Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Avenue of Heroes: Major John Sexton

Written by: Kitty Sexton (wife)

John Sexton spent 37 years in a Naval uniform achieving the rank of major in the U.S. Marine Corps and commander in the Navy. He enlisted in the Navy in 1967 to attend the Naval Academy Prep School before attending and graduating from Annapolis in 1972.

Major Sexton served in all three combat arms as a Marine Corps officer from 1972 until 1983. He commanded two artillery batteries and an infantry company before serving as a tank battalion fire support coordinator. He earned a master’s degree in counseling psychology from the University of Northern Colorado, and a master’s degree and a PhD in clinical psychology from the California School of Professional Psychology.

He became a Navy clinical psychologist in 1983 and served in varied assignments around the world. CDR Sexton was one of the first graduates of the Congressionally mandated Department of Defense Psychopharmacology Demonstration Project, in which he completed approximately 75% of the medical school courses at the Uniformed Services University School of Medicine, followed by a one-year residency at Walter Reed Army Medical
Center, both in Bethesda, Maryland. He was assigned to Naval Medical Center, Portsmouth, Virginia; and in February 1995, became the nation’s first independent practitioner prescribing psychologist. He continued to serve as a prescribing psychologist with tours at Naval Hospital Camp Pendleton in Oceanside, California, and Naval Medical Center, San Diego.

CDR Sexton made more than 80 national and state-level presentations to psychological associations and state legislators and was featured in nationally broadcast radio and television programs. In addition to his many military awards, CDR Sexton received two American Psychological Association Presidential citations.

He retired after nearly 32 years of service as a Naval officer and then served as a staff psychologist at the Counseling and Psychological Services of the University of California, San Diego, where he co-founded the San Diego Chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. In addition to his national impact on psychology and suicide prevention, Dr. Sexton helped our community by serving for a dozen years on the Coronado SAFE board of directors.

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]