April 14, 2024

Retired Marine Phil Kendro calls himself a “multi-hatted group chief.” On Saturday, as president and CEO of the Mt. Soledad Nationwide Veterans Memorial, he oversaw a 700-person Veterans Day commemoration.

His mission Sunday?

Make certain 90-plus models of the San Diego Veterans Day Parade effectively rounded a U-turn on Harbor Drive with correct spacing and order to start out the procession close to the County Administration Constructing. He known as himself a “marshaller.”

No downside for the 50-year-old United Airways pilot and Rancho Bernardo resident. The previous Harrier jet pilot was an organization commander within the 2003 Iraq invasion.

“This isn’t a high-risk operation,” Kendro stated after a 90-minute stint below a brilliant solar. “That is one thing that’s enjoyable. It’s nice for the group. And truthfully, that’s why we’re simply happy to do one thing like this.”

He labeled the occasion “managed chaos” however “truthfully, the factor is with this group of individuals, there’s no egos. They’re calm. They’re cool. They’re collected.” 

Maybe 1000’s turned out in high-70s climate to cheer veterans, marching bands, biker models and even canine and dance teams — and wave small U.S. flags handed out by 20 red-shirted volunteers from Liberty Navy Housing.

Joseph Taylor, who panhandles in Balboa Park as Santa or the Grinch, was current too — handing out free balloons to children and displaying an indication that stated “My mother is sick. Donations wanted for lease” (at a neighborhood lodge).

The parade returned after a three-year COVID absence and new steam.

He stated the committee’s purpose was to “get collectively and take this parade, rebrand it, revamp and get energized. And so it’s what we did.”

This 12 months additionally marked main anniversaries — 50 years because the return of the Vietnam Struggle POWs and 70 years because the Korean Struggle ended. Grand marshals acknowledged each milestones.

Additionally honored was the one centesimal anniversary of the close by Marine Corps Recruit Depot, the eightieth anniversary of Naval Helicopter Aviation and 50 years of ladies in naval aviation.

Mayor Todd Gloria walked the route because the lead grand marshal. Different grand marshals rode in vehicles, together with:

  • Twins Gary and Larry Soper, each double Purple Coronary heart recipients from Vietnam.
  • Jack Ensch, a retired Navy captain and F-4 Phantom naval aviator who was shot down on his 285th fight mission of Vietnam on Aug. 25, 1972, and freed as a POW from Hanoi on March 29, 1973.
  • Joellen Oslund, a retired Navy captain and one of many first six girls to turn into naval aviators. The Navy’s first feminine helicopter pilot, she was inducted into the Girls in Aviation Worldwide Pioneer Corridor of Fame in 2017.
  • George Sousa, a former Military corporal and a Purple Coronary heart recipient who fought within the horrific battles at Bloody Ridge and Heartbreak Ridge in 1951.
  • Gary Ely, a former Navy petty officer who performed an 18-month fight tour throughout the Vietnam Struggle as a helicopter door gunner with the Helicopter Assault Squadron 3 (HAL-3) Vietnam.
  • And Brig. Gen. James Ryans, commander of San Diego’s Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego commanding common. A 35-year Marine veteran, he’s the recipient of the Bronze Star.

Kendro — who additionally does related obligation for the Vacation Bowl Parade — two years in the past was named a neighborhood Veteran of the Month.

He was requested his favourite a part of Sunday’s occasion, which ended with an enormous inflatable eagle arriving close to Seaport Village.

He stated it was coping with folks like former POW Ensch and winners of the Distinguished Flying Cross like Royce Williams, who “lastly will get to inform his story after 50 years when he shot down these Soviet MIGs. … We see their smiling faces and so they get to work together with the group. That’s the most effective factor.”