SAN DIEGO --
Family, friends and baseball fans gathered to honor former Marine and San Diego Padres announcer, Gerald Coleman, during a memorial service at Petco Park, Jan. 18.
The former Marine Corps pilot was an announcer for 41 seasons and a Major League Baseball player who played in six World Series with the New York Yankees between 1949 and 1957.
Marines from Camp Pendleton, Marine Corps Air Station Miramar and Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego participated in the event to render military honors to Coleman.
Coleman was remembered for his humble personality, love for his family, the game of baseball and patriotism.
“If you love baseball, if you love this country, then you love Jerry Coleman,” said Joe Torre, MLB executive and former professional baseball manager and player.
Coleman’s baseball career was interrupted twice as he was called to serve in World War II and the Korean War, where he flew a total of 120 missions, making him the only MLB player to have seen combat in two wars.
Coleman’s Marine Corps career is described as remarkable among Marine leaders.
“We cannot begin to express our appreciation and pleasure to have had such a valuable Marine among our ranks,” said Lt. Gen. John A. Toolan, commanding general of I Marine Expeditionary Force. “A leader among leaders, he was truly one of the few and the proud.”
Nearly 150 Marines in their most formal service uniform stood across the field. A 21 gun-salute, played TAPS to honor Coleman. The Marines attending the memorial had the fortune to hear stories of what a Marine is all about, Toolan said when referring to the anecdotes, and different speeches delivered by Coleman’s friends and work partners.
The 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing saluted Coleman with an F-18 fly-over, and a private organization provided a dive-bomber replica flyover at the end of the ceremony, the same aircraft Coleman flew during WWII.
The presence of the Marines Corps at the ceremony was conspicuous and recognized with gratitude.
“After today’s service, I believe everyone here will agree that the Marine Corps truly do take care of their own,” said Ron Fowler, executive chairman of the San Diego Padres.