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SOCIETY / DAVID NELSON

'Heroes All' a Night for the Reserve

March 26, 1992|DAVID NELSON

SAN DIEGO — The United States Naval Reserve may be ready to shuck everyday concerns and ship out at a moment's notice when duty calls, but in the social arena it sails in tandem with the patterns set by civilian affairs.

Which is to say that, when the reserve hoists the party flag, it plans ahead and chooses the chairman and theme of the next year's gala on the heels of the event just held. Thus it seemed only natural that the theme of the 28th annual Naval Reserve Officers' Ball, held Saturday at the U.S. Grant for 350 officers, spouses and civilian guests, was "Heroes All," since the committee selected it in the wake of the Gulf War.

The formal event celebrated the 77th anniversary of the Naval Reserve, and did so with full military honors--although the usual strictures of "Navy time" seemed somewhat relaxed for the occasion, and most guests arrived fashionably late for the cocktail hour rather than turning up promptly at "1800," as the invitations advised. No one ignored the dress code, however, which called for dinner dress blues (banded on the sleeves with broad gold stripes, according to rank) or "appropriate formal civilian attire," otherwise interpreted as black tie.

Guests of honor included former Top Gun (and briefly, in the film of the same name, movie personality) Adm. Kenneth (Pete) Pettigrew; Rear Adm. Tom Trautwein; Capt. Robert Kiral; Capt. W. F. Threlkeld; Rear. Adm. Ronald Morgan; San Diego Chamber of Commerce President Lee Grissom and Brig. Gen. Robert L. Cardenas (USAF-ret.) Cardenas, San Diego administrator of the COHORT program, which supplies non-repayable support to needy reservists and responded to the demands made upon them by service in the Gulf War, received a special award given by the California State Committee for Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve.

"Tonight is dedicated to all the reserves, for what they did in Desert Storm and for what they always have done," Cmdr. Elaine H. Allen, who headed the event, said. "They put their professions and themselves at peril, and to me, that makes them heroes. They are quiet heroes who put themselves on the line repeatedly to do for others, and that is what heroism is all about. They embody the familiar concept of 'twice a citizen.' "

Rear. Adm. Morgan repeated that theme in his formal toast to the reservists, which was brief but pointed. "May the sacrifices you make be more than balanced by the rewards that come with knowing you are doing outstanding work on behalf of the total force," he said.

Formalities by no means dominated the evening, and in fine Navy fashion--and fueled by a dinner of Caesar salad and smoked beef filet--the guests boogied into the evening to Big Band Express.

The committee included Capt. Ann Holler, Capt. Roy Williams, Lt. Cmdr. Donna Ciggia, Capt. Dick Cuciti, Capt. Barbara Shell, Cmdr. Sharon Kleinschmidt, Cmdr. Cheryl Janus, Lt. Patricia Hartowicz, Lt. Cmdr. Nancy Herrmans Clancy and Lt. Patricia Mobley.

Most recipients of corporate largess would be only too happy to be able to make the statement proffered by Scripps Memorial Hospitals Foundation president James Bowers at last Thursday's gala charity opening of Cartier jewelers in downtown's new Paladion.

Stationed near the atrium entrance to the fashionable shop, and with one hand stretched in greeting to arriving guests and the other wrapped firmly around a glass of champagne, Bowers said: "The wonderful thing is to be the beneficiary of an event like this and have to do so little work in return."

"An event like this" encompassed the lavish details that Cartier, rooted in Paris but accustomed to entertaining in this country according to New York rules, poured into the early evening cocktail reception. Guests passed through the store long enough to see the $20,000 check written to Scripps Memorial--sealed in a wall display, along with a pair of diamond-crusted earrings--and meet Cartier President Simon Critchell and Chairman Ralph Destino, who directed them up the escalator to the Paladion's roof-top pavilion.

It seemed odd, at first, that the focus should so quickly be shifted away from the shop, but the explanation waited under the pavilion, where a quartet of "panther models" (body-suited in feline black, faces hidden by feathered cat masks) moved in sinuous orchestration to what could only be called a cocktail band. Parceled out among the four were about $20 million in gems, all in constant movement unless one indicated the desire to examine a particular piece; in that case, the model held the jewel in tantalizing suspension.

Reactions to the display ranged from the spellbound to the amused, depending primarily on who was doing the watching.

"I told my husband that he can have the models if I can have the jewels," remarked one matron, who attached the coy coda, "He's too old to know what to do with them, anyway."

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