On Wednesday, San Diegans from across the county will join in a drive-by parade to celebrate the 100th birthday of local World War II veteran Eldon Garretson.
Garretson served in the United States Army Air Force from November 1942 to February 1946. He was honorably discharged in 1946 as a Staff Sergeant, having spent much of his career as an airplane mechanic for the B25/26 Medium Bombers.
In July 1943, Garretson was sent to gunnery school in Panama City, Florida and transitioned to a B24 “Liberator” airframe as a nose-gunner. The B24 airframe was manufactured right here in San Diego. Eldon would find flying himself over Saipan in July 1945 as the Allied victory began coming to fruition.
Having completed six “missions of mercy,” Garretson’s crew would drop medical supplies in 55-gallon drums to the prisoner-of-war (POW) camps below, helping to feed our Servicemen in captivity. On September 2, 1945, the day of the signing of the Peace Treaty in Tokyo Bay, Eldon’s crew flew a victory lap over Tokyo and then headed home. Eldon Garretson is the only surviving member of his 11-man crew.
We are fortunate to have many heroes throughout San Diego, and Eldon is certainly one who exemplifies what it means to be an American. His service to our nation during one of the most consequential times in world history contributed to securing victory and freedom not just for the United States, but for the world. In the face of tyranny and attacks on American soil, Garretson exhibited the bravery and sacrifice that has allowed our nation to prosper to this day. We are forever indebted to Eldon and those who fought alongside him, but the very least we can do is honor them with our endless gratitude.
These days, Eldon enjoys staying busy in the community, doing work around the house, and attending events held by the Republican Party of San Diego County. In 2014, Garretson was recognized as one of a handful of WWII Veterans in attendance of the Honor Flight, San Diego.
Wednesday’s celebration will begin at 12:30 p.m. at Florence Elementary School at 3914 1st Avenue, San Diego, with attendees forming up there. We will then drive along the parade route by proceeding to Front Street and then West Robinson Avenue, followed by Albatross Street (where Eldon lives), then West Pennsylvania Avenue to Curlew Street, and finally circle back to Robinson Avenue. There will be many other excited attendees in their vehicles, so if all else fails—just follow the crowd!
For more information about the event, please contact Karolyn Smith at 619-368-1518 or firstname.lastname@example.org.