The San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce held its 68th annual Flag, General & Senior Officers Ball Friday night at the US Grant downtown to honor the work, commitment and sacrifices of military men and women and their families in San Diego.
“The Chamber first started hosting the ball in 1946 to honor service members returning home from World War II,” said Jerry Rebel, chairman of the board of directors of the Chamber of Commerce, adding that about a quarter of all jobs in San Diego relate directly or indirectly to the military.
“Today, San Diego remains home to the largest concentration of military in the free world, and our interactions with the Navy, Marine Corps and U.S. Coast Guard are constant and mutually beneficial.”
The highlight of the evening was the presentation of five awards to local military leaders in thanks and acknowledgment of their service and accomplishments. Jerry Sanders, Chamber president, said this year’s awards section would be brief because the purpose of the evening was for the military leaders to enjoy themselves.
“Tonight’s really a party, so we want to get this part of it over with as soon as we can,” Sanders said.
The 2014 Honorary Chairman Award was presented to Rear Adm. Patrick Lorge, commander of Navy Region Southwest. Lorge has been in this post for a year, and said San Diego has been a particularly welcoming city.
“For those of you who have never lived anywhere other than San Diego, you probably don’t know this, but it’s a very inviting place, especially to those of us who do come here and move around the country and see a lot of different places,” Lorge said. “An open and welcoming place is not always what we find. And I am very, very thankful and my family is, too, for being so invited into your town.”
AZ 1 Brian Sandman was one of four distinguished military honorees. Sandman most recently served as forces analyst for the Pacific Fleet, where he was selected 2013 Sailor of the Year. He also completed his doctorate in business administration from North Central University.
Col. John Farnam, commanding officer of Marine Corps Air Station Miramar was also honored. Farnam, who received his bachelor’s degree from San Diego State University and is a graduate of the Naval War College, has received the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, two Meritorious Service Medals, two Air Medals and the Strike Flight Award with Numeral 7.
Capt. Sean Mahoney, captain of the Port of San Diego and commander of the Coast Guard Sector San Diego, also earned the Distinguished Military Honor, and announced that he will be retiring, but remaining in San Diego.
“[We] have lived many places and we noticed that San Diego is the most patriotic and most welcoming and supportive community we’ve lived in,” said Mahoney, who also has a long list of personal decorations to his name. “Thank you for that — it’s a big reason we decided to retire and stay here in the area.”
Capt. Scott Adams, commander of Naval Base Point Loma, was also recognized. Adams has completed six strategic deterrent patrols, and received a master’s degree in foreign affairs from Air War College, after which he served as deputy commander for training at Submarine ONE and as senior member of the Tactical Readiness Evaluation team at Submarine Force, Pacific Fleet.
The 340 attendees of the black-tie gala enjoyed a cocktail reception followed by dinner and dancing to the music of The Mighty Untouchables. The Marine Corps Band San Diego played a medley of the five services’ songs, and the Naval Medical Center San Diego Color Guard team also attended.
As is tradition, a table for six was left empty in the ballroom to remember missing comrades and loved ones from the five services and those who served as civilians.