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San Diego Honors Fallen Veterans on Memorial Day

SAN DIEGO—Residents from the San Diego region and elsewhere honored those who gave their lives in military service to the nation during several Memorial Day events May 29 in the Mira Mesa neighborhood, Mt. Soledad Veterans Memorial, and at the USS Midway Museum.

Some 200 people attended a remembrance ceremony and flag-raising at the Mira Mesa Senior Center—”a good crowd,” said Tommy Hough, chair of the Memorial Day/Veterans Day events committee for the senior center.

While there were no official speakers, “we were deliberately keeping it a very neighborhood-centric event,” said Hough, a county planning commissioner who also served as emcee.

Hough noted that Monday’s tribute was the first big Memorial Day event for the community since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

With Mira Mesa being home to a large number of veterans, “it was important for us to create a very welcoming space to pay tribute those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our nation,” Hough said.

A number of attendees came from Riverside County, Hough said.

One Mira Mesa resident—who had family members who fought in the Battle of Iwo Jima during World War II— spoke, Hough said.

Pastor emeritus L.J. Thomas of the Mount Moriah Christian Church gave an invocation, while the Mira Mesa High School Choir sang the national anthem and “God Bless America.”

Two members of the high school marching band played taps, and a memorial wreath was placed.

At Mt. Soledad, between 1,300 and 1,400 people paid tribute to Navy Aviation Radioman 3rd Class Walter “Uncle Bert” Mintus, those missing in action or killed in action, and those service members repatriated with the help of Project Recover.

On July 27, 1944, Mintus was on a bombing mission targeting a Japanese base in Palau, when his Avenger warplane was shot down. Mintus would have turned 23 the next day.

Monday’s event featured Adm. Kenneth Whitesell, commander of U.S. Naval Air Forces, and Dr. Pat Scannon, the founder of Project Recover, said Phil Kendro, president of Mount Solidad Memorial Association.

The two speakers discussed the finding of Mintus’s remains.

“When those gentlemen were speaking, the audience was completely silent,” Kendro said. “You could tell how excited the crowd was, hanging on the words of those speakers.”

Although Memorial Day is a somber occasion, “the energy of the crowd was amazing,” Kendro said. “We talked about celebrating their lives, and [thinking] about them in a joyous occasion.”

Kendro said members of Mintus’s family were in the audience, including Elizha Nichols, a Marine.

Along with speakers, the Armed Forces Medley was played.

The USS Midway Museum hosted a wreath-laying ceremony on the flight deck, along with musical performances until the 3 p.m. National Moment of Remembrance.

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