By Wayne Eggleston
Veteran’s Day is upon us and San Clemente will celebrate Saturday, November 10 at Park Semper Fi in the Pier Bowl at noon. All veterans from every military service and the public are invited to meet the men from 2nd Battalion 4th Marines, San Clemente’s adopted Marine Corps unit. The commanding officer of 2/4, Lt. Col. Robert S. Weiler will be the guest speaker. This year we are privileged to have, through an anonymous donor, Pete Jacobs and his Wartime Radio Revue Band, playing “big band” hits from Glen Miller, Benny Goodman, Tommy Dorsey and others. Parking and seating is available for all.
At 2 p.m. the city is sponsoring a Marine Corps birthday cake cutting ceremony. The men from 2/4 will also be there. This special event was hosted for years at the Pacific Beach mobile home community, but the city is doing the honors this year and hopefully this will become an annual event. Again the public is welcomed at the Senior Center, 117 Avenida Victoria.
This article is being written before the elections and while we do not know at this time who our newly elected city council members will be, these two events unite us all, even though city political issues may divide us. So let us all come together and honor our military, and put aside city politics to honor our veterans and active duty.
I wish to highlight one veteran this month.
Mel Steffes, a San Clemente resident, was a prisoner of war during World War II in a Nazi camp called Stalag Luft I. He survived to tell the horror of being a prisoner of the Germans. Mel served in the Army Air Corps from 1943-1945, as a bombardier and navigator in a B-17 bomber, flying out of Peterborough, England. They were on the 13th mission, and were shot down by German fighter planes at 28,000 feet. Mel and the crew parachuted, and as he tells it, fell 20,000 feet before pulling the parachute cord. After wandering about the German countryside for three days, they were captured and sent off the to the camp. Food and medical care were scarce, according to Mel, but he and his crew survived the ordeal and were liberated at war’s end.
America and San Clemente are grateful to these veterans who fought in the Second World War and then returned and joined the civilian ranks. God bless all the men and women from every branch of the Armed Forces who served our country in war and peace and gave their energy, commitment and their lives so we have the freedom to worship as we chose, to be who we are and to believe that America’s greatest days are not behind us but right before our very eyes.