Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Avenue of Heroes: David K. Werner

Prepared by: Caroline Werner (spouse)

Born into a 2nd World War Marine family with two uncles serving in the Pacific, and a third enlisted in the Army Air Corps, it was only natural that Captain David Werner chose to join the Marine Corps 42nd Officer Candidate School class in 1966 with hopes of going to Pensacola.

After graduating Officer Candidates School in December 1966, Dave went on to Basic and Naval Flight Officer school, and received orders to El Toro Marine Corps Air Station with assignment to reconnaissance squadron VMCJ-3.

While on deployment in 1968, David earned the Navy and Marine Corps Medal, the highest non-combat medal for Heroism for rescuing his unconscious pilot after a crash landing in an orange grove. His citation reads: “Although painfully injured by the impact of the crash, 1stLt Werner boldly moved to rescue the unconscious pilot. Ignoring the raging fire about to engulf the cockpit, he rapidly lifted him from the flaming wreckage. Unable to carry his companion from the dangerous area, Lt Werner resolutely dragged the disabled Marine through the flames, a distance of 30 meters, to the relative safety of an adjacent irrigation canal.”

In July 1969, he was assigned as part of a team of 12 to transit across the Pacific to Vietnam. They arrived in DaNang the day America launched to the moon, July 16, 1969. While there, David flew 16 missions in the EF-10B, 41 missions in the EA-6A, and 110 missions in the RF-4B.

In 1970, Captain Werner was assigned a priority mission to obtain urgently needed intelligence information on a suspected enemy storage and anti-aircraft complex. Prior to reaching the target, his aircraft came under a heavy volume of hostile anti-aircraft fire and was severely damaged. Captain Werner swiftly aided his pilot in maneuvering through the hostile fire and then expertly photographed the target area. For his efforts, David earned the Distinguished Flying Cross.

David reflects that the Marine Corps has been one of the best things in his life. He was given first class training and responsibilities beyond what he ever expected. He sees the Marine Corps as a life empowering opportunity. He appreciates how it has benefited the rest of his life.

The Avenue of Heroes military service recognition program is sponsored by the City of Coronado. Introduced in 2014, the program has honored 246 hometown heroes to date. On November 4, 2023, another 16 were honored. City staff and volunteers from the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2422, the Coronado Historical Association and 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 and the local Rotary Club passed out American flags. People lined Fourth Street to honor the fallen service members. As the procession approached the Coronado Bridge, a lone Navy SEAL stood at attention, saluting as he waited for the passage of his comrades. That moment made clear that Third and Fourth streets were already an Avenue of Heroes.
That spontaneous beginning launched the program in May 2015 with 18 banners. The Avenue of Heroes is a reminder that Coronado has a rich history and legacy of service to the 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]

More Local News