County of Marin - News Releases - Vintage Planes for Veterans Day

For Immediate Release
November 07, 2014

Vintage Planes to Highlight Veterans Day Event

3 World War II fighter planes in flyover at November 11 ceremony

San Rafael, CA – Visitors to Marin County’s big Veterans Day ceremony in San Rafael will receive a special visual treat up in the sky.

Following the indoor presentation at the Marin Veterans Memorial Auditorium that starts at 10 a.m. November 11, hundreds of people will move to the outdoor wreath-laying ceremony a few steps away near the memorial statues on Avenue of the Flags. Overhead, three World War II-era fighter planes are scheduled to buzz the crowd.

What’s being called the Mario Ghilotti Memorial Flight, in honor of one of Marin’s most staunch supporters of local military veterans, will feature a trio of majestic P-51 Mustangs. The planes are fully restored originals.

Mario Ghilotti and his wife, Eva, now both deceased, supported countless veterans-related causes in Marin. A Navy veteran, Mario Ghilotti led Ghilotti Bros. Construction for more than 30 years prior to his death in 2010. Ghilotti family friend Leon DeLisle, who arranged for the flyover, said he hopes the special memorial flight will become an annual feature.

“More needs to be done to create the awareness of our veterans coming home today,” DeLisle said. “People need to salute them and help support them as they come home and adjust to civilian life. Mario talked about how supportive everyone was to the World War II guys coming home. We need that spirit again to flourish all over America.”

Marin County’s Veterans Services Officer, Sean Stephens, will serve as keynote speaker for indoor portion of Marin’s annual Veterans Day ceremony. Stephens, a Greenbrae resident, entered U.S. Army basic training at age 36 when his life was at a crossroads (today the maximum basic training age is 35). He completed four tours in Afghanistan – one with the 29th Infantry Battalion out of Arizona, one with the 101st Airborne Division, and the final two with the 25th Infantry Division unit out of Alaska. 

Since he returned from his last deployment in March 2010, he has worked for the County of Marin assisting other veterans. Now 47 years old, Stephens serves as the County Veterans Services Officer and is a member of the San Francisco Veterans Administration Medical Center Veteran and Family Advisory Council. He is an expert in helping vets obtain federal benefits, readjust to society after tours of duty, cope with post-traumatic stress, understand health care options and learn about job placement choices.

The annual Veterans Day event, presented by the Marin County United Veterans Council and sponsored by the County of Marin, honors all Americans who served in the line of duty with our military forces, with a special emphasis on Marin’s own heroes. Event officials are actively seeking veterans from recent overseas conflicts in the Middle East to take part in the ceremony and become active in veterans affairs in Marin.

The ceremony will feature the voice of renowned Marin County entertainer Susan Zelinsky and patriotic marches played by the Las Gallinas Valley Sanitary District Non-Marching Band, aka the Sewer Band. Cadets from the House of Steel gym in San Rafael, led by Lt. Gregory Allen (USMC, Ret.), will participate as a color guard and drill team and receive assistance from Novato-based U.S. Air Force Junior ROTC cadets.

After the indoor ceremony, the program continues outdoors in front of the memorial statues on the Avenue of the Flags. A moment of silence will be observed at 11:11 a.m. to correspond with the 96th anniversary of the World War I armistice agreement. Wreaths will be laid at the foot of the statues to honor fallen comrades. Doughnuts and coffee, courtesy of American Legion Auxiliary Post 179, will be served in the Redwood Foyer of the Marin Veterans Memorial Auditorium after the outdoor event.

The ceremony begins with music at 9:30 a.m., and the ceremony begins at 10. For more information, contact Ray Mullin of the Marin United Veterans Council at


Sean Stephens
Veterans Services Officer
Health and Human Services

10 N. San Pedro Rd.
Suite 1010
San Rafael, CA 94903
(415) 473-6193
Email: Sean Stephens
Veterans Services website