2017 Veterans Wall Honorees
Robert Bettinger, USA
Robert Bettinger enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1946 just before the end of World War II. After basic training at Fort Knox, Kentucky, Robert was assigned to the 1st Calvary Division, Artillery, and stationed in Kamakura, Japan. As dependent families moved to Japan, Robert was assigned to teach children in the third and fourth grades. He attained the rank of Technician Fifth Grade and received the following awards: World War II Victory Medal; Army of Occupation Medal, Japan; and the honorable service lapel button.After his discharge in 1948, Robert pursued his plans to become an Episcopal priest. While fulfilling his duties as a priest, husband and father of four children, Robert was also an activist for human rights, including emerging women’s rights (NOW), civil rights (MLK) and the emerging LGBT right movement. By the time Robert moved to San Diego in 1998, he was no stranger to the LGBT community, having lived in the San Francisco Bay area for 20 years, where he obtained his doctorate degree, experienced Harvey Milk’s assassination and lived through the AIDS crisis. Once in San Diego, Robert became actively involved in the LGBT community, volunteering his time and holding various leadership positions in the following organizations; the gay and lesbian Sierra Club; Rakes and Blades — an LGBT gardening club; San Diego County’s Aging and Independence Services program, focusing on LGBT services; the Senior Affairs Advisory Board; the Senior Housing Committee; and various groups at the San Diego LGBT Community Center; among many other involvements. Robert is also known in the community for his support of people as they go through life transitions. At 89 years young, Robert is still making a difference by working with geriatric nurses to meet a goal of excellence in senior care.
Justin Brent, USA
Enlisted in the US Army July 29, 1963 and received Basic Training at Fort Knox, Ky. Worked as a General’s Orderly for four star General Andrew P Omeara in Heidelberg, Germany. Achieved rank of Specialist Fourth Class. Received an Honorable Discharge July 31, 1966. Participated in the first Gay Pride March in San Diego starting my gay rights activism. Involved in the No on 6 Brigg’s Initiative Campaign. Created The Gay Academic Union San Diego Chapter, (Frontrunners became an offshoot of GAU) created Network to help facilitate communication between LGBTQ organizations, ran the Gay Center’s Speaker’s Bureau, on the board of the United San Diego Election Committee (USDEC), on the board of the San Diego Democratic Club with Brad Truax.
Wayne Dietz, USN
For Wayne Dietz Jr., joining the Navy in October 1975 was his ticket to freedom; a ticket out of the steel mills of Johnstown, Pennsylvania, and a ticket to his sexual identity. He attended boot camp and Hospital Corpsman “A” School at Great Lakes, Illinois. When Wayne received his first set of orders to 3rd Field Service Support Group, which included a 13-month tour in Okinawa, Japan, he wanted to cry. He first underwent Field Medical Service training at Camp Pendleton in June 1976 and then it was off to Japan. Despite his initial fears, Wayne blossomed in Okinawa. He was awarded Sailor of the Quarter and subsequently nominated for Sailor of the Year. He rotated back to Camp Pendleton until May 1978, when it was time to report to Portsmouth, Virginia for urology school. In February 1979, he again headed back to Camp Pendleton, this time as leading petty officer of the Naval Hospital’s urology clinic. He was again awarded Sailor of the Quarter and soon earned the rank of first class petty officer in 1981, six years after enlisting. Wayne’s last tour, a four-year stint as a senior instructor at Naval School Health Sciences San Diego’s urology school, was the most rewarding. Since leaving active duty in 1986, Wayne has continued his career in urology. He was also able to get even more involved in the local LGBT community. He is a founding member of Bears San Diego; he spent many years with the San Diego leather community; he was also involved for many years in the Imperial Court de San Diego, holding titles Empress 25 Roxie Bleu and Emperor 30 Wayne; and as a longtime board member, he mentored many other titleholders. He was also an active member of the local Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. Through each of these organizations, Wayne has raised money for the local San Diego LGBT community for over 30 years.
Roger Greenseth, USA
Originally from Superior, Wisconsin, Roger Greenseth signed up for the draft at age 16, and right after high school, he was called to duty with the U.S. Army in September 1957. Enlisting as an infantryman, he attended basic training at Fort Carson, Colorado, then transferred to Combat Engineering School at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, for more training. Reassigned to Fort Carson, he was tasked with maintaining officer personnel records. Roger’s Commanding Officer wanted him to apply to West Point for a direct commission, but he declined. After leaving the military in 1959, Roger entered the University of Wisconsin. It wasn’t long after the first term that he and a friend were turned in for being gay, arrested and kicked out of school. Shortly after that, Roger knew he needed to move to San Francisco. It was there that he designed, developed, tested and implemented a computer program for numerous government healthcare systems. One day while commuting to work, Roger met his partner Donald on the San Francisco trolley. Donald said to a friend (about Roger), “That will last me the rest of my life.” They met again later in the workplace, and it was love at first sight. Roger and Donald moved to San Diego in 1985, spending 43 years together before Donald lost his battle with cancer in 2005. Roger was very active in the LGBT civil rights movement from 1960-1985. Soon after arriving in San Diego, Roger quickly became a pillar in the local LGBT recovery community and has counseled and mentored hundreds of people on life skills, mental illness, recovery, and addiction. He volunteered with San Diego Pride from 1990-98, holding various positions. From 1990-2014, he served on the board of the Live and Let Live Alano Club (LLLAC). Still an active member of LLLAC, Roger continues to lead weekly discussion groups on recovery.
Nic Herrera, USA
Born and raised in San Diego, Nichole “Nic” Herrera enlisted in the California Army National Guard in 2006, despite knowing that “don’t ask, don’t tell” was in effect and she would have to serve in silence; not only for being gay but also for being transgender. In October 2007, Nic’s military police unit was activated for FireStorm 2007 in San Diego County, responsible for conducting checkpoints, roving patrols and canvasing burned-out areas for looters. In May 2009, Nic’s unit deployed to Bagram, Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, operating the detention facility in charge of the care, custody, and control of males detained under suspicion of terrorist activity. In August 2010, Nic returned stateside to the U.S./Mexico border for 18 months under Joint Task Force Sierra, assisting Customs and Border agencies scanning for illegal activity and undocumented immigrants crossing the border. Back in San Diego in July 2011, Nic participated in the first-ever active duty LGBT military contingent to march in a Pride Parade, while “don’t ask, don’t tell” was still in place. Nic shared her story through interviews with various media outlets. In 2013, she participated in the StoryCorps OutLoud series, discussing her service under “don’t ask, don’t tell,” now on record at the Library of Congress. Nic left the Guard in 2014 as a Specialist (SPC/E4). In 2016, Nic and her fiancé have joined the American Military Partner Association and are active in several other charitable and social/civil rights organizations in support of LGBT+, veterans, and animals. Nic has a bachelor’s degree in justice administration and a master’s in public administration. She is currently a civilian federal employee with the Navy and hopes to continue this work, despite the Trump Administration recently argued in court that laws regarding discrimination in the workplace do not apply to LGBT people in federal jobs.
Zander Keig, USCG
Zander Keig is a proud veteran of the U.S. Coast Guard, serving from October 1986 to November 1988, attaining the rank of fireman. He was stationed at Small Boat Station San Diego, serving as a firefighter and Emergency Medical Technician. Now a licensed clinical social worker, Zander currently works as a clinical case manager on the transgender care team with Navy Medicine West. He recently received the designation as a certified advanced social work case manager from the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) and has been recognized as a transgender subject matter expert by the NASW, the Veterans Administration, and Navy Medicine West. This year he also joined the clinical team at Coaching Through Chaos and was appointed chair of the NASW’s National Committee for LGBT Issues. He’s a member of the LGBTQ stakeholder workgroup of the California Health & Human Services Network, and a board member for the nonprofit Transgender American Veterans Association. Since 1987, Zander has conducted over 400 public presentations on issues related to diversity, nonviolence, cultural humility, trauma-informed care, and conflict resolution. He is co-editor of three books: “Letters for My Brothers — Transitional Wisdom in Retrospect,” published in 2011; “Manning Up — Transsexual Men on Finding Brotherhood, Family & Themselves,” published in 2014; and “Manifest — Transitional Wisdom on Male Privilege,” published in 2016. He is also co-author of various articles, including “Transgender Veterans Are Inadequately Understood by Health Care Providers,” published in the May 2014 issue of Military Medicine Journal; and “Addressing the needs of transgender military veterans: better access and more comprehensive care,” which appeared earlier this year in the Transgender Health journal. Zander has also appeared in several documentary films, including the award-winning feature-length film, “TRANS.” A community-builder and leader who is committed to social justice for LGBT people, Zander is resolutely focused on making sure we can all be our best selves.
Robert John Leyh, USN
Robert J. Leyh, a native of Rochester, New York, entered the U.S. Navy in May of 1993. Bob’s tours of duty included Yeoman “A” School in Meridian, Mississippi; U.S. Naval Station Roosevelt Roads, Puerto Rico; the submarine tender USS Simon Lake (AS 33), home-ported in La Maddalena, Italy; and Helicopter Tactical Wing, Pacific Fleet, at Naval Air Station North Island in San Diego. Bob served 6 ½ years in the Navy and was honorably discharged in December 1999, having attained the rank of Petty Officer Second Class (E-6). Upon his separation from the Navy, Bob became active in the San Diego’s LGBT community. His involvement has included Front Runners and Walkers, an LGBT running club; Special Delivery, a meal delivery service for people debilitated by AIDS; San Diego LGBT Pride; Scouting for All; and AIDS Walk San Diego. He is also the former vice president of San Diego Democrats for Equality. Bob has a bachelor’s degree in history and a master’s in public administration from National University. Bob and his partner Bill McClain, a school teacher in the San Diego Unified School District, celebrated 24 years together on Oct. 1, 2017.
Judith Ann Litzenberger, USN
Judith “Jude” Litzenberger joined the Navy during the Vietnam era in April 1975 and continued to serve through the Persian Gulf War, rising in rank from non-rated seaman to Lieutenant Commander, and holding dual subspecialties in tactical communications and training school management.
Jude’s career was full of “firsts.” She was the first woman to serve on the deployable amphibious staff of Naval Beach Group Two at Little Creek, Virginia; the first enlisted Navy drug and alcohol counselor to earn a master’s degree (psychology); the first woman selected for Tactical Action Officer training; the first Navy officer to complete her master’s degree in Education and Training Management Systems; the first woman not assigned afloat to complete Surface Warfare Officer qualifications; the first woman to qualify as Fleet Telecommunications Operating Center Watch Officer; the first woman to serve on the Third Fleet Battle Staff during a fleet-wide exercise; and the first woman to command a Navy firefighting school. In 1995, Jude retired from the Navy and entered law school at USD, graduating in 1998. After several years of building her skills, she started her own practice in 2001, serving active duty service members in both military and criminal courts. In 2007, she collaborated with a grassroots veterans group concerned that many were returning from war without an adequate safety net, and led the team in the creation of the first San Diego Veterans Treatment Court. In 2011, she founded the nonprofit California Veterans Legal Task Force, which continues to expand veterans treatment courts throughout California. She worked to enact laws for veterans who suffered from service-related mental health conditions, obtaining them court-monitored treatment instead of incarceration, and upon successful completion, having their cases dismissed and records cleared.
Jude raised thousands of dollars for the San Diego LGBT Community Center during the battle for marriage equality. She’s been involved with Metropolitan Community Church since 1991 and is currently a denominational official and network leader of the western U.S., which serves 38 MCC churches from Mississippi to Hawaii.
John Lockhart, USN
John Lockhart entered the Navy in Los Angeles on January 22, 1951, and attended boot camp in San Diego. He was assigned to Naval Base Guam, where he earned his Personnelman rating. He then served on a Pearl Harbor-based destroyer escort, and aboard the aircraft carrier USS Point Cruz. In 1953, the Point Cruz was responsible for transferring United Nations troops by helicopter from the ship’s anchorage in Inchon Bay to the demilitarized zone between the two Koreas. He left the Navy in December 1954 as a PNSN (E-3). Post-Navy, John graduated from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. in 1959 with a B.S. in Foreign Service, aiming for a diplomatic career that was not meant to be. With the McCarthy era witch hunts to find and fire every homosexual in U.S. government employ, John pivoted and built a career in legislative advocacy for public education. In 1977, John returned to San Diego as a legislative advocate for the San Diego County Office of Education. He retired in 1996. An athlete of sorts, John completed 33 marathons at age 50-plus; earned gold and silver medals running in the quadrennial Gay Games; and has enjoyed skiing worldwide. At home in Hillcrest, John supports LGBT community organizations financially, participates and volunteers, and has fun doing it. He runs the monthly “team trivia” during The Center’s monthly Guys, Games and Grub night, has been a longtime volunteer with San Diego Pride and supports Diversionary Theatre. John dedicates this LGBT Wall of Honor award to the memory of his high school boyfriend, Don, killed by enemy fire during his Army unit’s withdrawal from the Chosin Reservoir, North Korea, December 1950.
Craig Alan Morgan, USN
Upon graduation from high school in 1966, Craig Morgan enlisted in the Navy. He attended boot camp at Recruit Training Center, San Diego, and then moved across the base for Basic Electronics and Engineering School and Radioman “A” School. Craig was then assigned to the USS Constellation (CVA-64), an aircraft carrier home-ported in San Diego. He did two WestPac tours to the Gulf of Tonkin; from April to December 1967, and June 1968 to February 1969. During the second tour, he had the honor of meeting the Commander in Chief, President Lyndon Johnson. Craig was reassigned to Camp Pendleton in 1969 for survival training, in preparation for his next duty station in Cam Rahn Bay, Vietnam, where he achieved the rank of Radioman third class and served out the remainder of his enlistment. He received the National Defense Service Medal, the Vietnam Service Medal, the Vietnam Campaign Medal (twice) and the Navy Unit Commendation Ribbon three times. The Navy enabled him to take leave in Hawaii, the Philippines, Japan, and Hong Kong, which instilled in him a love of travel. Following his discharge in 1970, Craig settled in San Diego, becoming active in the emerging LGBT community. He’s been involved with the Imperial Court de San Diego since its inception 45 years ago. He was elected Empress 5 Morgana in 1976 and Emperor 11 Craig in 1982. He also served on its board of directors as special advisor to numerous monarchs and has mentored various titleholders. Craig taught himself how to be an auctioneer, which allowed him to lead numerous auctions throughout the 1980s, ’90s, and 2000s, raising money and launching many LGBT community organizations that still serve us today. Craig and his late husband, Jon VanSciver, were the second couple to be married in San Diego County in 2008.