Fred Bell is the director of the Palm Springs Air Museum. Since 2012 when I began the Palm Springs Fallen Heroes project, the air museum has supported me with many events and a beautiful display that I put together.


Palm Springs Post 519 honors fallen heroes

Palm Springs Owen Coffman Post 519 - Palm Springs, CA

Hola from Palm Springs, Calif! I'm Post 519 Historian Lee Wilson Jr., and I began the Palm Springs Fallen Heroes project to honor two of my former students from Cathedral City High School: PFC Ming Sun/KIA Iraq 2007 and CWO2 Suresh N.A. Krause/KIA Afghanistan 2012. It quickly morphed into honoring all our local heroes. I spent a lot of my summer vacation researching our local 27 KIA/MIA from World War II, Korea and Vietnam, plus Ming and Suresh. We recently replaced all 27 Fallen Heroes banners that were located in the air museum's parking lot and had a photo oportunity with various sponsors. These included not only our Post 519, but the Post 519 color guard, Auxiliary, Sons of the Legion, Riders, and our local VFW Post 1534. The Palm Springs Air Museum is one of the nation's premier air museums! Next time you are in town, please swing by the Legion and check out my Fallen Heroes display, then join us at our post in beautiful downtown Palm Springs at 400 N. Belardo Rd, Palm Springs, 92262 (760-325-6229). Like us on Facebook at Palm Springs American Legion Post 519 and check out our webpage at

George Ciampa is a World War II veteran of Normandy and served in the occupation of Germany. George is a member of Post 519 and honors Richard Francis Gill, MIA Guadalcanal, the first person from Palm Springs to give his life in service to our country.

Kitty Kieley Hayes is a local elementary school teacher, member of our post Auxiliary, and the niece of 2nd Lt. Owen Coffman, for whom our post is named. Owen Coffman was the son of local businessman Earl Coffman, who founded the Palm Springs post in 1934. Owen was a Stanford graduate and was killed on his second mission as a B-17 pilot.

Victor Lopez and Miguel Romero of the Post 519 Riders honor PLTSGT Earle Pinckard, KIA Saipan. Earle fought at Guadalcanal, was wounded at Tarawa and killed at Saipan. His father, Ryland Pinckard was the contractor who built our post in 1948 as a tribute to his son.

Post 519 Auxiliary members Melissa Flores, Lisa Schindler and Kim Gomez honor Sgt Allen Hall Jr., KIA USS Colorado during a kamikaze attack in the Leyte Gulf. Sgt. Hall was previously wounded at Tarawa. His brother Bill served on a minesweeper at Normandy.

A docent from the Palm Springs Air Museum honors SSGT Pete Nila, KIA in Italy. Nila was a belly gunner on a B-24. His sister, Jennie was married to Tomas Villa, who was killed during the liberation of Corregidor. That means Jennie Villa lost both her brother and her husband during the war.

Lee Wilson Jr. is the historian for Palm Springs Post 519 and founder of the Palm Springs Fallen Heroes project. In addition to serving in the Marines (81-93 active and reserves), Wilson also served in the Peace Corps from 93-95 teaching English in Wroclaw, Poland. Wilson honors PFC Stephen Levi, KIA Saipan. Stephen was killed on the last day of battle when the Japanese launched one last suicidal "Banzai" charge against the Americans.

The Post 519 color guard honored the only fallen hero from the Korean War, Sgt Russel Torres. Torres fought in the Philippines in World War II and was part of the occupation forces of South Korea. He was on his way home when North Korea invaded the South, turned around and killed in action.

Palm Springs Sons of the American Legion 519 honored PFC Adam Najar, KIA Vietnam.

Post 519 Color Guard member Noel Arvizu also serves in our local DAV 66 Chapter. They honored Leveret Prosky, a door gunner on a "Huey" helicopter who was killed in Vietnam.
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