As summer winds down and we move into the fall, it is time to start thinking about Veterans Day. There are many opportunities to honor veterans each year. One of the largest events is the San Diego County Veteran of the Year Luncheon held the Friday before Veteran's Day at the Scottish Rite Center in Mission Valley. Recipients will be selected in one of four categories: Individual, Lifetime Achievement, Non-profit and Corporate. The deadline to nominate a person or organization is October 1st!!

We kick off Veteran's Day week each year with the annual Military Women's Luncheon held at MCAS Miramar Officer Club. There are always over 100 guests from every era. And of course the main attraction of Veteran's Day is the San Diego Veteran's Day parade. This year's theme is "70th Anniversary of World War II Victory and Peace."  

Lastly, if you haven't been to the museum in a few months, you may have missed numerous changes to our appearance. On the inside we had a stem to stern cleaning by Waxie Sanitary Supply, we moved offices downstairs, created a Vietnam room and transformed the Women's history room. On the outside, Balboa Park's Recreation Department has been hard at work digging out old landscaping and replacing it with drought sustainable plants and flowers, putting in new irrigation systems and updating the Vietnam Memorial Garden with attractive bricks. Just a few days ago they chopped down the tree outside the entrance to the museum. In our drought-stricken state, it was a fire hazard and the wood they took from it will make a new reflection bench. We hope to get the building pressure washed or painted and will be making the Veterans Museum and Memorial Center letters on the side of the building to read "Veterans Museum". Big thank you to everyone involved in making the much needed changes and upkeep to YOUR museum!
                                                                                        Captain Sheldon Margolis 
                                                                                        USN (retired) 
                                                                                        Executive Director 

What's going on at your museum?
  • Sept. 2: 70th anniversary of the signing of the Japanese Surrender Instrument on the USS Missouri. Presentation about the signing and viewing of museum artifacts from that day (7 p.m.)
  • Sept. 8: Free Tuesday admission to the museum for San Diego County residents. 
  • Sept. 8: Arts for All (2 to 4 p.m.) and Arts for Veterans (6 to 8 p.m.)
  • Sept. 15: POW/MIA recognition display at the museum (10 a.m to 4 p.m)
  • Sept. 16: POW/MIA Recognition Day
  • Sept 19: Hispanic Heritage Month begins. Museum to host panel discussion during the month
  • Oct. 1: Deadline to submit Veteran of the Year nominations
  • Oct. 16: Flowers from No Man's Land book reading
  • Oct. 31: Military Women's Luncheon (MCAS Miramar)
  • Nov. 6: San Diego County Veteran of the Year Luncheon (Scottish Rite Center in Mission Valley)
  • Nov. 11: Veteran's Day Parade
WWII Veterans Stu Hedley and Raymond Chavez. Photo credit: Howard Lipin/San Diego UT
Last month
Spirit of '45!
On Aug. 9, we helped the Greatest Generation celebrate their Greatest Day. In the museum's largest (and most attended) event of the year, we hosted approx. 1000 people including almost 200 World War II veterans. 

We would like to thank all the people who made this celebration a huge success! We appreciated all the guests, volunteers and sponsors - without you, we could not do it! 

The day started with music by Moonlight Serenade Orchestra, children met Hometown Heroes and then a formal program was emceed by Bob Lawrence, former channel 1o military reporter. Rear Admiral Len Hering (USN, retired) was the keynote speaker and several WWII veterans spoke about their service. "Stories in the Shade" were a popular draw to guests who asked, "Where were on on Aug. 14, 1945?" and got to hear stories from the veterans. The day concluded with the playing of taps to recognize all the heroes who couldn't be there.

All the major media networks came to the event and San Diego Union-Tribune made us their front page story the next day. To view the story,  Click here:

They also put us on the front page of their local section which can be viewed here:  Click here:

WWII Veteran Sid Zimman. Photo credit: Howard Lipin/San Diego-UT

WWII Veteran Joe Renteria. Photo credit:© 2015 Clint Steed


"Remember Our Fallen from California" Exhibit
The museum was honored to host a traveling exhibit titled, "Remember Our Fallen from California." The exhibit showcased 720 fallen men and women from California who died from injuries sustained in war zones since Sept. 11, 2001.

Many Gold Star families came to visit their loved ones and leave notes and flowers. Several military brothers and sisters also came to visit and even ex-military who said they almost made it to the exhibit. It was a moving exhibit and so well-received that we would like to host it again in 2016. 

The museum also hosted a grand-opening ceremony which drew great media interest. To hear more about the exhibit and see the interviews, click here: Remember our Fallen from California

Click here to view more info about Remember Our Fallen
Annual Members Meeting 
Before the opening ceremony for the Fallen Heroes exhibit, the Chairman of the Board of Directors held the annual members meeting. Members were introduced to your current Board of Directors, the treasurer provided a report of museum finances, and the executive director delivered an update to the projects happening at the museum.  
At the end of the meeting, it was announced that our executive director is the 2015 Balboa Park Inspiration Award winner for his tireless efforts as a volunteer. Sheldon Margolis will receive the award on October 13, 2015 at the Friends of Balboa Park luncheon. You, as museum members and supporters are invited to attend (more details to be distributed). Congratulations to Sheldon...it is well-deserved recognition!  

Current SD County Veteran of the Year, Bill York (former U.S. Army)
Next Month
Time to start planning for San Diego County Veteran of the Year!
One of the best times each November is honoring all the military veterans, active duty and reservists throughout the U.S. during Veteran's Day events. In San Diego County we have have about 240,000 veterans and one will be chosen to be the next Veteran of the Year and another veteran will be selected as the Lifetime Supporter of Veterans. 
The selection panel will also choose a San Diego County non-profit organization and for-profit organization of the year as well. Past attendance shows about 300 people will attend the luncheon and there are ranging opportunities to be a sponsor of the program.
The luncheon will be held on Friday, November 6 at the Scottish Rite Center in Mission Valley and all four categories will be announced then.  Tickets are $40 and can be purchased by calling the museum at (619)239-2300 to request an invitation.
The deadline to submit nominations is October 1. To get nomination forms, you can email vmmc.marketing@pacbell.net or  click on:   Veteran of the Year

Joseph Ortiz in 1943
Stories from museum archives 
(Contributed by Rick Appleton)
This month marks POW/MIA recognition day so we are highlighting POW  Sgt. Joseph Ortiz, who was imprisoned in Stalag 17-B,  Krems, Austria during Word War II.
Joseph Ortiz was a child of the depression era and born and raised in Texas. Later, he went to school in Monterrey, Mexico and proudly enlisted in the Army Air Corps in the 1940's.  Joe had a really strong desire to be a flyer and not serve in the infantry or the tank corps.  Feelings of patriotism were common among Joe's friends which encouraged most men to enlist in 1942, Joe and his brother among them.
Still struggling to re-learn English after so many years in school in Mexico, Joe trained as a gunner in the B-24, the flying fortress, nervously called the "flying coffin" by those who flew it.  As part of the 8th Air Force flying out of Wendling, England, Joe's assignment as a ball turret gunner left him without a parachute while in the turret. He did however learn to put that on in about 5 seconds if the need arose...and it did.  Joe's greatest fear was flying through flak as they neared their targets.  He recalled, "You sit there, and you see all these puffs.  You wonder how you're gonna get through.  I used to think that you could put the wheels down and taxi on the darn stuff."
On the way to Bremen on Joe's sixth mission, his plane got separated from the squadron and was shot down. He parachuted into occupied Holland.  After a short stay in Dulag Luft near Frankfurt with hundreds of other downed US airmen, Joe traveled in an old 40 and 8 boxcar to Stalag 17-B near Krems, Austria, where he spent the remainder of the war. He was a POW from November 1943 to April 1945.  
Joe's barracks in Stalag 17-B

Facing racial discrimination even while a prisoner, Joe acted like the Cisco Kid, learned to play poker and bridge and cornered most of the cigarettes (POW currency) in his barracks.  Though he lost a lot of weight, he was able to buy most anything with his hoard of cigarettes: scraps of food, or Red Cross prunes and raisins for home-made wine (he and his buddies got really sick from that).  There were theater plays, an orchestra, a library, classes (all by the POWs), and lots of tunnel building, but no escapes.  A forced march out of camp in late April 1945 marked the end of the war.  American forces rescued the starving 4,400 Stalag 17 POW survivors in the countryside near Braunau, on the border of southern Germany.
Joe's remarkable story is shelved in the museum library oral history collection.
The library is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday.

If you would like to record your personal story to be transcribed and sent to the National Archives, call the museum at (619) 239-2300 and make an appointment with Rick and his team.
Museum News
Amazon Smile Supports the Veterans Museum with Donations
Did you know that you can support the Veterans Museum every time you shop online at Amazon.com by signing up with AmazonSmile?  It is a simple and automatic way for you to support the Veterans Museum  at no cost to you. By signing up and shopping at smile.amazon.com, you'll find the exact same low prices with the added bonus that Amazon will donate a portion of the purchase price to the Veterans Museum.

To shop at AmazonSmile simply go to smile.amazon.com from the web browser on your computer or mobile device with your existing Amazon.com account or create a new account.  You will need select the charity of you choice and we encourage you to type in and select the Veterans Museum and Memorial Center.  Amazon will remember your selection and then every eligible purchase you make at smile.amazon.com will result in a donation to our museum.

You may also want to add a bookmark to smile.amazon.com to make it even easier to return and start your shopping at AmazonSmile.


Search our Museum Library Catalog 
Working on a project?  You can explore our Military History Reference Library catalog to see what is in our library.  
Did you know that the museum has a military history reference library with over 10,000 volumes including multimedia available to our members and researchers?  You must be a museum member to access the library.  It is not a lending library, but a resource to be used and explored.
Click on this link or enter this address: 
Arts for All and Arts for Veterans
The second Tuesday of every month, Tony the Vet holds two free sessions. From 2 to 4 p.m., children and families are invited to make cards for veterans and view a free puppet show.
From 6 to 8 p.m., our museum hosts free creative art classes (literary, performing and visual arts) for veterans. These classes are facilitated by Tony LoBue, Veteran, artist, and teacher of the creative arts and will include guest artists and speakers. To register, contact Tony at (619) 806-2075 or via email at Tony@tonythevet.org  


We want you...to volunteer!
The museum would not operate without the support of its volunteers. Just this month alone we had hundreds of volunteers to make several events and day-to-day operations successful. Job for groups of volunteers included Spirit of `45 duties, updates and cleaning of the museum archives, help with landscaping projects and setting up and taking down the Remember Our Fallen exhibit. 

Individuals volunteer each month as docents, in the library and gift shop, to do research and be oral historians as well as administrative and event work. No matter where your skills lie, there is a volunteer job waiting for you!

We would like to welcome John Fowler,  Monica Rodriguez and  Natalie Slattery who started volunteering last month.

To download a volunteer application form, Click here:

You can also find out more information by contacting the volunteer coordinator at: vmmcvolunteers@gmail.com.

Recent Donations to the Museum's Artifact Collection  
  Mary Amari of Oceanside
donated Captured Nazi Reich Service Flag that would have flown over public administration buildings.
Richard Bell of Bonita
donated two photo albums of the building of the Panama Canal from Bert Bideman, a heavy equipment operator who worked on the project.
Newell Booth of San Diego
donated a Cigarette lighter made from a .50 Caliber shell, a 1941 Prayer Book and a plate embossed with the seal of the "Veterans Administration 1930"
Sandra Crites of Lakeside donated a collection of photographs of the Japanese surrender aboard the USS Missouri and WWII Newspapers including the December 8, 1941 issue of the San Diego Union.
Japanese Officials signing surrender document aboard the USS Missouri.  Donated by Sandra Crites, Lakeside

Japanese Officials arrive aboard the USS Missouri to sign surrender document.  Donated by Sandra Crites, Lakeside
Paul Elder of San Diego
donated 9 photo albums, 25 books, documents and personal papers of Naval Aviator Arthur Grant Elder,  Kathy Forbes of Castle Rock, CO
donated two photograph albums, photographs and certificates from her uncle PHC Carl E. Gettlemann who served on the USS Tripoli (CVE-64) during WWII. Photographs included pictures taken on V-J day in San Diego aboard the USS Tripoli.

Sailors and Waves celebrate VJ day on board the USS Tripoli in San Diego Bay, Sept. 2, 1945.  Donated by Kathy Forbes, Castle Rock, CO.

Sailors and Waves celebrate VJ day on board the USS Tripoli in San Diego Bay, Sept. 2, 1945.  Donated by Kathy Forbes, Castle Rock, CO.
John Fry of San Diego donated a collection of WWII campaign medals and a 48 star American Flag.
Patti Gwinn of San Diego
donated the personal papers, documents and two scrap books from BM-1 Peter Byrum covering the period 1934 to 1956.
Barry Hickey of Manassas, VA
donated a Spanish American Veteran's Medal and a Missalette carried by Michael Joseph Hickey, Co. E, 1st New Hampshire Volunteers, 1898.
Ted Kimball of Poway
donated two Japanese Arisaka rifles captured during the battle of Iwo Jima.
Jim Kruger, USS Kearsarge Association,
donated a 5' model of the USS Kearsarge (CV-33) & 16 scale aircraft build from scratch by Cliff Wierick.
James Paris of San Diego donated three photographs taken aboard the USS Missouri during the surrender on September 2, 1945.

Photos of Japanese being transported to the USS Missouri on Sept 2, 1945, donated by Jim Paris of San Diego

Photos of Japanese being transported to the USS Missouri on Sept 2, 1945, donated by Jim Paris of San Diego
Mary Pollans of Escondido
donated the artifacts, photos and mementos of her husband's father who served in WWI and her husband who served in Korea.
Michael Witt of San Diego
donated Seven large (8'+) detailed architectural style line drawings, some colored, of imagined naval ships of the future. Author/artist is unknown.
Leslie Wood of Murrieta
donated a collection of military models built by John Boylan, three of which are current on display in our Iraq and Vietnam exhibits.
Gene Bellar*
Ralph Bogon*
Dana Carkey
Eugene Chappee*
Felix Cruz
Brenda Dasher
Ronald Dethman*
William Dougherty*
Eldon Garretson*
C J Gerwin*
Chris Hirahara
Mike Kurnow*
Robert Malneritch*
Paul Mueller*
Fred Musial*
Sue Myer Family
Tom Rice*
Gerald Rost*
Nicki Summers Family
Mat Truckel*
Walter Valentine*
Edward Weikel
                                                             * Life Member                           
Become a Museum Member
Current exhibits at your museum
Vietnam Remembered: A 50th Anniversary Retrospective
Presidio to Pacific Powerhouse: The Military in Balboa Park 1915 to 1945
"Hold at All Costs"  - The last battle
of the Korean War
World War I
China Burma India
World War II
B-24 Gallery
UDT-SEALS Operations Past & Present
San Diego's Medal of Honor Recipients 
Dennis Schoville Vietnam Veteran
USS Orleck (DD-886)
Adam Sustackek, U.S. Coast Guard Women's Military History
5 Murals by Richard DeRosset


SeaWorld Waves of Honor: Free admission for veteran and three guests


SeaWorld® San Diego is honoring the men and women who have previously served as members of the U.S. armed services with a special admissions program.  Starting July 16 through Nov. 11 (Veterans Day), the park is offering complimentary admission to military veterans and up to three additional guests.


Veterans must register online at www.WavesofHonor.com in advance, and verify their proof of service through the ID.me qualification process.  SeaWorld is working with ID.me to provide an online verification of former military personnel in a secure and privacy-enhancing manner.


Once veterans and their guests have registered online, they can bring their e-tickets directly to the park's entrance turnstiles. Tickets must be obtained and redeemed by Nov. 11 (Veterans Day), 2015.


To register for your free tickets, click on the below website at:

Waves of Honor


Know someone who would like to see this email?
To donate to the museum:
The Veterans Museum at Balboa Park, 2115 Park Blvd., San Diego, CA 92101
| (619)239-2300 | info@veteranmuseum.org | www.veteranmuseum.org