Thirteen veterans will be honored Thursday, Nov. 10 at the LGBT Center when they are inducted into the Benjamin F. Dillingham, III & Bridget Wilson LGBT Veterans Wall of Honor.
Some of the LGBTQ veterans will speak and share their stories during the ceremony before being added to the Veterans Wall of Honor, which began in 2011.
This is the first in-person ceremony since 2019 due to COVID-19. Several veterans on the list this year are deceased, but they are still remembered.
It will take place from 6-8 PM. Nov. 10 at The Center, 3909 Centre Street. The program will include celebration of military colors, the National Anthem, recognition of inductees, and special remarks.
People wishing to attend are asked to RSVP at bit.ly/vwoh2022 online.
Those being honored include: Beth F. Coye, Bob Carney, David Root, David Huskey, Edward Conlon, Hector Rodriguez, Houston Burnside, Jr., John Acosta, Lark Bearden, Michael Donovan, Michael W. Klein, Midori Sabanal, and Thomas Carey.
Beth Francis Coye
She was a Naval commander who served 20 years and 8 months from Feb. 25, 1960, until her retirement in Sept. 1980.
“My own groundbreaking naval career–which began more than 50 years ago when I was a rare female intelligence officer–was challenging and exciting,” wrote Coye in The Ashland Chronicle.
“I was born and raised in a military family…,” wrote Coye, adding that her father was the late Rear Admiral John S. Coye, Jr. He was a top submarine skipper during World War II.
After she retired, she purchased an office coffee service business in San Diego. She also taught at the Naval War College, San Diego Community College, and was an assistant professor at San Diego State University for three years. Coye also wrote several books, including My Navy Too.
Coye offered her opinion when President Donald Trump went to Helsinki, met with Russian President Vladmir Putin and declared he believed Putin over the U.S. military intelligence that Putin interfered in the 2016 U.S. election.
“With regret, I declare our American president to be a domestic threat to our democracy…” wrote Coye in the Providence Journal in 2018, adding that it was based on her experience including three intelligence assignments.
“Trump’s hostility towards the military community demonstrates that he is unfit to be Commander-in-Chief and self-interest dominate his psyche rather than the values of service and sacrifice,” wrote Coye.
David Charles Root
“The first time I heard the word homosexual was when Anita Bryant said it in 1977,” said Root. “I did not understand what Gay was.”
Root is from Seminole, Florida, and recalled the controversy when Bryant led a successful campaign to repeal an anti-gay discrimination ordinance in Miami-Dade County that was designed to protect Gay people.
But Root was 18 years old at the time. He was not drafted, and he enlisted in the U.S. Army.
“The military was a blessing to me,” said Root. “The Army gave me an opportunity. I have my benefits.”
David said he was 10 pounds underweight, and his recruiter told him he needed to gain five more pounds. His recruiter took him to McDonalds, and didn’t allow him to use the restroom before he returned and weighed in. David said he appeared to have gained almost five pounds and enlisted.
“I was not a masculine male by any means. I was not a typical grunt,” said Root, laughing.
“The discipline you get is a lifetime bonus,” said Root. “You recall those things, like in boot camp, when you can push through (things).”
“It was the first time I ever shot a gun in my life and threw a hand grenade,” said Root.
He was stationed in Hawaii and played the French horn in a band. David explored Gay clubs in Hawaii, but no one ever asked him about that.
“No one knew you were Gay. How could you be harassed?” he said.
He said his sergeant once asked him if he was seen holding hands with a man while on roller skates, and he denied it because it wasn’t true.
He said he was promoted and became a squad leader. David decided against re-enlistment.
“I couldn’t handle wearing olive drab green. To this date, I hate olive drab green,” said Root, laughing. “It was not in my color palate. It made me look washed up.”
Root is a hair stylist and a member of the Metropolitan Community Church in San Diego.
Houston Burnside, Jr.
Houston Burnside, Jr. served in the Air Force and was a staff pastor at the Metropolitan Community Church in San Diego when he was killed in a traffic accident in his van on Oct. 8, 2018. He was 66.
He was paralyzed from the waist down during surgery when he was a young man in what was described as a medical mistake.
He did not let that stop him from leading an active life. He used a wheelchair, and he visited many people, including those in county jail. His husband is Bruno Giebultowski.
The Center’s COVID safety measures require masking indoors, according to Gus Hernandez, Senior Director of Communications.