Veterans Day is Sunday, Nov. 11, and Ventura County is playing host to several events honoring local heroes who have served in the various branches of the U.S. military from World War II to Afghanistan. Also on the docket: a visit from veterans across the country.
Eighty-eight former service members and their spouses will visit Ventura from Monday, Nov. 12, through Friday, Nov. 16, to tour the U.S. Navy Seabee Museum, Naval Base Ventura County, Port Hueneme, and visit the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library. The group, all of whom served during the Vietnam War as part of the Civil Engineer Corps (CEC), passed through the Civil Engineer Corps’ basic foundation school located in Port Hueneme on their way to various projects overseas.
“When the Vietnam War got hot, there was a lot of construction that needed to be accomplished,” said Jim Osborn, organizer of the upcoming reunion. “They first turned to the Army because it was an Army war, and the Navy said, ‘I don’t think so, if you read your rules we’re responsible for all the construction there.’”
The CEC was given the responsibility to construct infrastructure in Vietnam and established an office in charge of construction in Saigon, says Osborn. Osborn served in the CEC from 1970 to 1971 while stationed in Saigon.
The group of veterans will include several who have served in higher offices within the Navy, including two Admirals and several who were Navy Captains, and will be arriving from Florida, Alabama, Massachusetts, Oregon and Washington, to name a few points of origin, with ages ranging from 68 to 80 and older. Osborn says that up to 30 of the group recently returned from a trip to Vietnam as well.
The group chose Ventura County, says Osborn, because of it being the home of the Civil Engineer Corps training facility in Port Hueneme, adding that this might be the final group gathering. The Corps’ mark on the world will remain long after the reunions end, however.
“We put in over $2 billion of new construction during that period of time, including everything from roads to railroads to buildings to wells and hospitals to bridges that are still there today,” said Osborn. “When I Google Earth Vietnam I can see my construction sites where the stuff I built is still in place. It’s kind of an interesting thing.”
Veterans Day Happenings in Ventura County
In Oxnard, a Veterans Day Parade and Ceremony will be held between 9:30 and 11:30 a.m. The parade will go from Ninth Street to Plaza Park, where a flag raising ceremony will begin at 11 a.m. Honored speakers this year include Capt. Rafael Miranda, USN Commanding Officer, Construction Battalion Training Center, Port Hueneme, and Mr. Calvin Youngblood, USN Veteran of Beirut, Lebanon. Grand Marshall for this year’s parade will be Santa Paula native Sgt. Major Marty Vasquez, retired Executive Director, First Marine Division Association. Plaza Park is located at 500 S. C St. in Oxnard. For more information, visit www.oxnard.org.
Moorpark will observe Veterans Day at 10 a.m. with demonstrations and ceremonies conducted by the American Legion Post 502, the city of Moorpark, American Legion Auxiliary, Boy Scouts of America, Kiwanis Club and Forty and Eight. The event will be held at the corner of Spring Road and Flinn Avenue in Moorpark. Call 805-523-3355 for more information.
In Simi Valley, the Rancho Simi Recreation and Park District will present a Veterans Day Ceremony beginning at 11 a.m. at Rancho Tapo Community Park and Veterans Plaza, 3700 Avenida Simi, Simi Valley.
The Channel Islands Maritime Museum will hold a special remembrance ceremony on Sunday, Nov. 11. The museum’s ship bell will sound six times at 11 a.m., followed by a two minute period of silence in memory of the 13 million lives that were lost in World War I. In addition, the museum’s latest exhibit, WWI 100th Anniversary: History in the Making, will run through Nov. 26. The museum is located at 3900 Bluefin Circle in Oxnard. For more information, visit www.cimmvc.org.
On Monday, Nov. 12, the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library will host its annual Veterans Day Event from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. with several events including a demonstration by the honor guard and remarks World War II veteran Hershel “Woody” Williams, who served in Iwo Jima with the 21st Marines, Third Marine Division, the sole surviving Marine from the war with the Presidential Medal of Honor. The Library is located at 40 Presidential Drive in Simi Valley. For more information, visit www.reaganfoundation.org.
Military personnel and first responders looking for a bite to eat will receive buy one, get one free deals on a variety of options at Luna Grill between Saturday, Nov. 10, and Monday, Nov. 12. The Mediterranean eatery has locations in both Ventura and Oxnard. For more information, visit www.lunagrill.com.