El Cajon, CA
Clear sky
Clear sky:
69.8 °F

Articles by J. S. Anderson, USMC Ret.

It was a spectacularly sunny morning.  Maybe a bit on the cool side by local standards, for motorcyclists it promised to be a perfect day for hitting the local back roads.  A small group of riders from the El Cajon Harley Owners Group (HOG) met up at El Cajon Harley-Davidson with the plan of rolling along some of those roads.

Arguably, perhaps, some might attribute the increased recognition accorded our active duty military personnel and veterans to the recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.  The common “thank you for your service” is definitely a far cry from that experienced by our military and veterans during the Vietnam era.  Whatever the reason, thanking someone for serving our nation, currently or in the past, is certainly a kindness appreciated by most members of the military and veterans.  In offering thanks for military service, one volunteer organization goes above a

Even with more than 110,000 active duty military personnel in San Diego County, the unique lifestyles of and demands upon our men and women in uniform and their families are largely unknown to the general population. With less than one-half of one percent of the nation currently serving on in the military and roughly seven percent military veterans, this lack of awareness is not surprising.

Midday this Thursday, the bikers began gathering at the designated staging site, the distinctive rumble of their motorcycles filling the air. They come together often, like on the previous Friday, when many of them rolled out to honor Marine Corps Sergeant Chad Jenson and support his family. Laid rest at Miramar National Cemetery, Sergeant Jenson was one of the 16 who perished when a Marine Corps KC-130 crashed during a routine flight on 10 July.

The Marine Corps veteran who fought in Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) described his anger at the enemy, how “they were able to get me” with a mortar round. “I could take it face-to-face,” he explained. But being hit by a mortar round “wasn’t fighting man-to-man, “he said.

Two years of the Vietnam War (1967 and 1968) accounted for nearly 49 percent of all Americans killed in action, with 11,363 in 1967 and 16,899 in 1968, according to the National Archives.

As our nation’s capital enjoyed 58-degree temperatures, El Cajon relished sunny skies and high 70s, maybe even low 80s.  Perfect motorcycling weather, if asking a biker.

The Lakeside Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) is hosting a special breakfast from 9:00 – 11:00 a.m. on Sunday May 21, to which all are invited. The purpose is to help a fellow warrior, Ana Sanchez, the subject of a previous story. Sanchez is a Marine veteran who served as a member of a Female Engagement Team in combat as part of the Lioness Program, in addition to her regular duties when overseas. An Ammunition Technician by assignment, she described the overall experience as, “one day I was pulling out bullets and the next day I was shooting them.” 

Persuading any Marine Corps veteran to speak about their accomplishments in uniform and time in combat is difficult at best, because the Marine culture eschews tooting one’s own horn. Marines give credit to others and do not seek it for themselves. We sat down to chat, 14 years to the day since Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) began. The war in which this Marine fought.

Usually nothing distinguishes them from others we see in our routine day-to-day activities. Perhaps there is an emblem or patch on a ball cap, if even such is noticed. They can be of any age from around 20 and up. When standing behind one in the grocery checkout line, there is no large label or sign on his back. When shooting the breeze during casual conversation at the coffee shop, waiting in the jury pool at the County Courthouse, waiting for your car at the garage, or when walking along in the local mall, these people are indistinguishable.