SAN DIEGO — A San Diego woman is remembering the loss of her father. In this Zevely Zone, I went to Point Loma to honor the memory of one of San Diego's best known military heroes.
Major General Bruno Hochmuth was a public figure in San Diego in the 1960's, but to Lynn Congemi, he was just a wonderful father. "My dad was an absolutely great dad," said Lynn Congemi. In January, the Mt. Soledad National Veterans Memorial honored Major General Bruno Hochmuth.
General Hochmuth died in Vietnam on November 14, 1967, when the helicopter he was riding in exploded. His death was front page news. "It was. This was the San Diego Evening Tribune," said Lynn who showed me newspaper articles from across the nation.
Five service members died in the crash. "We got hundreds of letters from people all over the world. This one from Ronald Reagan," said Lynn. "When I read them, I feel my father's presence. My dad did what good Marines do, he went to duty. It was his lifework."
Lynn was 17-years old when her father died, and she told me her greatest fear. "I kept thinking I hope I can remember him; I hope I can remember him," said Lynn.
General Hochmuth served as Commanding General of the Marine Corp Recruit Depot in San Diego and our CBS 8 archives are filled with footage of him. We showed Lynn footage of CBS 8 anchor Harold Keen interviewing her father. "Hearing his voice is really amazing," said Lynn.
Our footage also includes the day General Hochmuth left for the Vietnam War at the airport. "That's me, he's leaving, it was the last day I saw him," said Lynn. "I had just turned 17. That is the last I saw him climbing on that plane."
CBS 8 covered the general's funeral. "I have never seen this footage," said Lynn. "Up to the cemetery, Fort Rosecrans, for many years I couldn't go to his gravesite, it was just too hard." General Hochmuth was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal and buried with full military honors. "That is me," said Lynn while watching the archive footage.
WATCH: Throwback video of San Diegan and war hero Major General Bruno Hochmuth
"The military does a beautiful job of honoring their fallen," she said. Lynn says she'll cherish these memories with her sister, children and grandchildren. "I used to feel really angry that I only got my dad for 17 years, but then I realized that I was lucky to have him for 17 years, he was a great dad and not a lot of people that I know have a dad that I would trade for," said Lynn.
Bruno Arthur Hochmuth was born on May 10, 1911, in Houston, Texas. He served in the Marine Corp for 32 years. He was 56 years old when he died. Among his many military medals, General Hochmuth was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal, the Navy Commendation Medal with Gold Star, the Purple Heart with Gold Star and the Presidential Unit Citation.
"That is beautiful thank you. Wow," said Lynn.
Lynn and I would like to extend a special thank you to longtime CBS 8 editor Barb Nielsen. Barb is our amazing Throwback and archives editor who took it upon herself to find this precious footage of Major General Hochmuth. Without Barb's effort, these images would have remained locked in our extensive CBS 8 archive library and this follow-up story never would have aired.
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