Veterans Day ceremony at Mt. Soledad to honor Jacqueline Cochran
Published - 11/05/17 - 09:27 AM | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Mt. Soledad. / PHOTO BY THOMAS MELVILLE
Mt. Soledad. / PHOTO BY THOMAS MELVILLE
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On Saturday, Nov. 11, the Mt. Soledad National Veterans Memorial will honor famed aviator Jacqueline Cochran. The event, which begins at 2 p.m., will feature keynote speaker Bonnie J. Dunbar, NASA astronaut, professor of aerospace engineering at Texas A&M, and former president and CEO of the Museum of Flight.

Dunbar is a native of Sunnyside, Wash. She received her bachelor of science and master of science degrees in ceramic engineering from the University of Washington in 1971 and 1975, and a doctorate in mechanical/biomedical engineering from the University of Houston in 1983. Dunbar accepted a position as a payload officer/flight controller at the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center in 1978 and served as a guidance and navigation officer/flight controller for the Skylab reentry mission in 1979.

She will also be present to commemorate famed Air Force aviation Cochran. Invocation will be conducted by Rev. Bear Ride, sister of Sally Ride who was the youngest NASA astronaut onboard the Space Shuttle Challenger when it went into space in 1983.

Cochran was an American pilot who held more speed, distance, and altitude records than any other pilot in the world, male or female, when she died. Although she grew up in poverty and had little formal education, she took her first flying lessons in 1932 and got her pilot license in three weeks.

In 1935, Cochran became the first woman to enter the Bendix Transcontinental Air Race, and won the Bendix Trophy. 1938.1941, she became a flight captain in the British Air Transport Auxiliary and trained a group of female pilots for war transport service. Upon her return to the United States, she undertook a program for the Army Air Forces and was named director of the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP), which supplied more than a thousand auxiliary pilots for the armed forces.

In 1945, she became the first woman civilian to be awarded the Distinguished Service Medal and in 1948 was commissioned a Lieutenant Colonel in the Air Force Reserve.

Cochran became the first woman to break the sound barrier, and that year set world speed records for 15, 100, and 500-km courses in 1953. She continued to set records, including an altitude mark of 55,253 ft., and the women’s world speed record of 1,429 mph. In 1969, she was promoted to Colonel in the reserve, from which she retired in 1970. She continued as a special NASA consultant after her retirement. Cochran was the first woman president of the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale. She later was inducted into the International Aerospace Hall of Fame and the U.S. Aviation Hall of Fame.

The Mt. Soledad Memorial Day ceremony includes music by Marine Band San Diego from the Marine Corps Recruit Depot (MCRD) and Marine Veteran Rocio Sanchez, and honors will be presented by the MCRD Color Guard and Rifle Team. As in years past, an emotionally moving “Fly By” will be conducted by Air Group One of the Commemorative Air Force, and the San Diego Performance Team Aircraft, which will cross over the Memorial following the keynote address, executing the traditional Missing Man formation.

The Mt. Soledad National Veterans Memorial is one of the unique veterans memorials in the United States, and stands high on La Jolla’s Mt. Soledad, offering panoramic views of San Diego, the Laguna and Palomar Mountains, the Pacific Ocean and Mexico.

Almost 5,000 individual veteran tributes, both living and deceased, are embedded on black granite plaques and mounted onto 11 curved walls. The Memorial honors United States veterans who have served our country from the days of the Revolutionary War up to the current conflicts across the Globe. The Memorial is open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Attendees are encouraged to arrive early. Old Town Trolley will provide complimentary shuttle service to and from the Memorial from nearby Mt. Soledad Presbyterian Church (6551 Soledad Mountain Road) and The French American School (6550 Soledad Mountain Road) parking lots.

For more information, contact Phil Kendro at 619-787-9923 or phil.kendro@gmail.com. Visit www.www.soledadmemorial.com for more information.

The Mt. Soledad National Veterans Memorial Association owns and operates the Memorial and its website.

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