2023 Veterans Wall Honorees
Dan Baggett (He/Him), USN
Dan Baggett graduated near the top of his 1982 high school class in Garden Grove, California and received a prestigious appointment to the United States Naval Academy. After four years at Annapolis, Dan began a 20-year career in the Active-Duty United States Navy from 1986 – 2006 as a United States Navy Surface Officer. Serving in sea and shore billets stateside and overseas, he earned the respect of shipmates and senior officers alike. He retired as a Lieutenant Commander in 2006, with Navy tours as Executive Officer (second in command) of USS Shreveport (LPD 12), and Operations Officer for the USS Theodore Roosevelt Battle Group staff. Upon his retirement, Dan moved to San Diego and began work as a contractor, supporting the United States Navy. He is happy to continue providing support to the Navy that helps defend the country he loves. Dan has been active with the San Diego Gay Men’s chorus since 2010, performing with the chorus in San Diego, and most recently, taking part in “Stronger Together,” with the Gay Men’s Choruses from Mexico City and Tijuana. Dan provided support to the Recovery community in San Diego, acting as Secretary for several terms. Dan gave 10 years of loving live-in support to his dear friend, Krystofer Reich, who passed away from diabetes in 2022.
Moses G. Beeman II (He/Him), USMC
Originally from the small Midwestern town of Alexandria, Indiana, Moses took his first Oath in 1980, starting his career as an enlisted basic recruit at MCRD San Diego. He worked his way up the ranks and throughout the Marine Corps as a Combat Motion Picture Photographer. Master Sergeant Moses G. Beeman II, USMC (Retired) served as a career Marine in different capacities throughout his 25 years of service to the United States. Receiving numerous awards and honors during his career, his service was distinguished by receiving the Meritorious Medal upon his retirement in 2005. Throughout his career, he was investigated twice for being a homosexual. The first time was during pre-Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT), after a simple accusation of being “queer.” The second time, his command violated his rights under the law of DADT and investigated without cause. His service to the community was often stifled or suppressed by DADT limiting his participation in activism, forcing him to remain silent publicly on many LGBTQ issues. Behind the scenes and without jeopardizing his career by outing himself, he volunteered at Diversionary Playhouse, marched in several protest parades, and participated in political rallies. He also attended Metropolitan Community Church and was part of the Front Runners organization. Since retiring, he has authored “Semper Silence,” a fictional novel and screenplay inspired by actual events during the harsh years of DADT. He continues to advocate for LGBTQ issues and is a firm believer in freedom of speech and the press. His motto is, “Control the narrative, memories are short, history is long, write it down.”
Dr. Roger C Cornell (He/Him), USAF
Dr. Cornell served in the Air Force and was stationed at Thule, Greenland from 1964-1965 and Ramstein Air Force Base in Germany from 1966-1968. After his tour in the Air Force, Dr. Cornell volunteered to serve on the ground as a doctor during the Vietnam War. Since 1980, he has worked at Scripps Health. During the start and through the height of the AIDS epidemic, he served the LGBT and broader San Diego community performing biopsies and treating Kaposi’s Sarcoma through the Owen Clinic for six years at a time when nearly no dermatologist would treat KS patients. He also provided counseling for AIDS victims. Dr. Cornell has been a longtime supporter of The San Diego LGBT Community Center. In addition to serving numerous LGBT organizations, Dr. Cornell served on the boards of the Alliance Healthcare Foundation, the San Diego Commission of Arts, the San Diego Foundation, and the Mingei International Museum. Dr. Roger Cornell is an extraordinary philanthropist and man.
Jimm Crouch (He/Him), USN
Jimm Crouch is originally from Newberry, South Carolina. He served in the United States Navy on board the USS Davis DD 937, striking for Hospital Corpsman. He was transferred to San Diego in December 1982 to attend Hospital Corpsman training school at the Naval Medical Center, Balboa Hospital. He graduated from medical training and was transferred to the administrative side, working in the billeting office. He was kicked out of the Navy in 1983 for being gay, ending his hopes of a military career. In the 1980s, Jimm owned and ran a weekend eatery at the bar “The Hole” with his partner, and they enjoyed serving the community everything from burgers to steak, champagne, and beyond. He also attended 12-step programs at the Gay ALANO club in 1996, becoming a Board Member in 1998. He has attended Metropolitan Community Church since the mid-1980s and continues to serve our community through his work there.
Michael A. Dwyer (he/him), USA
Michael was enlisted during the Vietnam War in 1967 and served in the Army’s Signal Crops as a Communications Specialist operating long-haul radio communication systems in both the Republic of China (Taiwan) and the Philippines during the height of the Vietnam War. By the time he left the Army in 1970, he attained the rank of Specialist Five, a coveted rank at the time. Returning to the United States after the Army, Michael immediately completed his studies at San Diego State University and began volunteering for the LGBTQ community. Michael’s work career started at the Naval Electronics Laboratory Center (later SPAWAR-Pacific) where he served as an engineer in the Naval Federal Civil Service. He has been a longtime faithful member of the Metropolitan Community Church (MCC), where he was the office assistant and published a monthly newsletter, The Prodigal. Michael lent his management skills to Auntie Helen’s Fluff and Fold Laundry Service where he managed Federal grants from the federal Ryan White Fund in order to provide free laundry to AIDS patients during the darkest years of the AIDS crisis. The spirit of service drives Michael to volunteer outside the LGBTQ community. He is an example to all in the broader community of San Diego, specifically the Clairemont neighborhood where Michael has participated in the Clairemont Town Council since 2015 and is a regular contributor to the community newsletter. He is also a regular attendee at the Clairemont Planning Group meetings. Michael continues to volunteer as a teaching assistant providing a health and nutrition lecture to Seniors for the College of Continuing Education, a part of the San Diego Community College District. In both the Army and in civilian life, Michael A. Dwyer personifies the Army values of Loyalty, Duty, and Selfless Service.
Melissa Johnson (she/her), USAF
Melissa served in the Air Force and was discharged because of her sexual orientation in the 80s, when LGBT individuals were unjustly and summarily discharged from the military. Although demoralized, Melissa put the tragedy of her military service behind her and moved to San Diego more than three decades ago, earning her degree from UC San Diego, and then a law degree. Melissa’s military background inspired a focus on workers’ rights and the absence of protective laws during her military service ignited her passion to advocate for others facing similar struggles. Melissa is a partner at Johnson|Heeder LLP, a law firm focusing on workers’ rights. With firsthand experience, Melissa empathizes with workers facing discrimination and a large part of her practice includes representing federal workers, including veterans. She is involved in several community organizations, currently serving as President of the San Diego County Bar Association, on the Executive Board of the California Employment Lawyers Association, and the Executive Council of the National Conference of Bar Presidents. She is the first openly LGBT person appointed to the County of San Diego’s Civil Service Commission and serves as its President. Melissa was recently named a Super Lawyer in Employment Law. Melissa’s journey underscores her resilience, having navigated a path from military service to a successful employment law practice. Her transition from adversity to triumph is a testament to her strength and determination and her story highlights how one can harness past struggles to fuel a journey towards success and valuable contributions to society.
Carl Francis Moccafiche (He/Him), USA
Private First Class Carl F. Moccafiche, was born in Stockton, California and drafted into the US Army in 1959. He proudly served two years at Fort Ord in Monterey, CA, and eventually in Ankara, Turkey, as head of the Engineering Offices. Following his service, Carl relocated to San Francisco where he worked in the Cargo and Customer Service Departments at Canadian Airlines for 30 years. His passion for working with veterans led to his volunteer work with the Red Cross at Letterman Hospital in Presidio of San Francisco for several years. His active role and commitment to community, pursuit of personal growth, and inclination towards the spirit of inclusion increased his volunteerism when he retired from the airline and relocated to San Diego in 1998. He volunteered with the Gay Olympics in 1982 and became actively immersed in various community-based groups in San Diego, including the Ordinary Miracles. Carl volunteered for numerous years at Scripps Mercy Hospital in the ICU, as a member of the Stonewall Citizens Patrol, San Diego Gay Rodeo, and as The Gay Softball League’s photographer. One of his proudest moments was being named Crowned Prince of The Imperial Court de San Diego in 2014 for his contributions. Remaining active today, Carl continues to volunteer with the San Diego Opera as a supernumerary and a member in the Operations Department with the San Diego Gay Men’s Chorus since 2018. Carl is the embodiment of his favorite motto: “You make a living by what you get. You make a life by what you give.”
Turquoise Teagle (They/Them), USN
Turquoise served for 10 years in the Navy, during Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT) and this career bestowed them the National Defense Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Good Conduct Medal, Sea Service Deployment Ribbon, and the Pistol Sharpshooter Ribbon. Being a nonbinary person of color, Turquoise faced bullying and medical mistreatment; they didn’t see any representation of themselves and were constantly underserved during medical appointments. For nine years, Turquoise fought to raise awareness about the lack of medical support. Their service led to a career in advocating for rights and equality for all. In October 2012, their advocacy helped open a new VA clinic dedicated to women’s health. Turquoise is a social service provider for the San Diego community, was the site coordinator for Crowne Plaza during the pandemic, an Outreach Coordinator for the Veterans Village, and an Unhoused Care Team Coordinator at Downtown San Diego Partnership. For their leadership and dedication to the unhoused community, Turquoise received the Staff of the Year award given by the Regional Task Force on Homelessness. Turquoise was the Youth Housing Manager at The San Diego LGBT Community Center, managing Housing Our Youth Project which works to help youth experiencing homelessness, working to prevent them from becoming unhoused. Turquoise is a model and spokesperson for Dapper Boi, an LGBTQ fashion brand that makes gender–affirming clothes affordable and accessible. They volunteer with the Regional Task Force on Homelessness for the Point in Time Count, which helps the region apply for funds needed to address the homelessness crisis.
Romie Lee Wilford (He/They), USN
Reverend/Co-Pastor/Pastor/Minister Romie Wilford is a veteran, world traveler, father, grandfather, and educator. He holds an AAS degree in Computer Science from the Phillips County Community College of the University of Arkansas, a TA certificate from the San Diego Unified School District, and a BS degree in Human Services from the Springfield College of Human Services. Romie has also attended the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, Arkansas, City College of San Diego, and the University of Phoenix working toward a master’s degree in education. He has worked in the Special Education field for over twenty years. They currently work as an Independent Living Case Manager for people with disabilities at the Arc of San Diego where they have received numerous awards for their work. Romie has also served as a Minister, Pastor, Assistant Pastor, Choir, Youth and Young Adult Pastor, and in the Choir at numerous churches. Notably, he has served as the Senior Pastor and Co-Pastor of Unity Fellowship Christ Church in San Diego. They are also one of the founders of Jehovah’s Truth Full Gospel Ministries of San Diego, California. Romie is a father of two loving and delightful young adults and four loving, delightful, and joyful grandchildren who all live in San Diego, California. He is also the stepdad to another older son and three step grandchildren who live in Michigan. Romie is a proud social justice warrior and a community activist.