Dear Patrons, Members and Subscribers,

We hope everyone out there had a great Thanksgiving! We had an eventful November, full of memorable moments that we will always treasure. We were proud to announce Robert Muth as this year's Veteran of the Year. We were also proud to admit veterans free all month, and we celebrated a very unique Veterans Day as we showcased a modern dance show in partnership with PGK Dance Company.

We also went ahead and got into the Christmas spirit last month, with two Christmas-themed shows. Bodhitree Concerts brought "All is Calm: The Christmas Truce of 1914" back to our small stage, and Cygnet Theatre brought  "A Christmas Carol", back to the museum to close out the month. 

And we have already jumped into December with both feet! The museum joined December Nights in Balboa Park for the first time, ever! On the 40th Anniversary of December Nights, we decided to open our doors and become a part of the magic! A big thanks to all who came out to visit Mrs. Clause and enjoy our beautiful decorations on Dec. 1 and 2!

This weekend we'll open our December show in partnership with theatre non-profit, The American History Theater. To learn more about the Vietnam play "A Piece of My Heart", take a look at the write-up below with behind-the-scenes commentary from the cast and director. We'll also offer an interactive workshop in correlation with the show, "Join the Discussion: Evolution of Military Women". To our women veterans, come out and lend your voice to important concerns which affect many veteran women

As always, I'd be remiss if I didn't thank all our volunteers and staff for the work they do to ensure our continuing success. 

This Holiday Season we hope everyone gets time to spend with their family and loved ones. For those who cannot be home this season, our thoughts are with you. Season's Greetings from all of us, here, at The Veterans Museum at Balboa Park. 

Captain Sheldon Margolis 
USN (Retired) 
President and CEO


What's going on at your museum? (Museum events or museum partners)

  • Dec. 1 & 2 - December Nights in Balboa Park
  • Dec. 7 - Bridging the Generations  
  • Dec. 8,9,10 & 15,16,17 - A Piece of My Heart
  • Dec. 9 - Join the Discussion: Evolution of Military Women
  • Dec. 30 - Jazz and Juice Series 
This Month
San Diego Veterans Coalition shares leadership insight during Bridging the Generations -Dec. 7

Join us at 10:30 AM to noon on Dec. 7 for Bridging the Generations. Hosted by the San Diego Veterans Coalition, this event is geared to share leaders' insights and life goals with some of our nation's finest service members.  

Panel members include SSG (RET)Sid Zimmerman, a WWII  Marine veteran and former tail gunner with countless missions over the Pacific during the war. LTC Susan Inot (RET), is an Army veteran who served on active duty from 1970-1973 and was then recalled in 1990 to fight in Desert Storm after 25 years of reserve service. MSG Charlie Inot (RET) is an U.S. Army veteran who served on active from 1964-1970, to include one tour in Vietnam. Lastly, NSW Operator Michael Branch, US Navy (RET), will join them to talk about his time working as a Navy SEAL. 

All leaders will share their lessons learned as a service member and share their tips for success and perseverance amidst challenges and growth. We hope many will join us to commune with these knowledgeable Veterans. 

The American History Theater presents the Vietnam War classic, "A Piece of My Heart" -Dec 8,9,10 & 15,16,17 
Meet the cast of "A Piece of My Heart", directed by Hal Berry.
 This December 8, 9, 10 and 15, 16, 17 we would like to invite you to share a special experience with local non-profit, The American History Theater, as they present "A Piece of My Heart", the story of six women who deploy to the Vietnam War. Hailed by the Vietnam Veterans Association of America as one of the best depictions of the Vietnam conflict, this play will show for two weekends this month. 

Join local nonprofit, The American History Theater, for it's biggest production to date due to a California Arts Council grant.
This show was made possible by a grant from The California Arts Council, attained in partnership with The Veterans Museum at Balboa Park . With the help of a grant, American History Theater has been able to put on their most in-depth play to date. Director , Hal Berry , a Navy veteran who served as a corpsman stateside during the Vietnam era, has always had a soft spot for this play.  Although never charged with going to the war, Berry still witnessed the aftermath of the conflict in the wounded service members who were shipped back. Those moments stayed with him, along with watching the men and women come back and receive no respect for their sacrifices at war. 

"The play really sheds light on how badly Vietnam veterans were treated when they returned," said Berry. 

Cast members were also shocked to learn of the way Vietnam war veterans were treated. 

Soldiers simply did their duty at war, and there was no time for discussion or politics," said cast member Kai Lin. "But civilians at home saw a different view, and accosted soldiers to the extreme (when they returned)."
The play also shines light on the difficulty of returning from war to grapple with the invisible wounds of the experience. In correlation with the production, AHT will also host a workshop on Dec. 9, "Join the Discussion: Evolution of Military Women" at 3 PM. This event is geared to address issues such as transition from combat, combat PTSD and even Military Sexual Trauma. Read more about that event below.

We will also feature a talkback with director, cast and real-life Vietnam nurses on Dec. 17 at 7 PM, after the final performance. For those who wish to attend the talkback only, please contact Amber Robinson at to ensure you are not charged for this FREE event.

 *Join us as we pay homage to an era of veterans who gave much, much more than what they got in return. Help us give those who served in Vietnam the final respect and appreciation they have always deserved*

"Join the Discussion: Evolution of Military Women" encourages women vets to talk without shame 

Dec. 9  

This year has been a progressive year for women. We are proud to keep the conversation about women's rights and women's strength going at the museum during a discussion workshop Dec. 9 at 3 PM. "Join the Discussion: The Evolution of Military Women" is a two-hour event in conjunction with The American History Theater's presentation of "A Piece of My Heart". 

The play, about 6 women who deploy to Vietnam, touches on issues such as PTSD, Military Sexual Trauma and transition issues. For many women veterans, these issues have been their realities. Join us for a discussion on how far women have come in the service, where they are and how far they have to go. We'll explore treatment options in San Diego for female veterans with PTSD or who are MST survivors. We'll also discuss the VA's new anti-sexual harassment campaign. Your story and your voice matters. We want your commentary! For more information please email 

Last Month

Lamda Archives hosts panel of LGBT advocates in honor of Veterans Day


As our society grows and changes, its our responsibility to stay educated on the changes. 

 On Dec. 2 we were proud to once again partner with our local LGBmuseum, Lambda Archives, to honor our LGBT veterans during a special event in honor of Veterans Day, "Veteran Tales: Serving Without Fear Transitioning Out of Don't Ask Don't Tell". The event opened with remarks sent from the office of Congresswoman Susan Davis and words from the Veterans Museum's official poet laureate, Alyce Smith Cooper, followed by an educational panel. 


Official poet laureate, Alyce Smith Cooper, opens the event with a poem about equality in honor of our panel of LGBT Veterans activists who had a heavy hand in the repeal of DADT 

The panel was made up of LGBT veterans who had a heavy hand in helping aid in the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell (DADT). Moderator for the event was CAPT Arthur Kelleher, MC, SNR (Ret) and the panel was made up of Bridget Wilson, Bob Lehman and Anna Curren. Also present was Lambda Archives Board President, Joel Stewart. We are always proud to partner with Lambda Archives.

"We are a museum that welcomes ALL veterans," said VMBP Executive Director, Sheldon Margolis. "No matter your color, gender, creed or sexuality, we are here to honor all who have served."


Museum hosts Dan Moore, author of Vietnam book  Promise Lost: Stephen Joyner The Marine Corps and the Vietnam War"
We were proud to ho
st author and Vietnam Veteran, Dan Moore, on November 8 for a special presentation and book signing of his book "Promise Lost". The book chronicles the  life of athlete, Marine and eventually Vietnam war casualty, Stephen Joyner. His life's story is one of valor even before he stepped foot onto the battlefields of Vietnam, as Moore warmly recounts. Joyner fell during the final days of the fight for Khe Sanh leading an attack into an overwhelming enemy force. Moore writes not only of Joyner's heroism on the battlefields, but of the legacy which remained and inspired him to write this book.

You can  pick  up  "Promise Lost: Stephen Joyner The Marine Corps and the Vietnam War" in our gift shop during normal museum hours. Hailed by the museum's own Vietnam Veterans as one of the b est books on our shelves. Big thanks to all who attended and an even bigger thanks to Moore for coming out and sharing the backstory to one of our favorite books. 
"All is Calm: The Christmas Truce of 1914" packs house for second year in a row 
Yet again we welcomed the production of "All is Calm: The Christmas Truce of 1914" to the museum in partnership with Bodhitree Concerts on Nov. 18 and 19. Bodhitree is a nonprofit organization who presents performing arts events and gives the proceeds to charity. A noble organization, we are beyond proud to partner with them each year to bring this incredible war story to our small stage. During WWI, the men along the front lines were recorded as actually lying down their arms and shouting Christmas carols at the enemy until a truce was made to lay down arms on Christmas Day, proper. On this day, the two opposing sides met on the battlefield and helped each other bury their dead, shared photographs from home and even shared tiny bits of chocolate and liquor. This continued until a command from higher drove them back to the foxholes. The musical journey of that story is made all the more powerful by San Diego Opera, SACRA/PROFANA and FAB United. We look forward to hosting this incredible show for many years to come. 

VMBP, PGK Dance Project and filmmaker of "The Carrier" partner for a unique Veterans Day 

Volunteer Arts Director, Anthonly LoBue, performs a spoken word piece with dance added as a visual. 

This year we were proud to do something a little different for Nov. 11, Veterans Day, at the museum! This year we partnered with PGK Dance Project to present a day of dance along with some free BBQ and an awesome documentary about San Diego's own Navy guys while underway! PGK Dance Project 
opened the afternoon with a dance show, with a  special performance collaboration with our own volunteer Arts Director, Anthony LoBue.

Artistic Director for PGK Dance Project, Peter Kalivas, then invited attendees into the museum's garden for free dance lessons! The museum also offered two seperate showings of local documentary, "The  Carrier: America's Game for America's Heroes", by Steven Barber. A big thanks to Barber for sharing his work and a big thanks to Peter Kalivas for working so hard to bring the worlds of Veterans and dance together!
For second year VMBP hosts Cygnet Theatre for holiday classic, "A Christmas Carol" 

Cygnet Theatre's Education and Outreach Director, Tim West, performs "The 12 Days of Christmas" with members of the cast of "A Christmas Carol"
For the second year in a row we hosted Cygnet Theatre as they performed the holiday classic, "A Christmas Carol" at the museum on Nov. 25. The play is originally written by Charles Dickens, but adapted for Cygnet by Jacob Caltrider and Brian Mackey. The cast was comprised of Cygnet resident artists, Brian Mackey and Amy Perkins, who insisted upon playing Scrooge this year. No less grumpy and crotchedy, this abrupt cast delivered this time-honored play with just the right amount of charm and adaptation. This performance was made possible by Cygnet Theatre's military and veteran initiative, Cygnet Serves. This initiative was made possible in part by a grant from the  James Irvine Foundation Exploring Engagement Fund Grant. This grant has allowed the theatre to give back to the military and veteran community. We are honored to have partnered with Cygnet as part of their initiative and hope to continue to work with them to bring the worlds of theater and veterans together. 

Museum News!
Stories from the Archives:
Mobile Construction Battalion 3 

Leroy Wayne Gahan
Navy SeaBee in the Philippines

Leroy Gahan, called Scotty by his friends, enlisted in the Navy, completed his initial training at Fort Rosecrans and was assigned to Mobile Construction Battalion 3 (MCB-3) at Port Hueneme, California.  MCB-3 deployed to Subic Bay in 1951 and spent the next 5 ½ years clearing the jungle and building the Navy Base and the Cubi Point Air Station.  They also had to dredge the bay to make the harbor deeper and even remove some wrecks left over from WWII.  When Leroy arrived in Port Hueneme he was deployed to the battalion in 1952 and spent the next three years there with an occasional month off for retraining and leave back to the states. 

Leroy Gahan, c. 1952-1955.
The Cubi Point Air Station was unique in that aircraft carriers could tie up right alongside the air base and even taxi planes directly off the ship down a ramp onto the base. 
Leroy was assigned to the Damage Control and the Fire Department and worked on all phases of construction. They lived in tents while constructing the base.  Heavy equipment was transported to the Philippines, some of which had even been used to help construct Hoover Dam.  This equipment was never brought back to the states, it was left in the Philippines after completion of construction of the base.
Leroy was also assigned to the Chaplain's office and was instrumental in setting up the base hobby shop.  He offered classes in leather work and copper and worked hard to get supplies from anywhere he could for the classes.  He adopted a pet monkey who was not very friendly and took it upon himself to guard the hobby shop when Leroy was not there and would not let anyone else in unless Leroy was there.  One benefit of this hobby shop was that Leroy constructed a sleeping space in the upper level of the ship and moved in with his guard monkey.
Navy Chapel with open sides for air flow.

SeaBees lived in tents while buildings are constructed.

The base Hobby Shop where Leroy lived.
Cubi Point runway under construction.
Seabees with monkey
SeaBees & monkey gather outside tent.
Seabee dumptruck
One of the Hoover Dam Dump Trucks.

Recent Donations to the Museum
November 2017 

Margie Billstrom and David & Billie Jean Gahan of Lakeside donated a collection of 115 color photographs from her father who served with the Navy Seabees MCB-3 and built the Navy Air Base at Subic Bay from 1952-1955.

SeaBees preparing the runways at Cubi Point, Philippines, c. 1952-55.

SeaBees clearing jungle at Subic Bay, c1952-1955.

Joe Chambliss of Chula Vista donated 108 books to our Military History Library.
Pam Culley-McCullough of Vista donated artifacts from her father, Capt. Clifford S. Culley, USAAF, including two diaries, newspaper clippings, photographs, and various insignia, patches and medals.
Myra Herrmann  of San Diego donated a ship's March 1945 newspaper from the USS Missouri and a souvenir textile from the south pacific.
Greg Houska of San Diego donated two US Flags, a Republic of China flag from 1955, and an Imperial Japanese Flag from WWII.
Carl Johnson of San Diego donated artifacts from his father who served with an Armor Division in WWII.
Tiffinie Lawry of La Mesa donated a collection of Navy, French and Australian ball caps and a Royal Australian Navy Officer's Warfare pin.
Iline Mattmiller of San Diego donated family photo albums, correspondence, photographs and souvenirs from their family's service including their father, Allan Cook who served in the Navy in WWI and WWII, her husband who served in the USMC in WWII and Korea,  her son who served with the USMC in Vietnam, and a family friend who also served with the USMC in WWII and Korea. 

Allan Cook, c. 1919

Allan Cook, 2nd from left, standing by 5" gun on a destroyer, c. 1919

Daniel Shillito of San Diego donated a collection of photographs of 3 & 4 star flag officers and DoD Officials from the Vietnam War, and souvenirs from Vietnam including a ceramic elephant, unit plaques, helicopter models and ephemera.

Vietnam War ceramic elephants sold for $10 in RVN and were the "Dream Souvenir" and sent home by the boat load by servicemen,  journalists and diplomats.

Plaque presented to Barry Shillito, Asst. Sec. Def. by RVN Chief of Naval Operations, RADM Tran Van Chon, dated 1973.

Launch souvenir for USS Olympia SSN717, April 30, 1983.

Cut away model of the Mark 48, MOD 1 Torpedo

William Romer of San Diego donated an enlisted sailor's white hat signed by crew members of USS Hoel (DDG-13).
Ed Yarbrough of Menifee, CA donated a collection of submarine artifacts including a Brow Banner from the USS Haddock (SS-621), a collection of 21 WWII Submarine Launch Pins and 56 Launch tags from submarine launchings at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, and other photographs and souvenirs from submarine service.

WWII Submarine Launch Tags from Portsmouth Naval Shipyard. 

WWII Submarine Launch Pins from Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.

Submarine Cigarette lighters for USS Halibut, USS Hammerhead, & USS Flasher donated by Jim DeGange. 
Sub pen & toy
Torpedo pen and brass paper weight of the submarine USS Raton.

Have you heard about Homeland Magazine?

We are fortunate to have wonderful community partners and one of those is Homeland Magazine. Their Veteran Day issue truly honors our military veterans. 

Homeland is a San Diego trusted resource reaching over 200,000 San Diego veterans, active duty, military families & 3.5 million nationwide.

T a moment to get to know their magazine as it features resources, support and inspiration to active duty, veterans, and the families who keep it all together. You can read their current and past issues by clicking: Here!

Their magazine is promoted and visible through collaborative partners (The top veteran & military organizations in the country through print, social media, newsrooms, TV, Radio, summits & conferences). They are honored to share the work of so many committed and dedicated people and organizations.

For more information email:
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The Veterans Museum at Balboa Park, 2115 Park Blvd., San Diego, CA 92101
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