Medieval knights mock fight in Balboa Park!

Look what I watched today!

Every Sunday afternoon, on a large area of grass in Balboa Park’s Morley Field Sports Complex, medieval knights come together and engage in mock combat! These brave knights hail from the Realm of Andor. They are a part of the international Belegarth Medieval Combat Society.

Wielding foam weapons like swords, maces and battle axes, these guys get a super fun athletic workout. I was told by a friendly member of the Realm of Andor that the sport is like a mixture of fencing and rugby, with fairly simple rules. When a combatant receives a strike to a critical area, they fall down as if dead. A hit on a limb results in a loss of its use. Two limbs gone, you’re a goner. The last one standing wins!

I watched as the combatants veered all over the place, swinging a variety of formidable ancient weapons. Two or three knights would gang up on another; others would be struck by a sneaky knight from behind. Some of the members, in their cool costumes and bearing shields, appeared to be rampaging extras in the filming of Lord of the Rings. Many make their own weapons. It’s all about fantasy and high energy fun!

If you’d like to learn more, or perhaps join, check out their website!

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 inside the great cabin of HMS Surprise.

The stern of HMS Surprise, the beautiful ship used in the filming of Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, starring Russell Crowe.
The stern of HMS Surprise, the beautiful ship used in the filming of Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, starring Russell Crowe.

If you’ve watched the memorable movie Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, you might recall the fictional British warship HMS Surprise was center stage for most of the film, which was set during the Napoleonic Wars.

The Maritime Museum of San Diego is now home to the working ship that was used in the filming of Master and Commander. Originally built in 1970 as a replica of the HMS Rose, a British 24-gun frigate from 1757, the ship was purchased by 20th Century Fox in 2001 and modified to appear in scenes in the 2003 film. Because of its starring role in Master and Commander, the ship was subsequently re-registered as HMS Surprise.

The critically acclaimed movie, starring Russell Crowe as Captain Jack Aubrey and Paul Bettany as Dr. Stephen Maturin, was based on a series of popular novels written by Patrick O’Brien. Russell Crowe has been lobbying for a sequel for over a decade now. According to what I’ve heard, there’s a possibility the sequel might finally be made.

The museum recently debuted a new exhibit aboard HMS Surprise called Man-of-War, and along with many new signs on the main deck and gun deck, the captain’s great cabin is now open to the public. (You can see other aspects of the new Man-of-War exhibit here. Clicking the link will take you to a past blog post concerning HMS Surprise, where I’ve added updated photographs.)

Several memorable scenes in the movie take place inside the great cabin. Among others, you might recall scenes of officers dining and strategizing as they pursue the French privateer Acheron around Cape Horn to the Galapagos Islands, and of Captain Jack Aubrey and Dr. Stephen Maturin playing the violin and cello.

While I’ve been told much of the filming of Master and Commander was done on movie sets, the great cabin visitors see on the working ship HMS Surprise is much like the one portrayed in the movie.

The great cabin of HMS Surprise is now open to the public. Several displays provide interesting information.
The great cabin of HMS Surprise is now open to the public. Several displays provide interesting information.
Sign reads the Great Cabin in the stern of the Surprise was reserved for the captain's use. Here he slept, held council with his officers, and entertained his invited guests.
Sign reads the Great Cabin in the stern of the Surprise was reserved for the captain’s use. Here he slept, held council with his officers, and entertained his invited guests.
Photo inside the great cabin of HMS Surprise. In real life the space feels cramped and the table is small. The large stern windows are a familiar sight in the movie.
Photo inside the great cabin of HMS Surprise. In real life the space feels cramped and the table is small. The large stern windows are a familiar sight in the movie.
Unlike most of the crew, the captain enjoyed wine and ate in style.
Unlike most of the crew, the captain enjoyed wine and ate in style.
Historically, guns were deployed in the great cabin during battles at sea. To make room, furniture was removed and placed in a longboat which was then towed behind the ship!
Historically, guns were deployed in the great cabin during battles at sea. To make room for the gunners, the furniture was removed and placed in a longboat which was then towed behind the ship!
Another photo inside the great cabin of HMS Surprise.
Another photo inside the great cabin of HMS Surprise.
Photo on wall recalls a scene in Master and Commander. Captain Jack Aubrey shares a toast with ship's doctor and officers.
Photo on wall recalls a scene in Master and Commander. Captain Jack Aubrey shares a toast with ship’s doctor and officers.
A display in the great cabin concerns prize money and medals. After a victorious battle, captains and crews were rewarded by the British government.
A display in the great cabin concerns prize money and medals. After a victorious battle, captains and crews were rewarded by the British government.
Gun on the starboard side of the great cabin, next to a chest and swords hung at the ready in case the ship was boarded by the enemy, or sailors mutiny.
Gun on the starboard side of the great cabin, next to a chest and swords hung at the ready in case the ship was boarded by the enemy, or sailors mutiny.
A violin on a stand. The favorite musical instrument of the fictional Captain Jack Aubrey.
A violin on a stand. The favorite musical instrument of the fictional Captain Jack Aubrey.

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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!

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!

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!

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!

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!

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!

Public art painted from dark, painful experience.

Smears of red, a flag, two faces.
Smears of red, a flag, two faces.

There are three new works of art on display in the breezeway between the downtown Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego and the Santa Fe Depot. These pieces concern disturbing emotions felt by combat veterans, and the ongoing battle of many with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

I believe–but I’m not certain–that the art you see in these photos was produced by military personnel who participate in the museum’s ArtOASIS program. ArtOASIS was created for PTSD patients in conjunction with Combat Arts, a local organization that provides opportunities for combat troops to express themselves.

These images are raw and painful. They are brutally honest. To paint these dark, secret things requires great personal courage.

Someone walks through the breezeway between MCASD and Santa Fe Depot in downtown San Diego.
Someone walks through the breezeway between MCASD and Santa Fe Depot in downtown San Diego.
PTSD. What happens when you get home and realize you will never be this awesome again. Long is the way and hard, that out of Hell leads up to the Light.
PTSD. What happens when you get home and realize you will never be this awesome again. Long is the way and hard, that out of Hell leads up to the light.
A lone figure lies against the wall of Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego.
A lone figure lies against the wall of Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego.
REAL TALK. Life.
REAL TALK. Life.

I live in downtown San Diego, and walk through the city with my camera. You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter.