General, I Salute You!
Support Foundation Chairman Schoville Bids Brig. Gen. Cardenas Farewell
(March 31, 2022) Beneath a sky heavy with dark clouds that mirrored the solemnity of the occasion, a committal service was held at Miramar National Cemetery for retired Air Force Brig. Gen. Robert L. Cardenas.
Some 275 family members, friends, and veterans were on hand to pay their respects to a man whose 34-year career is unmatched in the nation’s military annals. Bomber pilot in World War II, renowned test pilot, commander of the group that broke the sound barrier, jet fighter pilot in Vietnam, leader of Air Force special forces, and numerous other accomplishments in service of his country.
“He is truly someone who all of us in the military understand left a great legacy to our patriotism, to our country’s salvation in World War II,” said Support Foundation Chairman Dennis Schoville, during his eulogy of Cardenas. “In World War II, we fought as one. We stood together, we clenched our fists, and that generation saved our freedom.”
Cardenas’ most lasting legacy, Schoville said, is Miramar National Cemetery. The General was instrumental in persuading the Veterans Administration to develop a second veterans’ cemetery in San Diego, despite the close proximity of both Fort Rosecrans and Riverside National Cemeteries. Since it opened in January 2010, Miramar has conducted more than 25,000 interments, burials that otherwise would have been at Riverside or other national cemeteries, since Fort Rosecrans is officially closed.
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‘Hero of Heroes’
Noting that Cardenas could have been buried at Arlington National Cemetery, Schoville said, “In committing Veteran Robert Cardenas to these hallowed grounds, today, every veteran committed here, both in the past and in the future, is further honored by his desire to rest here at Miramar National Cemetery.”
The committal service included an Air Force Color Guard that folded the flag covering Cardenas’ casket, and encased for a final time his personal brigadier general’s flag. An Air Force rifle squad fired volleys in his honor, fighter jets from Marine Corps Air Station, Miramar, conducted flyovers, and a B-2 bomber flying from Edwards Air Force Base, passed overhead in an aerial salute to the famous General.
“He was a legend in his time,” said Schoville, “a rare exceptional patriot. Always humble, humble beyond belief for a man of that stature, and that legendary reputation. He made his ‘best landing ever” when he departed this life on his 102nd birthday, March 10, 2022. And I can tell you this: heaven’s angels are about to get some real flight lessons up there!
“May God bless him, bless his wife, Gladys, and the entire Cardenas family. And, General…I salute you!”
By Bill Heard