El Cajon, CA
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Articles by J. S. Anderson, USMC Ret.

There are approximately 18.5 million military veterans in the nation, including 6.7 million who served in Vietnam. Roughly 1.6 million call California home, the most of any state in the union. 

According to figures from the Thomas Jefferson School of Law, San Diego County is home to about 240,000, the third highest veteran population of any county in the country. 

For those without military experience, the ribbons and badges affixed to the uniform of a member of our Armed Forces may simply appear to be colorful decorations. They literally speak to the individual’s professional resume and accomplishments.

Oft referred to as fruit salad, due to the colorful nature of the ribbons, the mounting, sequencing and displaying of the decorations comply with numerous regulations.

It is a typical Saturday, you are running errands, and it seems there are motorcycles everywhere. Do you ever wonder where the heck they are all heading?  Our area is renowned for much, including weather conducive to motorcycle riding virtually year-round. 

This, of course, comes as no surprise to anyone living in the region, particularly on the weekends when bikes are out and about in significant numbers. 

There is an axiom about military service that goes, “All gave some, some gave all.” Long after taking off the uniforms of their nation, some return to continue giving. Army veteran Lorenzo Lizarraga, Marine Corps veteran Ken Brassell, and Army veteran Tom Shaff are three such individuals. 

Continuing to give to active duty members, fellow veterans, and their families, for them, patriotism is integral to being a military veteran.   

As parts of the Midwest suffered spring blizzard conditions, the sky above Gillespie Field was a brilliant blue, making it a near perfect background for the flights of two World War II aircraft. 

The Gillespie Field hanger housing Air Group One in El Cajon was a fitting location to hear from Nelson Robinson, who was the invited speaker at the monthly BBQ.  He shared a mixture of personal experiences with, and the lore and history of, the Tuskegee Airmen.  During an interview prior to his comments to the general group, a linkage to San Diego State University came up. 

A legend is defined as, “a nonhistorical or unverifiable story handed down by tradition from earlier times and popularly accepted as historical.”  It is often overused in todays self-absorbed world, where anything or anyone seem to be characterized as legendary in some quarters, almost to the point of the word being useless in describing and defining an individual.  But on this Saturday afternoon at the Elks Lodge 1812 in El Cajon, people came out to celebrate the life of an authentic local legend, Charles “Chuck” Holenda.  Particularly for east county

While much of the nation contended with intemperate winter weather, folks were in shirt sleeves and the doors were wide open at Hanger 6, Gillespie Field, home of Air Group One, Commemorative Air Force this sunny Saturday morning. The Commemorative Air Force was established to preserve aircraft from World War II and now has more than 170 aircraft nationwide, according to Air Group One Wing Leader Doug English. 

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