.

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