Saturday, July 13, 2024

Avenue of Heroes: Ken Castleman

Prepared by: Jeffrey Davis (son-in-law)

Kenneth “Ken” Castleman was born in Lefors, Texas, in 1929. His family moved to California in 1930, and Ken graduated from Downey High School in 1947.

Ken Castleman was inducted into the Army and stationed at Fort Ord, Monterey, in February 1951. After completing basic and heavy weapons training, he attended leadership school and was promoted to corporal. In March 1952, he was assigned squad leader of the 4th squad, second platoon G company. 4th squad was a heavy weapon 30 caliber machine gun group. Castleman served 10 months on the front lines in Korea from February to December 1952, during which he was promoted to Sergeant First Class. During those months in Korea, his usual routine consisted of four to six weeks on the front line and one to two weeks back at base camp before being reassigned to a new sector. Once at the new sector, it was Groundhog Day all over again, consisting of digging in at the front line, off and on patrol, and setting up ambushes.

Following one of his patrols, Ken was ordered to report to Regimental Headquarters. Once ordered, he told them he would be there as soon as he had a chance to clean up. Despite his intentions, Ken was told they wanted him in HQ immediately. So, he grabbed his gear and reported as ordered. There, his commanding officer informed him that General Eisenhower had recently been elected President and that he was selected to be a member of the honor guard that would escort the President at the inauguration parade. Sergeant First Class Ken Castleman marched as the first unit in the parade and was later featured in Life Magazine.

Shortly after serving in the Presidential Honor Guard, Ken received his separation from active duty and was placed in the Army Reserve. Ken returned to his home in Antioch, California, where he married and raised his family of three children. Ken received an honorable discharge from military service in May of 1956.

Today, at the ripe young age of 94, Ken lives in Coronado with his daughter, Mardelle, and his son-in-law, Jeff.

The Avenue of Heroes military service recognition program is sponsored by the City of Coronado. Introduced in 2014, the program has honored 261 hometown heroes to date. On May 18, 2024, 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]

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