An embodiment of service

Justin Garcia, U.S. Army service member, plays the military bugle call, Taps, during a ceremony commemorating the U.S. Navy and the Lone Sailor memorial on Oct. 13 at Bluff Park.

The cold, gloomy weather of the Pacific Ocean doesn’t bother him. He is unfazed by the light, sea-spray drizzle that falls upon him. His hands are buried deep in the pockets of his peacoat that some sailors have called a blanket that could keep them warm in the icy waters of the northern seas. His eyes are fixated on the horizon of the Long Beach coast– now dotted with container ships from every part of the globe– as he waits for his United States Navy ship to arrive so he can board and tend to its deck.
This individual does not have a name– nor is he really just one person. Instead, he stands as an embodiment of all U.S. Navy service members that have left to fight since the unit’s induction in the 1700s. There’s one caveat, as well– he is a bronze statue.
Since 2004, the 7-foot-tall Lone Sailor Memorial statue has stood watch, with his Navy-issued seabag plopped on the ground next to him, 24 hours a day, seven days a week at Bluff Park.
On the morning of Oct. 13, Partners of Parks and the Long Beach Veterans Commission co-hosted a public-recognition ceremony at Bluff Park to commemorate the 14th anniversary of the dedication of the Lone Sailor memorial and the 243rd anniversary of the U.S. Navy.
Braden Phillips, Ret. U.S. Navy captain, gave remarks about the statue and the history it carries with it.
“It is a generic sailor for all seasons, if you will,” Phillips told the Signal Tribune before the event.
Since its induction on Oct. 13, 1775, the U.S. Navy has teamed up with the U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Army and U.S. Air Force to fight the nation’s wars, according to Phillips.
Long Beach’s Lone Sailor memorial does not stand alone. There are 15 other commemorative Lone Sailor memorials throughout the world; however, the bronze seaman standing at Bluff Park is the only one that looks toward the Pacific Ocean.
In 2002, a woman named Elizabeth Peterson saw the original Lone Sailor memorial in Washington D.C., Phillips told the Signal Tribune before the event. She told the Long Beach City Council that the city should have its own memorial.
Phillips said that Long Beach has always been a “Navy” city. Long Beach once housed the Pacific Fleet during World War II before it was moved to Honolulu, Hawaii, where it came under attack by Japanese forces at Pearl Harbor.
He also said that it is was sailors, like the ones represented by the Lone Sailor statue, that fended off the attacking force and kept the crippled fleet intact enough to fight throughout the rest of the war.
Once Peterson convinced the city council of the project, Partners of Parks acted as the nonprofit organization that helped raise money for the memorial.
A year and a half later, a committee of veterans contracted with Stanley Bleifeld, the Lone Sailor’s original sculptor.
“It took some coordination,” Phillips said. “But it was people who participated in a labor of love.”
Many have gone to fight overseas, and many died while at war. Surrounding the Lone Sailor are 500 commemorative bricks– each one engraved with the names of some of those U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps, Coast Guard and Merchant Marines service members who have died and others who are still in service.
Trinka Rowsell, Partners of Parks executive director, told the Signal Tribune that 420 additional bricks have recently been placed at the memorial to commemorate more service members. For more information on the commemorative bricks, residents can call (562) 570-3209 or visit

Sebastian Echeverry | Signal Tribune
Long Beach resident Marlene Temple addresses the crowd during a ceremony commemorating the U.S. Navy and the Lone Sailor memorial on Oct. 13 at Bluff Park. Her late husband, Don Temple, served in the Korean War. His name is engraved on one of the 500 commemorative bricks in the memorial that honor U.S. Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard and Merchant Marines service members.
During the event, Long Beach resident Marlene Temple said that her late husband– Don Temple, who served in the Korean War– had been commemorated by many people for his service throughout his life, but that his brick located at the feet of the Lone Sailor memorial would have been his highest honor.


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