Category Archives: Heroes Hall

  • Thursday, August 8, 2019 (2:00 pm)

    OC Fair breaks ground on A-4M Skyhawk relocation project

    It’s official! The groundbreaking ceremony to celebrate the incoming arrival of the A-4M Skyhawk happened on Thursday, Aug. 8 and featured several OC Fair, state, county, city and veterans leaders.

    Former news and sports anchor Ed Arnold served as the program’s emcee.

    The aircraft will move from the Santa Ana Civic Center by the end of September, and will be installed and dedicated outside Heroes Hall on Nov. 9.

    The plane had been a part of Civic Center Plaza for more than a decade, but has to be moved due to construction plans.

    The plane is on loan from the National Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola, Fla.

    Click here to see more photos from the event.

  • Thursday, August 1, 2019 (2:30 pm)

    OC Fair announces A-4M Skyhawk Groundbreaking at Heroes Hall

    OC Fair & Event Center is excited to announce a groundbreaking ceremony for the relocation of a Vietnam-era A-4M Skyhawk aircraft from the Santa Ana Civic Center to Heroes Hall. The plane had been a part of Civic Center Plaza for more than a decade, but has to be moved due to construction plans.

    The ceremony will take place at 11 a.m. on Thursday, Aug. 8 before the OC Fair opens. Refreshments will be served immediately following the ceremony.

    The aircraft is expected to be transported to OCFEC by the end of September and to be installed prior to a Veterans Day dedication ceremony in November.

    The plane is on loan from the National Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola, Fla.

    RSVP to

    Note: This event will take place before the OC Fair opens. You will receive instructions for parking and entrance upon submitting your RSVP.

    Heroes Hall is a free, permanent, year-round museum and education center with exhibitions, performances and educational programs that celebrate the legacy of Orange County veterans and others who have served our nation. The museum is located next to Centennial Farm on the fairgrounds in Costa Mesa and is open to the public year-round Wednesdays through Sundays, 11 a.m.-5 p.m., and featured in school tours on Mondays and Tuesdays. Parking and admission for Heroes Hall is free except during the OC Fair and select year-round events.

  • Friday, July 26, 2019 (12:36 pm)

    The song ‘Taps’ and a historical connection to Heroes Hall

    Mitchell Butterfield introduces the playing of “Taps,” played at 6 p.m. each night of the OC Fair at Heroes Hall. (Inset photo) Daniel Butterfield, largely credited with composing “Taps.” Main photo by Mike Goulding, inset photo courtesy of the Library of Congress.

    When “Taps” gets played at 6 p.m. nightly at Heroes Hall during the 2019 OC Fair, there’s one man standing there who has an especially direct attachment to the song.

    Mitchell Butterfield, who works at Heroes Hall during the Fair, is related to Daniel Butterfield, the Medal of Honor-winning Civil War Army general largely credited with composing the song. 

    Daniel Butterfield, along with bugler Oliver Willcox Norton, wrote “Taps” as a new way to establish the military call for the end of the day. It wasn’t until after the Civil War that it became the official end-of-day call.

    Nowadays, it’s most associated with being played at military funerals.

    Mitchell Butterfield salutes the flag as “Taps” plays at Heroes Hall. The song is played at 6 p.m. each night of the OC Fair at Heroes Hall. Photo by Mike Goulding

    Mitchell Butterfield’s fellow workers at Heroes Hall had no idea about the connection.

    “When we had the first kid who played ‘Taps,’ I went up and told him, ‘You know, my great great grandfather wrote that song,’ Butterfield said. “And (Heroes Hall Supervisor Carol Singleton) heard that and said, ‘Really?’ And then it just went from there.”

    Taps has been played at Heroes Hall for the OC Fair since the military museum opened in 2017.

    Mitchell Butterfield, 72, from Orange, is also an Army veteran, while his father was a Marine who was stationed at El Toro, lived in Tustin and later moved to Orange.

    While Butterfield is proud of the historical connection — “I feel proud that he had something to do with it. I tell it to anyone who wants to listen” – he’s also reluctant to mention it when he introduces the playing of “Taps” at Heroes Hall.

    Centennial Farm volunteer Richard Grogan, a bugler who plays “Taps” at Heroes Hall. Photo by Carol Singleton

    “When I do the announcement, I don’t mention the family part of it,” he said. “It’s not relevant. It’s about the vets. It’s about the servicemen.”

    During a recent night at Heroes Hall, “Taps” was played for the first time with the correct musical instrument: a bugle.

    And the bugler playing it? Another OC Fair connection: Richard Grogan, a Centennial Farm volunteer as an oxen teamster.

  • Friday, October 13, 2017 (6:27 pm)

    Behind the lines – behind the scenes: A new photography exhibit debuts at Heroes Hall

    AdhamiyahWalk (21) 2008 WEBA striking new photography exhibit, Kimberly Millett’s Operation Iraqi Freedom, debuts this weekend at Heroes Hall, which reopens Saturday, Oct. 14, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

    The exhibition on the first floor of Heroes Hall will feature images captured by Public Affairs Specialist Kimberly Millett while on assignment with the U.S. Army from 2006 to 2009. The exhibit is the Newport Beach resident’s first. As a graduate of UC San Diego, Millett was deployed twice to Iraq as a journalist.

    Millett has previously worked in the Visual and Home Arts galleries at the OC Fair, and entered a collection of military coins in the Collections gallery. Her grandfather, William Boylhart, served at the Santa Ana Arm Air Base during WWII, and her brother, Ryan Millett, loaned Heroes Hall the military vehicles used at its opening. So it’s no surprise that she was attracted to the military.

    “I had always thought of joining the military,” Millett said. “I read about basic training and boot camp and kind of liked the idea of the lifestyle before I even knew what it really was.”

    Mosul (9) April 2009 WEBDuring Millet’s first deployment she provided documentation – photographs and commentary – on the 89th MP Brigade stationed at Camp Victory, Iraq, from August 2006 to November 2007.

    “It didn’t feel real,” Millett said of her first tour. “But if you do anything long enough, it becomes natural.”

    During her second deployment to Iraq, from August 2008 to September 2009, she was assigned to document the activities of General Raymond T. Odierno and General David Petraeus as they sought to stabilize the country so the roots of democracy could take hold.

    “We toured prisons, hospitals, an amusement park, voting facilities, police stations, markets and schools,” Millett said. “One trip would take us to a modern, thriving city, and on another day we would walk through a place that looked straight out of biblical times. I built a snowman in front of the president’s place. We went to Turkey for a lunch meeting. There were lavish palaces and towns with rivers of raw sewage. Every trip was an adventure in its own way.”

    APR_5519 WEBThe photography exhibit features aluminum prints as well as several mementos from Millett’s tours, including Salaam the Sock Monkey, who became part of Millett’s journey and even earned a Combat Action Badge and Iraq Service Medal. The photos chosen depict outings, memorials, generals and leaders.

    “My favorite part of working for the general was the battlefield circulations,” Millett said. “Once a week or so we would go to a new town and walk through the local marketplace. This gave the general (Odierno) a chance to talk informally to both businessmen and commanders about concerns. It was nice to see the country without a thick armored door between you and the people.”

    Also coming up at Heroes Hall

    GX6149 Veterans Story telling logo_FinalVoices – Veterans Storytelling Project will feature local veterans sharing their stories of bravery. The evening is a culmination of a six week workshop in which veterans gathered at Heroes Hall to learn the best way to piece their stories together. Join us in supporting our local veterans at this free event on Friday, Oct. 20, at 6:30 p.m.

    Heroes Hall is an exhibition hall honoring Orange County’s veterans. It opened in February 2017 and also features “The SAAAB Story” exhibit, which celebrates the history of the flight training center, as well as The Medal of Honor Plaza and the Orange County Walk of Honor, both tributes to veterans from Orange County who received high honors from the United States government. For more information about Heroes Hall, visit

  • Thursday, September 28, 2017 (3:39 pm)

    Heroes Hall to close Oct. 2-13 in preparation for new exhibit

    Heroes Hall will be closed Oct. 2-13 in order to make room for a photography exhibit, Kimberly Millett’s Operation Iraqi Freedom, debuting Oct. 14.

    September will be the last month to view The Things They Carried, one of the veterans museum’s first exhibitions since its opening in February 2017. 

    The Things They Carried is loosely based on the book by Tim O’Brien and offers a glimpse into veterans’ personal experiences of war. Working in conjunction with local veterans groups, the stories of Orange County veterans are gathered and told through the personal objects they carried into conflict. The exhibition consists of objects that individual veterans carried with them as well as film, audio, photography, text and art.

    Heroes Hall is open daily from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m, except Oct. 2-13, 2017. Admission is free. For more information, visit