Left to right: Lucas Dargan, 4, Liz Dargan, and Tomas Dargan, 2, all of Oceanside, check out the Talon robot. Operation Appreciation was held May 18 to say thank you to military. Photo by Promise Yee
Left to right: Lucas Dargan, 4, Liz Dargan, and Tomas Dargan, 2, all of Oceanside, check out the Talon robot. Operation Appreciation was held May 18 to say thank you to military. Photo by Promise Yee
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Event thanks active military and their families

OCEANSIDE — An afternoon of food, music and carnival rides at Oceanside Pier thanked military and their families for their service on May 18. 

“It’s a day of celebration at the beach and an opportunity to meet military families,” David Nydegger, Chamber of Commerce CEO and Operation Appreciation founder, said.

The annual event has been held for 12 years. The city provides the use of beach facilities. Plate lunches, entertainment and carnival rides are sponsored by local business donations.

Nonmilitary were able to purchase refreshments and tickets for rides.

“There’s a jump house, face painting, a lot of fun things that are free to the military,” Nydegger said.

Operation Appreciation began following the 9/11 attack.

“We all felt the tragedy that happened back in New York and thought it would be good to recognize our local military and their families,” Nydegger said.

“It’s worked really well,” Nydegger added. “The community loves it, the city loves it, Marines have told me how appreciative they are.”

Fifty volunteers helped serve an estimated 4,000 military men, women and family members this year. Plate lunches were served cafeteria-style with a choice of tri-tip steak, chicken, hot dogs and fixings.

Nydegger said the same volunteers and business sponsors participate year after year.

Frank Zugaj, master gunnery sergeant Marine Corps, retired, said he has volunteered for 10 years.

“It’s a good thing,” he said.

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