Bay Area honors veterans with parades, events

The Bay Area is honoring service members with Veterans Day events ranging from jubilant and creative to solemn and thoughtful.

In San Rafael, three World War II-era fighter planes flew over a 10 a.m. wreath-laying ceremony near the veterans‘ memorial statues on Avenue of the Flags.

The flight of the restored P-51 Mustangs was dubbed the “Mario Ghilotti Memorial Flight,” named for a Navy veteran and owner of a major construction company who supported veterans‘ causes in Marin County. He died in an accident in 2010.

Across the Bay in Richmond, the city is holding a re-launch of the World War II-era cargo ship the SS Red Oak Victory, days after the 70th anniversary of its launch on Nov. 9, 1944.

Now docked along Canal Boulevard, where the ship is a museum and open for tours, the ceremonies around it today will include a flower toss, tours, a USO dance show and musical performances.

Meanwhile, aboard retired aircraft carrier the USS Hornet, an 11 a.m. memorial service was followed by a ribbon-cutting ceremony for an exhibit honoring the Carrier Air Group 11, which flew from the Hornet during World War II.

The Air Group’s 11 surviving members will hold a panel discussion and recount how they shot down 105 enemy planes, destroyed 272 planes on the ground and damaged more than 100 Japanese ships.

The Air Group is also the subject of the documentary “Eleven” that will be screened in the USS Hornet Museum at 7:30 p.m. following an evening reception. The Hornet is moored at 707 W. Hornet Ave. on Pier 3 in Alameda and is offering free admission for veterans on Veterans Day.

An online exhibit “War Ink” launching today tells the story of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans’ tattoo art. Eighteen veterans from throughout California are featured in the exhibit at www.warink.org, a project of library systems throughout California.

Project scholar Jason Deitch said:

“This project represents both a unique collaboration for cutting edge and relevant cultural programming as well as a powerful context for the authentic and honest voice of veteran culture.”

Parades were scheduled through downtown Antioch and Petaluma Tuesday. Antioch‘s parade at 11 a.m. followed a helicopter landing and guest speakers at the Veteran’s Memorial at the base of L Street at the Marina.

Petaluma‘s parade begain at 1 p.m. and will include a helicopter flyover and will be bookended by programs in the Walnut Park gazebo, with music starting at noon and a Pledge of Allegiance ceremony following the parade.

A former Blue Angels pilot, Lt. Col. Matt Shortal, was scheduled to give the keynote address at Walnut Creek‘s Veterans Day ceremony at 11 a.m. Shortall has flown in 37 combat missions and was named the Marine Corps Aviator of the Year in 2004.

The ceremony was to be followed by a concert of patriotic songs, including a salute to the armed forces by the Walnut Creek Concert Band.

Morning ceremonies were scheduled all over the Bay Area, including at the Vallejo Veterans Memorial Park, at San Ramon Valley High School, a tree planting at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Menlo Park facility, and at Memorial Park in Cupertino.

This evening, more speakers and lectures are scheduled around the Bay, including at Las Positas College in Livermore, where Robert Morris will discuss how he turned his experience with drones in Afghanistan into a venture-backed startup using aerial photography to help farmers and wine growers monitor their crops.

In Antioch, the Contra Costa County Library will host a screening of the Korean War documentary “Chosin” at the El Campanil Theatre at 6:30 p.m.

Throughout the day, veterans are eligible for deals and free admission, including at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom, where there will be special in-park presentations, and at state parks throughout California.