Saturday, November 12, 2016

Reminiscing About Veteran’s Day on the USS Midway in San Diego…


Another year has passed and here we are in San Diego on Veteran’s Day. We have really never done anything special on this holiday before but Veteran’s Day 2016 was going to be different. I was reading about happenings in San Diego and came across a news story about the Midway Aircraft Carrier. It was first commissioned in 1945 and sailed the seas for 46 years before being decommissioned in 1992 after Desert Storm.


On Veteran’s Day, Veterans and their families were invited to tour the Midway free! Having not toured this ship before we decided we should check it out. As I have mentioned before we aren’t museum buffs but this was to be a bit different being on an actual ship. Besides it is always pleasant walking along the San Diego Harbor.


We found some free street parking about a 1/4 mile from the Midway and set out for the short stroll along the waterfront to it. Along the way the a Princess Cruise Ship was docked and readying to take hoards of people across the sea on a fun filled vacation. We often took cruises before retiring and smiled as we thought about the working stiffs boarding the ship for a week or more of forgetting about work and relaxing in ways one can only do on a cruise liner.


We found the line at the USS Midway for veterans and walked up the stairs to the top . It is quite an impressive ship and even with the moderate crowds onboard we never felt crowded due to its massive size. At 958 feet in length this ship would have over 4,000 crew members aboard so I guess it would take quite a crowd to make it feel crowded.


There were lots of planes on display and history unfolded before our eyes. This had me reflecting about Veteran’s Day… What started as Armistice Day commemorating the end of World War I evolved into Veteran’s Day, a day we honor those who serve and have served militarily for our country. Not all Veterans have been held in as high regard as those today…


During the Vietnam Era those individuals who volunteered and those who were drafted to fight in the very unpopular war were frowned upon and often treated with contempt. Today it isn’t uncommon for people to see a person in uniform and shout “Thanks for your service!”  It sure wasn’t always like that. I served in the Air Force during the Vietnam Era and although I never  served in Vietnam the mere fact that I was in the military made me feel like a very unpopular person in that day and age.


That longest and most unpopular war in which Americans ever fought was rife with people protesting in the USA. Young men and women returning from Vietnam were vilified One person wrote: “Sadly, those who served in Vietnam were portrayed as baby killers, psychos, drug addicts and warmongers for many years after.“ Most people during that time opposed the Vietnam war and as a result the returning Veterans were simply scapegoats. I  recall when I was in the Air Force how we tried hard to blend in when we weren’t in uniform so no one would think we were in the military.


Today, however, those same people are honored as they should have been long ago and today we celebrate all Veterans.. even those that fought in wars we thought should never had been started in the first place. It made me happy when I was walking on the flight deck of the Midway and seeing many of the Vietnam Veterans now proudly donning hats displaying they were Vietnam Vets. No more hiding… no more shame… replaced by a sense of pride as they too are being honored for their service performed in the most unpopular war we have had to date.


The celebration continued as BJ’s  Restaurant and Brewery in San Diego honored Vets with Happy Hour Beer Specials and a free meal ($12.75 or less).  Thank you BJ’s for rounding out our most enjoyable Veteran’s  Day ever!

NOTE: We will be here at Mission Bay RV Park until December 4th.


  1. John, Thank you for your service! I did 3 deployments to Vietnam, 3 of them on the Midway. As you say attitudes toward those in uniform were different then and guess some of it rubbed off ... as I doubt if I'll ever set foot back on that boat, not the best memories.

    1. Yes, John and Jeff, thank you for your service. My husband, Beach, was one of the lucky ones; he did four years Air Force active duty from 1964-1968 here in the states, but did not have to be assigned to Nam. However, my brother served there primarily as a weapons controller in 1971-72, among other assignments, and can't seem to get Southeast Asia out of his head. He now visits quite often, and it seems to be cathartic for him.

      Dee Tillotson
      Summerville, SC

  2. Yes John, thank you for your service, as well as both you and Sharon's Dads' service. My Dad (WWII) too. Those Vietnam days are long gone, except in some memories, most, like Jeff's, not so good. I had a 2S until just before the lottery and drew a 331, so never had the chance to go there. Until a month ago. What a fabulous nine days in a country with people who welcome Americans and others who fought the most unpopular war in American history. And probably the second most unpopular war in Vietnamese history. One of our tour guides was born in My Lai. His father was ARVN and was not able to leave after 1975. Served almost three years in prison after the war. I highly recommend doing this trip to anyone - veteran, draft-dodger, protester - who experienced the war in any way. It was life-changing for both of us.

  3. Nice blog post and showing the fact that no matter what war you fought in you should be honoured! Nice that you got to enjoy a tour of the USS Midway. We were going to visit it when we were in San Diego but when the day ended up being a nice sunny one we decided to stay outside and explore instead.

  4. Thank you for your service. What a great way to spend Veterans Day. We toured the USS Midway when we were in San Diego, too, and it is really something to see. I gave my husband a Vietnam Vet tag that is on the front of our RV. Lots of people comment to him about it, which is fantastic, considering the reception he received upon returning from his tour of duty. Thank you for a beautiful post on this special day for vets.