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Marine Helicopter Makes Sentimental Flyover at Manhattan Beach Pier

Mar 30, 2021 08:49PM ● By Jeanne Fratello

Photo via Jefferson Graham

A large Marine helicopter did a broad loop over Manhattan Beach Pier on Tuesday, marking a sentimental journey for Marine Corps Sgt. James Franklin and his family members in Manhattan Beach.

Sgt. Franklin, the son of Manhattan Beach City Councilmember Joe Franklin, has been stationed at MCAS (Marine Corps Air Station) Miramar in San Diego. However, he is about to be transferred to North Carolina. So for his last West Coast training mission, he and his crew did a flyover across the L.A. area, making a grand sweep over the Manhattan Beach Pier. 

Sgt. Franklin, sitting in the back of the helicopter, had a Manhattan Beach city flag that he was prepared to fly, but the strong winds prevented him from holding it outside of the chopper. Meanwhile, on the Manhattan Beach Pier, his parents waved back at him, with Councilmember Franklin holding a large red Marine Corps flag.

"This is the first time I've seen him flying in a helicopter, so it was very special," said his mother, Nancy Franklin. "I am just very proud."

Costa Graduate Excels in the Marines


The younger Franklin, a 2010 Mira Costa graduate, joined the Marine Corps after high school. His specialty is avionic electronics.

(Read a reflection that Joe Franklin wrote about his son as he left for boot camp here.)

The helicopter that Franklin and his crew flew on Tuesday was the CH-53E, a heavy-lift helicopter known as the "Super Stallion."

Franklin is headed to North Carolina to train on the new class of helicopters, the CH-53K, the "King Stallion." Then he will remain there to serve as an instructor.

Councilmember Franklin said that he was proud of his son, but seeing him leave was "bittersweet." Joe and Nancy Franklin are extremely close with their son, his wife, and their three children, ages 6, 4, and 18 months. Their daughter-in-law and grandchildren have often stayed with them during Sgt. Franklin's deployments.


Helicopter Carries Sentimental Meaning


Watching the flyover on the ground on Tuesday afternoon were photographers Jefferson Graham and Pete Halvorsen.

Halvorsen had a special interest in photographing and taking video of the helicopter. 

"The helicopter and the Marine Corps in general are near to my heart," said Halvorsen. "My father was a Marine in Vietnam and flew in the UH-34's. He is currently buried at Arlington National Cemetery. But I attended Squadron Reunions with him years ago down in Miramar where we got to tour the CH53's that Joe's son flies in now."

"I'd be lying if I said I had a dry eye as the helicopter flew over," continued Halvorsen. "My dad spent many years visiting me down here at the Pier and would love to stand at the end of the pier, but especially loved when the Coast Guard or any of the large helicopters were flying by. So this really felt like a hug from Dad for me, as well as enjoying the moment of watching Joe and his wife get to wave at their son on his way down the coast."

Photos and video courtesy of Jefferson Graham (top photo), Pete Halvorsen (photos and video in the gallery), and Sgt. James Franklin (photos and video in the gallery).


Marine Flyover of Manhattan Beach Pier, via Sgt. James Franklin

Pete Halvorsen video of Marine Helicopter Flyover at Manhattan Beach Pier

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