Courageous Veterans of Old City Cemetery
With Veterans Day landing on a Friday this year it was conducive for many events honoring those who have served.
Somewhat under the radar, Old City Cemetery (OCC) gave visitors a tour of a few of the grave sites of Military Medal recipients fought in the Civil War, World War I, World War II and the Spanish-American War. Amongst them they were recognized with these medals:
• 2 – Medal of Honor
• 2 – Distinguished Flying Cross
• 6 – Silver Star
• 23 – Bronze Star
• 5 – Air Medal
• 44 – Purple Heart.
Three volunteer tour guides took turns telling the stories of the circumstances surrounding the dead soldiers.
As we started walking we were told that "at one point, between the first and second World Wars, the city decided we needed a place to bury veterans who were not able to afford their own plots. In addition to the various grave sites throughout the cemetery, the city contributed the land in the back."
And, that’s where we headed.On our journey, we tried to find the grave of a young man who was honored with the Distinguished Flying Cross.
We were not able to find it. Many older plots with flat monuments sink into the ground and are covered over.
Two Medal of Honor Recipients were Newton T. Gould and Lebbeus Simkins.Here’s some information about Simkins:
He was a coxswain, a crew member who is in charge of navigation and steering of the ship. He served aboard the ships USS Brooklyn, Richmond, Lancaster, North Carolina and Princeton.
The Richmond, the ship Simkins was on, opened fire on all of the confederate steamers in range and a battle began.
Simkins was awarded the Medal of Honor "for extraordinary heroism in action while serving on board the U.S.S. Richmond during action against rebel forts and gunboats and with the ram Tennessee in Mobile Bay, Alabama, 5 August 1864. Despite damage to his ship and the loss of several men on board as enemy fire raked her decks, Coxswain Simkins performed his duties with skill and courage throughout a furious two-hour battle which resulted in the surrender of the rebel ram Tennessee and in the damaging and destruction of batteries at Fort Morgan."
It was during this time that Admiral Farragut, aboard the Hartford, made his famous command – "damn the torpedoes…..full speed ahead."
After the war he was a member of the San Diego Odd Fellows Lodge until he died in 1884.
For information about upcoming tours, visit http://www.oldcitycemetery.com/calendar.htm