Every November 11 at 11am, the Rotary Club of Carlsbad hosts the Veteran's Day Military Review at the Army Navy Academy.  This event salutes our veterans with a military review, speeches and a special flyover.  The event this year had reduced participation due to COVID restrictions.  You can watch the recorded ceremony at  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CRxx-gnF5gY.  Our club president, Ava Payne, gave this speech at the event:
Good morning. I am Ava Payne, and as president of the Rotary Club of Carlsbad, I am honored, and humbled, to preside over a club that over the years has counted as members dozens of veterans, those brave, selfless individuals who served our country – and who we are celebrating here today.
Like many of you, the horrors of war – and the commitment to defend our nation, our freedom, our liberty, regardless of the cost and personal sacrifice – are foreign to me. What I know of war, and the military, comes from the movies, the history books, and TV news coverage. Through Rotary, I have had the opportunity to meet some very distinguished veterans, and on this day I felt my most appropriate contribution to this ceremony would be to tell you about a few of them. 

First, there’s Lt. Col. Frank Whitton, whom we lost less than a month ago. Frank joined the Marines in 1956, fought in the Vietnam War and was an aide to the commanding general of the Camp Pendleton Marine Corps Base. He played a key role in establishing a camp there for 50,000 Vietnamese refugees. Since moving to Carlsbad more than two decades ago, he has continued to embody the Rotary slogan of “service above self,” volunteering for so many worthwhile causes that in 2015 he was named Citizen of the Year. He helped establish the Service Disabled Veteran Owned Business Network, a national group that helps disabled veterans succeed in business. He was an inspiration to all who met him.

Carlsbad Mayor Matt Hall, too, is a Vietnam Veteran who was awarded the Purple Heart. He has been mayor of our wonderful city for 10 years and has left a lasting legacy of good government and smart management. He has also continued to put “service above self,” volunteering at numerous Rotary functions. Matt is a living example of the “servant leader” we hear so much about, a leadership philosophy in which the main goal of the leader is to serve. 

Russ Hanthorn is another longtime Rotarian who I’m sure many of you know. Russ served in the Marine Corps for 30 years, rising to the rank of Colonel. After retiring in 1988 he served as a Junior ROTC instructor and was elected to the Army Navy Academy Board in March 2012. He stepped down in August of 2013 to serve as Head of Schools, and then Chief of Staff at the Academy. At Rotary he was instrumental in setting up our Camp Pendleton club and has been one of our most active, and gracious volunteers.

And then there’s Neil Black, one of the longest-serving POWs in American history. Neil was a Pararescueman of “Dutchy 41”, a rescue helicopter shot down in Vietnam in 1965. He was held in a North Vietnamese prison until his repatriation in February 1973, after 2,703 days of captivity. He later became an Air Force pilot and capped his military career as an Air Operations Officer with the U.S. Military Liaison Mission to the Soviet Forces in East Germany from January 1984 until his retirement in February 1987. Like our other Rotary veterans, he has continued to put service before self and recently served as a planning commissioner with the city of Carlsbad.

I could go on, and on, and on. The Rotary Club of Carlsbad is proud to have no fewer than 18 military veterans among our members, including Rick Borg, David Brahms, the late Tom Curtin, Gene Forsyth, Bob Herrmann, Griff Lewis, Terry Maher, Roy Meenes, Jeff Moses, Robby Robinson, Peter Rogers, Ed Scarpelli, and Jeff Van Siclen.

If there’s a common thread among these proud, brave veterans, it is that phrase I’ve mentioned several times before – service above self. Their service in the military led to a lifetime of service in their community, and that says a lot about the character and the caliber of those who served – and those who continue to serve.

 In closing, let me thank the Army & Navy Academy for co-hosting this annual event with our club. And to all the military veterans who are watching this ceremony today, I know I speak for all the members of our club when I say, We salute you, and a hearty thank you for your service. Happy Veterans Day.