Singers, poets and guitarists added a layer of creativity to this year’s Los Angeles Fleet Week — as well as come competition.

They weren’t your everyday performers, but the everyday heroes the military expo in San Pedro celebrates annually. They also happen to have special, non-military talents. Which is why for the first time, Fleet Week featured “Military Has Talent,” a competition that culminated on Memorial Day with seven finalists taking to the state outside the USS Iowa.

Sgt. Jesse Quintana, an Air Force medic, won the talent show on Monday, May 29, by performing Adele’s “Easy on me,” hitting every soprano note that the original artist would herself.

It’s “exhilarating, definitely a rush,” Quintana said of his victory. “There was good competition out there; it was nerve wracking, (so) I tried to tell myself it was another casual karaoke night.”

  • Navy Lt. Terry Draper belts out a tune during the...

    Navy Lt. Terry Draper belts out a tune during the Military Has Talent competition at LA Fleet Week on Monday, May 29, 2023, in San Pedro. (Photo by Howard Freshman, Contributing Photographer)

  • Marine Sgt. Luis Cruz poses for visitors atop an amphibious...

    Marine Sgt. Luis Cruz poses for visitors atop an amphibious combat vehicle at LA Fleet Week on Memorial Day, Monday, May 29, 2023, in San Pedro. (Photo by Howard Freshman, Contributing Photographer)

  • An American flag flies from the Battleship Iowa at LA...

    An American flag flies from the Battleship Iowa at LA Fleet Week on Memorial Day, Monday, May 29, 2023, in San Pedro. (Photo by Howard Freshman, Contributing Photographer)

  • Chief Electronics Mate Anthony Morrey sings and plays the guitar...

    Chief Electronics Mate Anthony Morrey sings and plays the guitar during the Military Has Talent competition at LA Fleet Week on Monday, May 29, 2023, in San Pedro. (Photo by Howard Freshman, Contributing Photographer)

  • Six active members of the military and a veteran participated...

    Six active members of the military and a veteran participated in the Military Has Talent competition at LA Fleet Week on Monday, May 29, 2023, in San Pedro. (Photo by Howard Freshman, Contributing Photographer)

  • Marine Corps Sgt. Christian Bestula sings “Mack the Knife” during...

    Marine Corps Sgt. Christian Bestula sings “Mack the Knife” during the Military Has Talent competition at LA Fleet Week on Monday, May 29, 2023, in San Pedro. (Photo by Howard Freshman, Contributing Photographer)

  • Big crowds turn out for the final day of LA...

    Big crowds turn out for the final day of LA Fleet Week on Memorial Day, Monday, May 29, 2023, in San Pedro. (Photo by Howard Freshman, Contributing Photographer)

  • Big crowds turn out for the final day of LA...

    Big crowds turn out for the final day of LA Fleet Week on Memorial Day, Monday, May 29, 2023, in San Pedro. (Photo by Howard Freshman, Contributing Photographer)

  • Big crowds turn out for the final day of LA...

    Big crowds turn out for the final day of LA Fleet Week on Memorial Day, Monday, May 29, 2023, in San Pedro. (Photo by Howard Freshman, Contributing Photographer)

  • Big crowds turn out for the final day of LA...

    Big crowds turn out for the final day of LA Fleet Week on Memorial Day, Monday, May 29, 2023, in San Pedro. (Photo by Howard Freshman, Contributing Photographer)

  • Spectators cheer during the Military Has Talent competition at LA...

    Spectators cheer during the Military Has Talent competition at LA Fleet Week on Monday, May 29, 2023, in San Pedro. (Photo by Howard Freshman, Contributing Photographer)

  • Brayden Lape, left, and Morgan Myles from TV’s “The Voice”...

    Brayden Lape, left, and Morgan Myles from TV’s “The Voice” serve as judges in the Military Has Talent competition at LA Fleet Week on Monday, May 29, 2023, in San Pedro. (Photo by Howard Freshman, Contributing Photographer)

  • Big crowds turn out for the final day of LA...

    Big crowds turn out for the final day of LA Fleet Week on Memorial Day, Monday, May 29, 2023, in San Pedro. (Photo by Howard Freshman, Contributing Photographer)

  • Big crowds turn out for the final day of LA...

    Big crowds turn out for the final day of LA Fleet Week on Memorial Day, Monday, May 29, 2023, in San Pedro. (Photo by Howard Freshman, Contributing Photographer)

  • Big crowds turn out for the final day of LA...

    Big crowds turn out for the final day of LA Fleet Week on Memorial Day, Monday, May 29, 2023, in San Pedro. (Photo by Howard Freshman, Contributing Photographer)

  • Big crowds turn out for the final day of LA...

    Big crowds turn out for the final day of LA Fleet Week on Memorial Day, Monday, May 29, 2023, in San Pedro. (Photo by Howard Freshman, Contributing Photographer)

  • The Herd family from San Pedro shows off their Stars...

    The Herd family from San Pedro shows off their Stars and Stripes with Marines from Camp Pendleton’s 1st Medical Battalion at LA Fleet Week on Memorial Day, Monday, May 29, 2023, in San Pedro. (Photo by Howard Freshman, Contributing Photographer)

  • Attendees flash their Stars and Stripes at LA Fleet Week...

    Attendees flash their Stars and Stripes at LA Fleet Week on Memorial Day, Monday, May 29, 2023, in San Pedro. (Photo by Howard Freshman, Contributing Photographer)

  • Six active members of the military and a veteran participate...

    Six active members of the military and a veteran participate in the Military Has Talent competition at LA Fleet Week on Monday, May 29, 2023, in San Pedro. (Photo by Howard Freshman, Contributing Photographer)

  • Staff Sgt. Jesse Quintana, an Air Force Medic and singer,...

    Staff Sgt. Jesse Quintana, an Air Force Medic and singer, won the Military Has Talent competition at LA Fleet Week on Monday, May 29, 2023, in San Pedro. (Photo by Howard Freshman, Contributing Photographer)

  • Staff Sgt. Jesse Quintana, an Air Force Medic and singer,...

    Staff Sgt. Jesse Quintana, an Air Force Medic and singer, won the Military Has Talent competition at LA Fleet Week on Monday, May 29, 2023, in San Pedro. (Photo by Howard Freshman, Contributing Photographer)

  • Attendees flash their Stars and Stripes at LA Fleet Week...

    Attendees flash their Stars and Stripes at LA Fleet Week on Memorial Day, Monday, May 29, 2023, in San Pedro. (Photo by Howard Freshman, Contributing Photographer)

  • Attendees flash their Stars and Stripes at LA Fleet Week...

    Attendees flash their Stars and Stripes at LA Fleet Week on Memorial Day, Monday, May 29, 2023, in San Pedro. (Photo by Howard Freshman, Contributing Photographer)

  • Attendees flash their Stars and Stripes at LA Fleet Week...

    Attendees flash their Stars and Stripes at LA Fleet Week on Memorial Day, Monday, May 29, 2023, in San Pedro. (Photo by Howard Freshman, Contributing Photographer)

  • Luca Roberts, 6, of Pasadena, is decked out in an...

    Luca Roberts, 6, of Pasadena, is decked out in an Army uniform while is brother, Nico, 3, opts for a police department outfit at LA Fleet Week on Monday, May 29, 2023, in San Pedro. (Photo by Howard Freshman, Contributing Photographer)

  • Attendees flash their stars and stripes at LA Fleet Week...

    Attendees flash their stars and stripes at LA Fleet Week on Memorial Day, Monday, May 29, 2023, in San Pedro. (Photo by Howard Freshman, Contributing Photographer)

  • Staff Sgt. Jesse Quintana, an Air Force Medic and singer,...

    Staff Sgt. Jesse Quintana, an Air Force Medic and singer, won the Military Has Talent competition at LA Fleet Week on Monday, May 29, 2023, in San Pedro. (Photo by Howard Freshman, Contributing Photographer)

  • Staff Sgt. Jesse Quintana, an Air Force Medic and singer,...

    Staff Sgt. Jesse Quintana, an Air Force Medic and singer, won the Military Has Talent competition at LA Fleet Week on Monday, May 29, 2023, in San Pedro. (Photo by Howard Freshman, Contributing Photographer)

  • Six active members of the military and a veteran participate...

    Six active members of the military and a veteran participate in the Military Has Talent competition at LA Fleet Week on Monday, May 29, 2023, in San Pedro. (Photo by Howard Freshman, Contributing Photographer)

Quintana used to sing in a church choir, and then continued doing so as as a hobby, training his own voice. But he never pushed himself to perform in this capacity, Quintana said — until now.

He said he may try to take his talent to the next level, Quinta said, perhaps auditioning for a television show such as “The Voice.” But he also wants to be back in San Pedro next year.

“I hope to come back and defend my title next year,” Quintana said.

One of the other seven finalists recited an original poem, and the rest sang songs, including Erykah Badu’s “Tyrone,” Nina Simone’s “Feeling Good” and Alicia Keys’s “If I ain’t got you.”

Crowd-cheer voting whittled contestants down to four; those folks performed one last time before judges Morgan Myles and Brayden Lape, both former contestants on “The Voice,” picked Quintana as the winner.

Myles and Lape also performed later in the day.

The competition started at the top of the weekend with about a dozen participants, talent show organizer Laurie Baker said. Next year, she added, they may open the show up to first responders as well.

Marty Barrera, who was invited to LA Fleet Week’s last day by a friend volunteering there, said she wanted Marine Corps Sgt. Christian Bestul, who sang Bobby Darin’s “Mack the Knife” in the semifinal round, to take the trophy.

“I thought his delivery was good,” Barrera said. “He could have sang any song ’cause I thought he was the best singer of all of them.”

Monday’s finals were a thrilling capstone to an exciting weekend that celebrated the nation’s seafaring military forces, particularly the Navy and the Coast Guard. The entire four-day event featured military ship tours and exhibitions, as well as various competitions and performances — with a Memorial Day commemoration ending the affair. In all, about 10,000 people came through each day, said Kyle Aube, development director at the Battleship Iowa Museum.

It’s been all about “appreciating the Marines, sailors and army, welcoming them with open arms and integrating them into the community,” Aube said. “All the branches come together to make this happen.”

Service members also went out to events across greater Los Angeles during this year’s Fleet Week, hitting up everywhere from Brea to Venice, the Harbor Area to Sylmar.

The community was excited to see the event return last year, Aube said — and even more thrilled this year.

Thomas J. Johnson III and Beverly Johnson, of La Mirada, were among those who visited the expo on Monday to get an experience that Johnson III hadn’t had since his own military days.

“I’ve never been to one of these,” said Johnson III, who worked in Air Force power production. “I love the military, so I wanted to see the active ships.”

The couple were among those who waited in line for the shuttle that eventually took them to tour the USS Cincinnati, USS Princeton and USS Ashland. Folks could also shuttle over to see the US Coast cutter dubbed Terrell Horne.

Ship tourers usually don’t have three active vessels to choose from, Beverly Johnson said, so she was excited to see a some new vessels and new areas within them.

Some people may have spent their entire visit waiting to view the ships, though, as shuttle lines were long — going from from one gate to the next across the Battleship Iowa parking lot.

Besides the active ships and the retired USS Iowa battleship, which now serves as a museum, people could also go aboard and view smaller Navy and Marine boats, fire trucks, helicopters, trucks and an an amphibious combat vehicle, essentially a tank that can take Marines from ship to shore.

Air Force flyovers also continued throughout Memorial Day, and the Golden West Pops band played classic tunes and patriotic songs, such as “Yankee Doodle.”

“The whole purpose is to raise awareness of the service these people provide, and the opportunities in each of those branches,” Aube said, “So, having kids come out and learn more about what the military does is highly valuable.”

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