Honoring Patriots Young and Old

War hero and patriot of the year Robert Mosier during Sunday’s brunch for parade honorees. Photos by Mitch Ridder
War hero and patriot of the year Robert Mosier during Sunday’s brunch for parade honorees. Photos by Mitch Ridder
By Donna Furey, Special to the Independent

Twenty five members of Robert and Beverly Mosier’s family, some from as far away as Washington D.C. and New York, attended the Patriot’s Day honorees brunch on Sunday to watch the former Army air corps pilot accept a plaque naming him as Laguna Beach’s patriot of the year.

Mosier described with pride that many of his 14 grandchildren and 14 great grandchildren will march alongside his car in the 48th annual Laguna Beach Patriots Day Parade, set for March 1.

Another pilot and Parade Association vice president Charlie Quilter, along with the association president Ed Hanke, introduced the nearly complete line-up of parade honorees before a packed house at Tivioli Terrace. Conspicuously absent was this year’s grand marshal, two-time Olympic champion and local resident Janet Evans.

Quilter extolled her many accomplishments, most notably handing the Olympic torch to Muhammad Ali in the opening ceremonies of the 1996 Olympic Games.

Mosier, 90, likes to point out that he’s retired twice: once from professional life and once from civic duties.

In the early ‘40s, WWII draftees were sent where they were most needed. But Mosier, determined to become a pilot, eschewed the local draft induction center for a two-day physical review in Los Angeles to obtain an eligibility letter for air force consideration. He succeeded and benefited from the service’s need for pilots, who typically underwent two years of training in the cockpit. Even so, while still a teenager Mosier received his pilot wings, going on to fly various aircraft and dropping paratroopers into combat, towing gliders and performing medical evacuations. In one standout mission, he flew into Santo Tomas, in the Philippines, where he and his squadron rescued prisoners of war, including women and children, and flew them to safety.

A pre-Superbowl crowd convenes this past Sunday to meet honorees in the upcoming Patriots Day Parade.
A pre-Superbowl crowd convenes this past Sunday to meet honorees in the upcoming Patriots Day Parade.

After discharge, Mosier attended UC Berkeley on the GI Bill and worked on a team that built the first digital computer, which today is housed in the Smithsonian Museum. He also married Beverly Christiansen and worked for Collin Radio, involved in the development of computer modems. When his employer opened a Newport Beach branch, the couple settled in Laguna Beach. After retiring, Mosier became an active volunteer. The couple celebrate their 68th wedding anniversary this year.

First recognized was Thurston Middle school student Charlie Hoffs, who read her essay inspired by the parade theme, “Home of the Free Because of the Brave.” High school freshman Camden Benson was winner of the parade program cover art contest.

The junior citizens of the year were Perry Neilson and Garrett Burk. Nielson is a cross county runner, club founder, volunteer mentor and carries a 4.4 grade average. Burk is also an outstanding student and club founder and recently received the Major League Baseball Commissioner’s Play Healthy Award.  He is also a leader in the Laguna Prescription Drug Awareness Group.

In a relatively new parade honoree category, Carol Reynolds was honored as the artist of the year.

A Juilliard trained French horn player, Reynolds co-founded the Laguna Community Band, chaired the Arts Commission and continues to serve on no fewer than five boards and guilds. She joked that in her estimation the closest she’d come to being a patriot was hosting the Friday night dances at the Coast Guard base.

Two icons in the surfing world were introduced as athletes of the year while their beaming twin sons looked on from the audience. Alisa Schwarzstein won the World Amateur Surfing championship in 1980, was a member of the U.S. National Surfing team coached by Australian Ian Cairns, and went on to spend 10 years with the Association of Surfing Professionals World Tour. He holds six major world titles and six Australian surfing titles. In 2012, Alisa Swarzstein Cairns was inducted as woman of the year on the Surfing Walk of Fame in Huntington Beach where her husband had been honored two years previously. She now coaches the LBHS surfing team and still competes in the Brooks Street Classic. Ian Cairns coaches surfing and designs products for two board manufacturers.

The citizen of the year went to Wayne Baglin, a former mayor and member of Laguna Beach’s City Council and a Board of Realtors member. During a term on the state Water Quality Control Board, the city of San Diego proclaimed April 2, 2002, Wayne Baglin Day for his commitment to clean ocean waters. Baglin currently is on the board of the Festival of Arts and Laguna Beach Alliance for the Arts.

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