The Miramar Air Show: Just Don’t Go

The San Diego Veterans For Peace is now in our second year of working to influence the public away from attending the Miramar Air Show. We view American militarism as a clear and present danger to our society and the world, and the most visible symbol of militarism in San Diego is the annual Miramar Air Show. Every day we read of budget cuts to virtually every aspect of government expenditure except for military spending that keeps on going up. Spending of our tax dollars should be a choice of the citizenry and not left solely to the political-military-industrial complex. However, we believe that the public is being influenced to accept continuous increases in military spending in part, by the display of military power exhibited at the Miramar Air Show.

Costs surrounding military air shows just keep on racking up. As an example, this past year the Air Force crashed a Thunderbird F-16 at a cost of $18.8 million. Luckily no one died, but when the next accident happens, those of us living near the Marine Corps Air Station Miramar may not be so lucky. To date, 10% of the pilots who train and fly for the Blue Angels have been in fatal accidents. This is an unacceptable cost for the military and for their families. The V-22 Osprey that regularly performs at the Miramar Air Show is fast becoming known for its frequent crashes. As of this writing there have been 39 V-22 fatalities with three more assumed dead off the Australian coast. Every time there is there is an accident, the military dictates some changes that they say lessens the risk factor, but the accidents keep happening. We hope that an accident doesn’t occur here in San Diego and we suggest the people consider ahead of time how they might deal emotionally with the death of an aircrew, the injury or death of people on the ground, and the destruction of an F-18 aircraft that cost $50 million. It is not rational to assume all this risk solely for entertainment purposes. If an accident happens, are we to be callous and walk away, telling ourselves that the military people killed were volunteers, so no big deal? Recently a Navy Seal, trained at incredible expense, was killed entertaining a crowd in New Jersey when his parachute failed to open properly. Do we accept this? Clearly, sending our military to risk their lives to protect us is one thing, to please a crowd is insanity.

We also need to ask the question, “Is the air show solely for entertainment?” The Miramar Air Show web site boasts that 500,000 people attend the air show every year, but they don’t tell us which military contractors participate by renting luxury chalets right up front. In those chalets, the government contractors can, according to the air show webpage, “entertain and network with clients”. The manufacturers and contractors make obscene profits from selling the government war goods and then use some of those profits to enjoy shaded seats with fabulous food and beverages. Meanwhile the military people participating in the air show risk their lives to entertain. That risk is clear to anyone who understands military operations. Rappelling from hovering helicopters, simulating ground assaults, and flying low while simulating strafing runs are hazards that we cannot afford, except for training and combat. These activities should not be used for entertaining military contractors making deals.

There is a third and disturbing aspect of the Miramar Air Show that worries us deeply. Our children are being brainwashed because the Miramar Air Show glorifies war. It makes war look cool, fun and interesting. What we see is a deliberate push by the military to convince our young children to buy into wars that our politicians will dream up in the future. Our children are being dazzled with weapons and air displays. The powerful effect on our children can clearly be seen in a YouTube documentary by Chris Smiley, “Disneyland of War, short documentary”. Ironically this video, about the Miramar Air Show, should not be watched by children!

We ask the readers to watch it and ask yourself, is this what we intended for our children?

While all the noise and firepower can be exhilarating, the members of San Diego Veterans For Peace believe that there is no reason to risk our people and equipment for a weekend entertainment activity. Let’s get serious and let the people that run this air show know that we disapprove, by refusing to attend. The Miramar Air Show, just don’t go!

Dave Patterson
NoMAS coordinator and past President, San Diego Veterans For Peace

A Veteran’s Perspective on Memorial Day

by Barry Ladendorf, Veterans For Peace Board President

First published May 30, 2016 on

As Americans mark Memorial Day, a holiday that invites us to reflect on the cost of war, we are reprinting these remarks that a leader of the Veterans for Peace made last week at Ralph Nader’s Breaking Through Power conference in Washington.

For 31 years, Veterans For Peace has been the only veterans organization that has rejected war, violence, nuclear weapons, the destruction of the environment created by war, the steady erosion of our civil liberties, the corporate greed that drives our wars and the systemic injustice it produces, here at home and abroad, all in the name of advancing the American empire.

As veterans, we refuse to accept the notion that, in order to protect the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic, the Constitution that we swore to support and defend can be ignored, shredded and cast aside as an inconvenient nuisance standing in the way of American hegemony.

It is abundantly clear that the threat to the Constitution does not come from some far-off land. It is not China or Russia or even ISIS that endangers the Constitution, but it is the enemy within the borders of our own country and right here in this city.

As members of Veterans For Peace, we bring to the peace movement our collective experience from our participation in every war from World War II up to and including the current wars in the Middle East. Our experience teaches that war and violence do not bring lasting peace. Therefore, our founders included in our Statement of Purpose a commitment that we would seek to end war, only by nonviolent means.

Many of our members come home from war broken down, physically, mentally, emotionally and morally. But we work to transform and heal ourselves from soldiers, sailors, marines, and airmen trained to wage war to men and women committed to becoming non violent peacemakers.

We pledge to not give in to war and violence and the injustice it brings to all living things but to continue to work for peace with all likeminded people.

SDVFP’s Miramar Air Show Announcement

May, 2016 – Updated May 8, 2017

The San Diego Veterans For Peace, Chapter 91, has now embarked on a five-year plan to change public understanding of what the Miramar Air Show is actually all about. Here’s a short list.

The Miramar Air Show:

  • Glorifies war with an exciting and colorful show of speed, power and noise.
  • Celebrates the skills and machinery that exist to kill, maim and destroy.
  • Misuses taxpayer’s money for entertainment and defense industry marketing and sales.
  • Is dangerous – 10% of Blue Angel’s pilots have been killed in accidents. Miramar jets have already crashed in San Diego neighborhoods.
  • Serves as a misleading recruiting tool for our unsuspecting youth.

Over the next 5 years we intend to encourage the public to recognize their exposure to skillful propaganda and eventually lose interest in the Miramar Air Show.

We will work to steer the public to resist attending … in sufficient numbers to make the show not worth the time, effort, risk and expense.

Our goal is to effectively shut down the Miramar Air Show due to non-participation. To accomplish this, we need donations to help us print and distribute stickers, door hangers, posters, flyers, banners, etc. 100% of all donations go to the production of these materials and are tax deductible for donors who itemize their taxes as we are a 501-C-3 veteran’s educational organization.

Donations may be made online or checks may be mailed to:

13805 Royal Melbourne Square
San Diego, CA 92128

We thank you for your serious consideration of our efforts.

San Diego Veterans For Peace

Watch an independent documentary to see what is really happening at the Miramar air show

SDVFP Give Out 2500th Sleeping Bag Set in Downtown San Diego

Veteran members, associate members, and friends and supporters of the San Diego Veterans For Peace, Chapter #91 are proud to announce that in November 2015 the 2500th sleeping bag set was given out to the homeless in downtown San Diego!

It is through the generous on-going financial contributions of friends and the general public that our Compassion Campaign is able to indefinitely continue this humane life-saving program.

In December 2010 the San Diego chapter of the national Veterans For Peace organization began the “Compassion Campaign” — an outreach effort to help displaced homeless veterans. Ignited by conversations with many homeless veterans on the street in downtown San Diego, the chapter membership determined that the lives of homeless veterans and non-veterans downtown could improve significantly if given basic equipment – like a sleeping bag, as many were sleeping rough on hard pavement each night with only a light blanket, their jacket, or nothing.

Putting ideas into action SDVFP contacted local vendors about the purchase of 100 sets at wholesale prices. The humble goal of raising $3,000 was announced to members and supporters of the San Diego Veterans For Peace, with the funds to cover the sleeping bag sets (sleeping bag and waterproof nylon stuff-sack).

News of the outreach program began to spread, first to friends and families, and soon after to the general public – the response was magnificent support enabling the program to buy and distribute sleeping bag sets well beyond its original goal.

The “Compassion Campaign” now continues year-round, with veteran and associate chapter members (some who are in their 80’s) quietly delivering bag sets downtown late at night after the homeless have bedded down for the night. This makes finding those truly in need of items easier!

Bag sets are now purchased directly from the Coleman Company in Colorado and are ordered in quantities of 50 or 100 as donations come in. The Coleman Company generously provides bag sets at tax-free wholesale prices and pays the shipping charges to San Diego. The cost of a set is $33. All administrative costs for this program are pre-paid through the financial help of a generous donor.

Donations may be made online with a credit card or PayPal or checks made out to “SDVFP” can be mailed to:

11685 Scripps Lake Drive
San Diego, CA 92131

Each donor receives a card of thanks and a receipt for tax purposes; SDVFP is a 501-C-3 veteran’s educational organization.

For additional information, please contact Gil Field at or (858) 342-1964.

Submitted by:
San Diego Veterans For Peace
Gil Field, Director for Communications

From Japan to Vietnam, Radiation and Agent Orange Survivors Deserve Justice From the US

by Marjorie Cohn, Truthout | Op-Ed

We have just marked anniversaries of the war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by the US government against the people of Japan and Vietnam. Seventy years ago, on August 6, 1945, the US military unleashed an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, killing at least 140,000 people. Three days later, the United States dropped a second bomb, on Nagasaki, which killed 70,000. And 54 years ago, on August 10, 1961, the US military began spraying Agent Orange in Vietnam. It contained the deadly chemical dioxin, which has poisoned an estimated 3 million people throughout that country.

Devastating Effects of Radiation in Hiroshima and Nagasaki

On the day of the first atomic bombing, 19-year-old Shinji Mikamo was on the roof of his house in Hiroshima helping his father prepare it for demolition when he saw a huge fireball coming at him. Then he heard a deafening explosion and felt a searing pain throughout his body. He said he felt as if boiling water had been poured over him. Shinji was three-quarters of a mile from the epicenter of the bomb. His chest and right arm were totally burned. Pieces of his flesh fell from his body like ragged clothing. The pain was unbearable. Shinji survived but most of his family perished.

Shinji’s daughter, Dr. Akiko Mikamo, told her father’s story at the Veterans for Peace convention in San Diego on August 7. She wrote the book, Rising From the Ashes: A True Story of Survival and Forgiveness From Hiroshima. Akiko’s mother Miyoko, who was indoors about a half-mile from the epicenter, was also severely injured in the bombing, but she too survived.

Akiko said 99 percent of those who were outdoors at the time of the blast died immediately or within 48 hours. A week after the bombing, thousands of people had experienced a unique combination of symptoms, Susan Southard wrote in the Los Angeles Times:

Their hair fell out in large clumps, their wounds secreted extreme amounts of pus, and their gums swelled and bled. Purple spots appeared on their bodies, signs of hemorrhaging beneath the skin. Infections ravaged their internal organs. Within a few days of the onset of symptoms, many people lost consciousness, mumbled deliriously and died in extreme pain; others languished for weeks before either dying or slowly recovering.

Southard notes that the US government censored Japanese news reports, photographs, testimonies and scientific research about the condition of the survivors.

To read more stories like this, visit Human Rights and Global Wrongs

Gen. Leslie Groves, director of the Manhattan Project, which created the atom bombs, testified before Congress that death resulting from exposure to large amounts of radiation takes place “without undue suffering.” He added it is “a very pleasant way to die.”

Thirty years after the end of World War II, numerous cases of leukemia, stomach cancer and colon cancer were documented.

The bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were criminal because at the time Japan was already defeated and had taken steps to surrender. With these atomic bombings, the United States launched the Cold War, marking the beginning of its nuclear threat.

The Continuing Legacy of Agent Orange in Vietnam

Sixteen years after the United States’ nuclear attacks on Japan, the US military began spraying Vietnam with Agent Orange-dioxin. In addition to the more than 3 million Vietnamese people killed during the Vietnam War, an equivalent number of people suffer serious diseases and children continue to be born with defects from Agent Orange. US veterans of the Vietnam War and their children suffer as well.

Agent Orange caused direct damage to those exposed to dioxin, including cancers, skin disorders, liver damage, pulmonary and heart diseases, defects to reproductive capacity and nervous disorders. It resulted in indirect damage to the children of those exposed to dioxin, including severe physical deformities, mental and physical disabilities, diseases and shortened life spans.

Dan Shea joined the US Marine Corps in 1968 at the age of 19. He served in Vietnam a little more than two months. But he was in Quang Tri, one of the areas where much of the Agent Orange was sprayed. When Shea saw barrels “all over” with orange stripes on them, he had no idea the dioxin they contained would change his life forever. When they ran out of water, he and his fellow Marines would drink out of the river.

In 1977, Shea’s son Casey was born with congenital heart disease and a cleft palate. Before his third birthday, Casey underwent heart surgery for the hole in his heart. Ten hours after surgery, Casey went into a coma and died seven weeks later.

Just as the US censored information about the effects of radiation after the atomic bombings, the US government and the chemical companies that manufactured Agent Orange – including Dow and Monsanto – also suppressed the 1965 Bionetics study that demonstrated dioxin caused many birth defects in experimental animals. The spraying of Agent Orange finally stopped when that study was made public.

Shea, who also addressed the Veterans for Peace convention, works with me on the Vietnam Agent Orange Relief and Responsibility Campaign. We seek to obtain relief for the Vietnamese, Vietnamese-American and US victims of Agent Orange through the recently introduced H.R. 2114. US vets have received some compensation, but not nearly enough. Vietnamese people and Vietnamese-Americans have received nothing for their suffering.

This bill would assist with the cleanup of dioxin still present in Vietnam. It would also provide assistance to the public health system in Vietnam directed at the 3 million Vietnamese people affected by Agent Orange. It would extend assistance to the affected children of male US veterans who suffer the same set of birth defects covered for the children of female veterans. It would also lead to research on the extent of Agent Orange-related diseases in the Vietnamese-American community, and provide them with assistance. Finally, it would lead to laboratory and epidemiological research on the effects of Agent Orange.

Agent Orange in Japan

The US government has also denied that Agent Orange is present on Okinawa, the Pentagon’s main support base during the Vietnam War. In February 2013, the Pentagon issued a report denying that there is Agent Orange on Okinawa, but it did not order environmental tests or interview veterans who claimed exposure to Agent Orange there. “The usage of Agent Orange and military defoliants in Okinawa is one of the best kept secrets of the Cold War,” according to Jon Mitchell, a journalist based in Tokyo.

“The US government has been lying about Agent Orange on Okinawa for more than 50 years,” Mitchell said. An investigation by Okinawa City and the Okinawa Defense Bureau found dioxin and other components of Agent Orange in several barrels found on Okinawa. Many bore markings of Dow Chemical, one of the manufacturers of Agent Orange. The Japan Times cited reports of military veterans who said that burying surplus chemicals, including Agent Orange, “was standard operating procedure for the US military on Okinawa.”

Two hundred and fifty US service members are claiming damages from exposure to Agent Orange on Okinawa during the Vietnam War, but very few have received compensation from their government. In spite of the Pentagon report, the US Department of Veterans Affairs granted relief in October 2013 to a retired Marine Corps driver who has prostate cancer. The judge ruled that his cancer was triggered by his transport and use of Agent Orange.

Abolish Nuclear Weapons and Compensate Victims of Agent Orange

Besides being criminal, the United States’ use of nuclear weapons in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and poisoning of Vietnam and Okinawa with Agent Orange, are a shameful legacy. The denial and cover-up of each of these crimes adds insult to injury.

As we work toward a nuclear deal with Iran, the US government should abide by its commitment to nuclear disarmament in the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

It is also time to fully compensate the victims of Agent Orange and fund a total cleanup of the areas in Vietnam that remain contaminated by the toxic chemical. Urge your congressional representative to cosponsor H.R. 2114, the Victims of Agent Orange Relief Act of 2015.

Finally, we must hold our leaders accountable for their crimes in Japan and Vietnam, and ensure that such atrocities never happen again.

Marjorie Cohn is a professor at Thomas Jefferson School, former president of the National Lawyers Guild, and deputy secretary general of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers. A co-coordinator of the Vietnam Agent Orange Relief and Responsibility Campaign, she is on the national advisory board of Veterans for Peace. Her latest book is Drones and Targeted Killing: Legal, Moral, and Geopolitical Issues.

Photo Atomic cloud over Nagasaki from Koyagi-jima, August 9, 1945 by Hiromichi Matsuda.

Copyright Truthout. Reprinted with permission.