By Elizabeth Marie Himchak
To honor those lost in defense of the United States, locals can gather at Webb Park for the annual Memorial Day ceremony.
The 10:15-11:45 a.m. Monday, May 28 event will be at the Rancho Bernardo Veterans Memorial near the Webb Park lake.
The park is accessible from Avena Place. Organizers are asking attendees to not use the Pearl Restaurant parking lot and recommending they bring lawn chairs as seating is limited.
The event will begin at 10:15 a.m. with a patriotic musical prelude performed by the Third Marine Aircraft Wing Brass Quintet from MCAS Miramar. This will be followed by the Rancho Bernardo High School Madrigals singing patriotic selections at 10:40 a.m.
Retired Rear Adm. Richard K. Fontaine, master of ceremonies, will begin the formal commemoration at 11 a.m. Also participating will be Capt. David Korinek from the California State Reserve Chaplain Corps; the MCAS Miramar color guard; members of Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 7766 and Gen. J.P. Holland Chapter of Military Order of the World Wars — they will post the service, POW/MIA, MOWW and VFW flags; Don Schmidt, VFW Post 7766 commander; David Epstein, MOWW Holland chapter commander; and Navy veteran John Cantor, who will present the wreath. Assisting will be the Ramona Town Hall Brass Band and Boy Scout Troop 685.
The speaker will be retired Rear Adm. Cathal L. Flynn, former SEAL/UDT commander and a counter-terrorism expert. A year after graduating from the University of Dublin, Trinity College, Ireland, Flynn was commissioned in the U.S. Navy and completed Underwater Demolition Team replacement training. He later graduated from the Naval War College and National War College.
During his 30-year military career, Flynn worked in naval special warfare, joint special operations, antiterrorism and international security affairs. He led SEAL detachments in Vietnam in 1964 and 1967-68. Flynn was promoted to rear admiral in 1985 and led various commands.
In conjunction with Memorial Day, VFW members will distribute Buddy Poppies from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday, May 25 and Saturday, May 26 outside Rancho Bernardo Albertsons and Vons, and 4S Ranch Ralphs grocery stores. While the poppies are free, veterans will accept free-will donations to support their programs and philanthropic efforts.
Post Commander Don Schmidt said the group has increased its efforts to help veterans in need, both active duty and civilian, especially in emergency situations. For example, he said the post gave money to a service member driving cross country whose vehicle broke down. While there are military relief groups that could have helped, Schmidt said their assistance would have taken many days longer than it took the veterans to issue the money needed for repairs so he could continue the trip.
The post’s other activities include volunteering at and providing financial support to the annual Stand Down in Balboa Park, which helps homeless veterans; the local Veterans Affairs hospital and sponsoring Junior ROTC units at Westview and Orange Glen high schools.
Those planning to replace a faded, torn or otherwise damaged American flag can have it properly retired on Flag Day — June 14 — for free. VFW members are providing free flag pick-up in the Rancho Bernardo area. Schmidt said almost 70 flags have been picked up over recent months. To schedule a pick-up, contact Mike Vaughn at 619-316-6851 or email@example.com.