Episode 67: Featuring Phil Kendro, Todd Kennedy and Derek Abbey

Phil Kendro - Mt. Soledad Memorial 

Phil Kendro, Retired United States Marine Corps veteran and trustee of Mt. Soledad Memorial sat down with Rise Up Radio host, James Carmody to talk about Mt. Soledad Memorial, the upcoming Memorial Day event at the Mt. Soledad and the special salute to national Gold Star families. Because May is Military Appreciation month, Kendro breaks down what the Mt. Soledad Memorial is all about and explains it is the only ‘living memorial in the United States. “Which means those honored don’t have to be deceased to have a plaque and be honored on the memorial wall”, he said. According to Kendro, it is a memorial for anyone who served in the military living or dead from the Revolutionary War through today’s war on terrorism. Each plague is etched with the face and story of each veteran who served in one of the five branches of the military including those who served in the Merchant Marines during WWII. Kendro, who was a flight instructor during his service in the Corps learned to fly when he was 17. He talks about what lead him to join the military, where he learned to fly and how he became a Trustee for Mt. Soledad. He also discusses flying for San Diego Sky Tours and some of the exciting programs offered to the public. He tells Carmody, “One of the coolest things we do, we’re pretty much the only open air biplane dog fights in the world. Which is pretty neat, the fact that we’re going to train you up, throw you in the front seat, we’re going to give you the controls and you’re going to fight each other in the skies. It’s a lot of fun.”


Derek Abbey & Todd Kennedy - Military Ally Program

Retired Marine Todd Kennedy, and Military and Veterans Program Administrator at San Diego State, along with fellow Marine veteran Derek Abbey, Veterans Coordinator for University of San Diego sat down with Rise Up Radio host James Carmody to talk about Military Ally. Military Ally is program Kennedy and Abbey run together. Kennedy who served 22 years in the Corps retired in August 2011, and was accepted in the San Diego state as a first time freshmen. “Basically I was the 40 year old freshman”, he said, “My very first class was a freshman writing class with these 18 and 19 year olds that are suddenly my peers, and I was four months out of Afghanistan, so it was a little bit of a culture shock.” The realization that there is a gap, whether is’ real or perceived, between the civilian side of the house and the military side, and it was that realization, according to Kennedy and Abbey that lead to creating Military Ally. Abbey, who served 23 years in the Corps, was contacted by the University of San Diego after retiring from the marines to come on board and work with military students. His collaborative effort with Kennedy is born out of their desire to help fellow military members. The men explain how they were going to use the same title as a sister program, Vet Net Ally, but realized they were, in a sense being exclusionary by focusing only on the veteran population, leaving out the active duty, reserve and dependent components. Military Ally covers all those components. “One of the things Todd and I do different than a lot of programs we don’t focus on the ‘broken’ message you so often hear in the community. We intentionally do this. We have looked at so many different programs out there and they are constantly talking about PTS or TBI…we touch on those a little bit, we say yes these are realities these are things we’re going to deal with, but a couple things, one they are not owned by the military, you can PTS from a variety of things. Also these are not the primary identifying factors of our military population.” Abbey said.



Take Action

1. Mt. Soledad National Veterans Memorial will be celebrating Memorial Day on Monday, May 29 from 2pm-3pm. It's an event you won't want to miss! You can find out more by visiting the Mt. Soledad National Veterans Memorial website by clicking here. 

2. The Military Ally Program brings awareness of and insight into the unique characteristics of the military and civilian societies, on and off- campus. You can learn more by visiting their Facebook page here.