Oceanside – Council Pays Honor by Renaming Bridge and Airfield

OCEANSIDE — City Council paid honor to Civil Rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. and Oceanside resident and airman, the late Bob Maxwell, by renaming the Mission Avenue Bridge after King and the airfield at Oceanside Municipal Airport after Maxwell on Nov. 7. The council voted unanimously to rename the bridge that crosses Mission Avenue the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Bridge.

An ad hoc committee selected the bridge as a prominent location to honor King.

Committee member and Parks and Recreation Commission chair Charles Adams said the new name of the bridge would honor the city’s cultural diversity and reflect residents’ hopes and dreams.

“Our diversity is one of the richnesses we inherited,” Adams said.

Oceanside has previously named a middle school, city park and stretch of roadway along Mesa Drive after King.

Approval to rename the airfield Bob Maxwell Memorial Airfield passed in a 4-1 vote, in which Mayor Jim Wood voted no. Wood said he did not object to honoring Maxwell, but wanted to add the words “Oceanside” and “Tuskegee Airmen.”

There was also a request from Oceanside resident Joanna Kroon to rename the airfield after Alfonso Harris, who is also an Oceanside resident, and Tuskegee Airman, and the Tuskegee Airmen.

Kroon said she did not want to give less of an honor to Maxwell, but believed visitors might not recognize Maxwell’s name and would know the history of the Tuskegee Airmen in World War II.

The all-African American Army Air Corps were the first African Americans trained to fly in combat and were based in Tuskegee, Ala. in 1941.

Councilman Jerry Kern who brought the item forward said renaming the airfield was to honor Maxwell and all he did.

Kern added that an interactive information center at the airport would tell visitors more about Maxwell and the Tuskegee Airmen.

“It’s to honor Bob Maxwell and all the work he’s done for Oceanside to save the airport,” Kern said. “What he did as a person. This is about Bob and his work.”

Others also gave Maxwell kudos for his work to keep the municipal airport open and his volunteer hours with youth that instilled a love of aerospace.

“I knew Bob Maxwell for my entire 12 years here,” Councilman Jack Feller said.

“He is the one reason young people went to the airport,” he added.

About $10,000 needs to be raised for a park sign that states the new name of the airfield.