Stories Of Freedom & Family ... Chamber Of Commerce Salute To The Military Ball Is A Success On All Fronts - Coronado Eagle & Journal | Coronado News | Coronado Island News: Coronado City News

Stories Of Freedom & Family ... Chamber Of Commerce Salute To The Military Ball Is A Success On All Fronts

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Posted: Thursday, April 26, 2018 4:39 pm

Saturday night at the Hotel Del Coronado, the 33rd Annual Coronado Chamber of Commerce Salute to the Military Ball was held, and by virtually any measure the event was a success. Attendance was up by one-third from one year ago, rising to the level of a sellout with 480 people in attendance. In addition, the theme of the event, which salutes active-duty military personnel, was extended to include recognition of Vietnam-Era Veterans. A total of 100 active-duty couples and 50 Vietnam Veterans were in attendance, together comprising more than half of those present.

The event, which had the USS Midway Museum as the title sponsor, also drew a number of distinguished military command personnel including: VADM Dewolfe Miller, Commander, Naval Air Forces; RDML Yancy Lindsey, Commander, Navy Region Southwest; BGEN Bill Jurney, Commanding General, Marine Corps Recruit Depot and Western Recruiting Region; RDML Ron Fritzemeier, Chief Engineer, Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command; BGen Rick Uribe, Commanding General, First Marine Expeditionary Brigade; CAPT Joe Buzzella, Commander, Coast Guard Sector San Diego; and SgtMaj Julio Meza, Command Master Sergeant, Marine Corps Installation West.

Serving as Co-Masters of Ceremony were CAPT Scott Mulvehill, Commanding Officer of Naval Base Coronado and CAPT (USN-Ret.) Mike Woiwode, who also served as the Chairman of the Chamber’s Military Ball Committee. “We had two lecterns set up and I played the role of the community hosting the military,” Woiwode explained. “And CAPT Mulvehill played the role of speaking on behalf of the military. We took turns with different facets of the program and it was fun. In a situation where there is a large crowd, it’s not always easy to keep the attention of the room. With our going back and forth, the active-duty military personnel paid more attention to the Captain than they did to me. We did a pretty good back and forth.”

In addition to the increased attendance, there was an increased level of sponsorship for the event. When Woiwode met with USS Midway Museum President and CEO Mac McLaughlin and told him that honoring Vietnam Era Veterans was a main feature of the ball, McLaughlin agreed to become the title sponsor. Their sponsorship allowed the Committee to invite Vietnam Veterans to the Military Ball at a special price.

Sponsors who underwrote specific areas included: California American Water, as the Cocktail Hour sponsor; the San Diego Padres and the Brigantine Restaurants were Military Support Sponsors; Military Cocktail Sponsors were Barbara and Gus Theberge; and the Coronado Eagle & Journal Newspaper was the Printing and Awards Sponsor.

Gold Star-level sponsors included: the Coronado Island Film Festival; the Hotel Del Coronado, which has been a sponsor since the inception of the Military Ball; the Navy SEAL Foundation; the National Defense Industrial Association; the Port of San Diego; the Salof Family; and the Salvador Foundation. Event organizers expressed their thanks to Gail and Bob Bardin, for underwriting three tables, including a table for the crew of the USS Coronado.

Silver Star-level sponsors included: the Boeing Company; the Coronado Ferry Landing; the Glorietta Bay Inn; Invicta Financial Group; Lincoln Military Housing; Lockheed Martin; Sacred Heart Catholic Church; and the SEAL Family Foundation.

Woiwode said of the sponsors’ generosity, “A lot of people and companies sponsored at a higher level this year than they have in the past. I was just thrilled with the sponsors. People were walking in the door and sponsoring a couple, so the military could attend.”

Musical highlights of the evening came from Marine Band San Diego under the direction of Enlisted Conductor, Gunnery Sergeant Francisco Gaxiola, as well as the performance of the National Anthem by Coronado High School sophomore and NJROTC Cadet Annabelle McGloin. The Marine Band played several numbers, including a medley of the Service Anthems.

A continuing tradition of the Military Ball is the presentation of two major awards. One was the 19th Annual Harry T. Jenkins Award, named in honor of the late Naval Aviator and Vietnam Prisoner of War. The award recognizes an individual who demonstrates courage, sacrifice, discipline and faith while serving the country and community.

The 2018 Jenkins Award was presented to Aerographer’s Mate First Class Petty Officer Charles Barzon, who leads 10 sailors at the San Diego Fleet Weather Center. His team is responsible for developing meteorological forecasts for military flights across the western United States. In addition, Barzon created the Exceptional Family Member Program so that families could connect, share experiences and enjoy a day at the beach. Barzon has also volunteered over 200 hours as the music worship leader, Choir Director, and pianist during holiday and regular services for the Japanese Christian Church of San Diego, Resounding Joy, Inc., and Naval Base Coronado Chapels. Barzon was presented with the Captain Harry T. Jenkins Award by members of the Jenkins family.

The second award presented was the Sixth Annual VADM James & Sybil Stockdale Award, which honors the military couple who best exemplifies the commitment to the military and the wider community that characterized the Stockdales. The 2018 winners of the Stockdale Award were Chief Petty Officer Cory and Mrs. Jessica Merritt. Petty Officer Merritt flies as a Naval Aircrewman and Rescue Swimmer and has been deployed seven times. Throughout his years of service Navy Commanders have awarded him six Navy and Marine Achievement medals, and four Navy Commendation Medals. 

Jessica Merritt has led her family, including seven year old twins, through the challenges of multiple deployments and extended her fellowship to the greater military family. She inspired a community of learning and growth by developing The Happy Homesteaders, a group which facilitates the bonding of military and civilian families to improve their lifestyles through fellowship and friendship. The couple also raised $30,000 to take 36 combat wounded veterans and their families, on eight hunting and fishing adventures throughout Southern California. 

Another important part of the evening was a recognition of Prisoners of War and Missing in Action service members led by Special Operator Master Chief SEAL Bill King.

To close the evening, and in keeping with the theme ‘Coronado Remembers Vietnam Veterans,’ a 20-minute film produced by Tony Perri of Surf’s Up Studios in Coronado was presented. Five Vietnam Veterans were featured, along with Sherry Martin, spouse of VADM and POW Ed Martin. Appearing in the video were Navy SEAL Carl Swepston, Sherry Martin, Navy SEAL Frank Thornton; Naval Aviator Tom Mitchell; Army Intelligence Officer Jim Zoll; and Louis Semon, an Air Force Munitions Officer. Their memories of the Vietnam War were culled from among 20 interviews conducted by Woiwode at the Vietnam Unit Memorial Monument located on NAB Coronado. The full 20-minute feature can be seen on the Coronado Chamber of Commerce website by selecting the Military Ball tab. Eventually the complete videos of all 20 interviews will be included on the Chamber website.

One of the memorable moments in the video was related by Thornton, who drew parallels between the active duty military currently serving and those who served in Vietnam. He said, “I had the opportunity to work with some units that had SEALs attached in Iraq and Afghanistan. And they were just like the same guys, as though we had taken a handful of guys from the Vietnam era and brought them through time and dropped them in Iraq and Afghanistan. The same guys, the same humor, and the same people.”

Woiwode said of the video, “People really liked it. There was laughter in the right places and people were totally attentive for the whole 20 minutes. When we were conceiving this thing, everybody said we shouldn’t go beyond 10 minutes, but it really felt okay when it was longer than that. As for the ‘Welcome Home’ theme of the video, we didn’t know the theme when we started shooting. So, when Carl Swepston came up with the Welcome Home comment, we said, ‘That’s the theme. How could it not be the theme?”

When asked for a personal highlight of the evening, Woiwode replied, “Former POW Jack Ensch was sitting next to Sherry Martin. She originally didn’t want to be interviewed, changed her mind and did the interview. Then she didn’t want to come to the ball, changed her mind and then did. Jack came not expecting to get a shout out from the stage and at the end Scott (Mulvehill) mentioned he was there. Lou DeBeers is a Korean War Vet and Stu Headley, who was a Pearl Harbor Survivor, were there. Stu comes every year and gets a standing ovation.” Woiwode then summed up the 2018 Coronado Chamber of Commerce Salute to Military Ball by simply saying, “I really appreciate the community’s support.”

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1 comment:

  • Mackenzie Hoofard posted at 1:35 am on Thu, Jul 12, 2018.

    Mackenzie Hoofard Posts: 1

    My grandfather was a part of the Vietnam War. He could literally sit for 4 hours straight and talk about his old days without breaking a sweat. He was really happy that someone is able to appreciate his service professional academic writing services to the country even after so many years ago. When the call came for him, he thought it to be a nuisance but after listening to the them and joining the event, he became as happy as ever I could see. I want this kind of events to happen from year to year.