Friday, June 21, 2024

Avenue of Heroes: Lieutenant Colonel George Nasif

Written by: Jan Thompson (daughter)

LtCol George Nasif joined the Marine Corps shortly after high school graduation in 1934, starting out as a bugler. While serving aboard USS Lexington, Nasif became interested in flying. Against all odds, he was selected from the enlisted ranks for training and received his Naval Aviation Pilot certification on March 18, 1942. He was sent to Naval Air Station North Island for further training. He became a “flying sergeant” in Marine Scout Bombing Squadron VSMB-131, the first squadron of its type. He and his three brothers would all serve in World War II, one in the Army Air Forces, one as a corpsman, and one as a photojournalist.

Nasif and his unit arrived at Guadalcanal in January 1943. His first mission on Jan. 28, 1943, was to attack a Japanese supply convoy escorted by destroyers. Here, he was the first Marine Corps torpedo pilot to hit an enemy destroyer directly, sinking it. He received the Distinguished Flying Cross and a promotion to second lieutenant. He went on to earn several Air Medals for actions in the Solomon Islands campaign.

Nasif ended the war as a captain — not bad for a man still officially listed as a staff sergeant. To keep his battlefield rank, he had to pass an Officer Candidate Test. As he turned in his test papers, the officer in charge shook his hand and said, “Congratulations, George.”

In the summer of 1943, Nasif joined Air Squadron VMTB-242 and was selected to train the new squadron up to combat readiness. He went on to participate in the Battle of Bougainville and the Marianas.

He continued serving his country and participated in the action against enemy forces in Korea. He arrived in Korea in 1952 as a major and assistant commander of the 1 st Engineer Battalion where he was commended with Combat “V” for his personal “initiative and selfless dedication to duty.”

He was promoted, one last time, to lieutenant colonel. He did not come back home unscathed, however. His service brought with it great challenges that today we might call post-traumatic stress disorder. Nasif retired in 1956 after 22 years of service to the Marine Corps and his country.

The Hometown Banner Program is a military service recognition program sponsored by the City of Coronado. Introduced in 2014, the program has honored 218 hometown heroes. On Nov. 5, 2022, another 12 will be honored. The City funds all the costs for the program. City staff and volunteers from the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2422, the Coronado Historical Association and the Third and Fourth Streets Neighborhood Association oversee its operation. In 2011 the inspiration for the program came spontaneously with the movement of two Navy SEALs to their final resting place. News spread quickly in Coronado. The local Rotary Club passed out American flags. People lined Fourth Street to honor the fallen service members. As the procession approached the San Diego-Coronado Bridge, a lone Navy SEAL stood at attention, saluting as he waited for the passage of his comrades. At that moment, it was clear that Third and Fourth streets were already an Avenue of Heroes. From that spontaneous beginning, the program was launched in May 2015 with 18 banners. Ceremonies are held twice yearly and men and women with ties to the community have been recognized from the Air Force, Army, Navy and Marine Corps. The Hometown Banner program is a reminder that Coronado has a rich history and legacy of service to country.

Managing Editor
Managing Editor
Originally from upstate New York, Dani Schwartz has lived in Coronado since 1996. She is happy to call Coronado home and to have raised her children here. In her free time she enjoys reading, exercising, trying new restaurants, and just walking her dog around the "island." Have news to share? Send tips or story ideas to: [email protected]

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