I spent my morning on the deck of the USS Midway for the Memorial Day Service aboard the flight deck. This was the second year that I have attended the ceremonies and they have been by far the best Memorial Day remembrances I’ve attended. Numerous veterans, their families, and just general people attended the ceremony this year, along with a the French Consulate representative and our local SoCal Congressman.
While waiting for the service to begin, I was joined by a veteran who served in the military for over 25 years. I knew I would enjoy talking with him as soon as he sat down because he had an awesome Canon camera kit with him, and I just so happen to be a fancy camera nerd. As we began talking, the gentleman started to recount his days onboard one of the ships that helped guard the USS Midway while in the Pacific. He proudly wore the name of the vessel he served on on his high wall hat.
I always enjoy talking with vets, especially those who served in WWII because my grandfather and many of my great uncles served in the battle for Europe during WWII. My Great Uncle Glen, gave his life fighting Rommel, the Desert Fox, in North Africa. I believe my father still carries Uncle Glen’s obituary in his wallet.
Getting back to my conversation with the vet during the service this morning, I am always amazed by how calmly vets recount their stories. You can see in there eyes it’s almost as if they are transported back in time as they relive their most glorious and challenging experiences from their active duty days.
We went on to discuss our shared love for older military aircraft, and he gave me some secrets on how to best take in the Miramar Air Show this year. We also got to share our memories from one of my favorite shows as a kid, Black Sheep Squadron.
I thoroughly enjoyed my talk with this gentleman. As the ceremony progressed we headed over to witness the wreath ceremony as veterans from the major branches threw their wreath into the bay just off San Diego from aboard the mighty ship. This is always a very somber remembrance as a moment of silence is offered.
After the wreath offering the ceremony came to an end. I found the vet I had been talking with graciously speaking with a Marine vet in a wheelchair who was accompanied by most likely his daughter and granddaughter. He offered his thanks to the man in the wheelchair and passed a business card with a military saying on it to the family. It was touching to see the two men interact and witness the camaraderie that goes with speaking to a fellow vet.
I gave the gentleman time to finish talking with the family and then I approached him to let him know it had been a pleasure chatting with him and I asked for his contact info. I plan on contacting him soon to see if he would like to grab a cup of coffee so we can further discuss our love for cameras and military aircraft.
I hope during your weekend you all reach out to a vet(s) and let them know you appreciate their years of service and sacrifice for our country. To that end, I would like to take this time to thank the vets that I know. My deepest appreciation goes out to Ben Souders, Ron Enyeart, George Gaffney, Howard Mitchell, John Mitchell, Nancy Mitchell, Floyd Mitchell, Marshall Mitchell (who carries on the first name of my grandfather and father), and all of the other active and retired servicemen and women that I know. Thank you all!
Below are some of the pictures I snapped while onboard the mighty ship, the longest to ever serve in the U.S. Navy. If you like military history, it’s a must that you visit the USS Midway Museum!
The fly by is one of my favorite moments of the service: