Greetings, readers! I recently took over as editor of the San Diego Downtown News and am very excited to be at the helm. I have lived in San Diego since 1987, but I grew up about 20 miles southeast of Los Angeles, the daughter of a small town newspaper editor. Obviously this apple didn’t fall far from the tree.
Aside from my writing and editing experience, I am also a retired US Navy Chief Petty Officer (CPO), so it was very apropos that the first story I covered was the commissioning ceremony of the USS San Diego on May 19th. I’ve attended and participated in many military ceremonies, including promotions, change of commands, decommissionings, etc., but this was the first time I attended a commissioning ceremony and it was quite a treat.
San Diego has long been a Navy town and although this is the fourth USS San Diego, it is the first to have ever been homeported in its namesake city. I must say I stood in awe of the new ship, and have never seen so much “skin” on one, but as the Navy says, it is a “technological marvel,” with stealth-like qualities and it truly embodies the Navy of the future.
It was a pleasure to meet the new plankowner crew, and to see so many sailors in attendance from the other namesakes. The highlight was meeting MMC Francis Fenton. Fenton walked past the media stand in his original set of full dress blues and I was compelled to follow him to his seat and shake his hand. We had a good chat and he was more than happy to tell tales of his time on the original USS San Diego, CL-53.
Chief Fenton started his family here in San Diego back then, when the ship was temporarily berthed in Long Beach. He told me he would take the train down to see his wife and young daughter, and now the 96-year-old splits his time between his daughter’s Poway home and his home in Maine. I was thankful to connect Fenton with OSC Frantz, the CPO in charge of OI division on the current USS San Diego, who later assured me he’d take Fenton up to the Chief’s mess after the ceremony. Any of you former or current sailors out there know that will be a treat for him.
During the ceremony, I found myself tearing up quite a bit. Watching the proud crew standing in rank and file, listening to all the distinguished speakers, and the entire pomp and circumstance of the day was very moving. In the program, it was an absolute joy to see that some of the more challenging divisions on this combatant ship (Operations, Combat Systems, Electrical, Propulsion and Fire Control) have women in the top-tier positions of authority. We have come a very long way. My cover story will fill you in on how that day unfolded in America’s Finest City.
Having lived in San Diego county for the last 25 years, I am quite familiar with downtown and the changes it has endured, but I am really excited to get to know our current downtown district even better. San Diego is a beautiful city and is ever evolving. Over the coming weeks and months, I plan to immerse myself into the downtown scene. I will be riding public transportation and walking the beat, checking in on businesses, introducing myself, distributing papers and asking questions of the people I meet.
I’ll be sure to “tweet the beat” that I’ll be walking on any given day (so follow me on Twitter at @SDDowntownNews), but you just might find me at a downtown coffee shop watching the cook slinging breakfast, thumbing through the pages of a book at a bookstore, enjoying a salad for lunch along the bay, taking in a scavenger hunt or play, or sipping on one of the county’s many reknown micro brews at a local watering hole.
By the way, we may produce this paper, but this is your paper and I would like to hear from you. Email me (at email@example.com) and tell me what you like and what you don’t like; tell me what we do well and what we can do better. I hope to bring you the best downtown paper I possibly can. Enjoy your June (despite the gloom), and more importantly, enjoy this month’s edition of your San Diego Downtown News.