Sunday, February 25, 2024

Avenue of Heroes: John E. Schaefer

Prepared by: Elizabeth Roberts (daughter) and John Schaefer III (son)

LCDR John Edward Schaefer, Jr. was born in Orlando, Oklahoma,on December 13, 1924. He received his commission after graduating from Columbia University in 1945. As a Surface Warfare Officer, he served on four destroyers, the USS Bennion, USS Rooks, USS McCord, and USS Lind. John was then selected for flight training and was designated as a Naval Aviator in 1949. His first flying assignments were with the VF-54 “Copperheads,” and then with the VF-74 “Be-Devilers.”

During the Korean Conflict, John flew combat missions with the “Redtails’’ of Air Anti-Submarine Squadron 21. Shortly thereafter, he attended the General Line School in Monterey. His vast flying experience landed him assignments at both the Advanced Training Command, and later as a senior instructor at the All-Weather Flight Training Unit in Key West, Florida. There, he instructed other pilots in the F3D-2 Skyknight, the first operational jet-powered, carrier-based night fighter in the world.

John was then selected for, and graduated from, test pilot school. From 1957 to 1959, he tested Catapult Launch and Landing Arresting Systems at Lakehurst NAS. Back on a carrier – the USS Ticonderoga – he served on the staff of Commander Cruiser Destroyer Flotilla Eleven from 1959-1961 as they conducted training operations with the 7th Fleet throughout the Far East. In 1961, John moved his family to Coronado where he served as the Officer in Charge (OIC) of the San Clemente Range. His final assignment was as the OIC NAS North Island Control Tower. John retired on June 30, 1966.

Over the course of his Naval Aviation Career, he amassed over 4,000 flight hours across 11 different planes, 184 carrier landings, and while a test pilot at NAS Lakehurst, he accumulated 382 catapult launches and 1,295 arrested landings. He was awarded the United Nation Occupational Ribbon, Asiatic Pacific, Korean Service, World War II Victory, and two National Defense Service Medals.

His grandson, John Edward Schaefer IV, is carrying on his legacy of service. John IV received his commission as an Ensign in the U.S. Navy in 2019 and earned his Naval Aviator wings of gold on June 24, 2022. He currently flies FA-18 Super Hornets based in Naval Air Station, Lemoore, California.

The Avenue of Heroes Program is a military service recognition program sponsored by the City of Coronado. Introduced in 2014, the program has honored 230 hometown heroes to date. On May 20, 2023, another 15 were honored. 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 program was inspired spontaneously with the movement of two Navy SEALs to their final resting place. News spread quickly throughout the city and 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 Avenue of Heroes program is a reminder that Coronado has a rich history and legacy of service to country.

Bella Villarin
Bella Villarin
Bella is a proud military brat who has been a resident of Coronado since 2015. She was born in Japan, and after a short stay in Virginia, traveled extensively throughout Asia while living in Singapore and picking up another language. A senior at Coronado High School, Bella can be found at the driving range or golf course when not in school, studying, writing, playing the guitar, or spending time with her family. Have news to share? Send tips, story ideas or letters to the editor to: [email protected]

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