By Bonnie Carroll
Pierre Claeyssens Veterans Foundation (PCVF) Memorial Day Ceremony at the Santa Barbara Cemetery not only honored Santa Barbara Veterans, including representatives from all branches of Unites States military service, but for the first time they were joined by local First Responders to who were also honored at the annual Memorial Day Ceremony at the Santa Barbara Cemetery.
Representatives of local first responders attending included The California Highway Patrol, Santa Barbara Area, Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office, Santa Barbara Police Department, Santa Barbara City Fire Department, Santa Barbara County Fire Department, and Montecito Fire Protection District.
University of California, Santa Barbara ROTC Color Guard presented the colors, and the Santa Barbara Choral Society presented a moving rendition of “Battle Hymn of the Republic.” Ryan Marsh, grandson of Brigadier General, Fred Lopez, USMCR (ret.) lead the Pledge of Allegiance followed by Dave Gonzales, Sergeant, Santa Barbara Police Department (ret) who sang our “National Anthem.” The Gold Coast Pipe Band are such an appreciated addition to the (PCVF) ceremonies who performed “Amazing Grace.”
PCVF Lt. John Blankenship with Dana Newquest welcoming guests (Photo: Bonnie Carroll)
Emcee Lt. John Blankenship (USN, former) kept the program moving and as usual was very entertaining. Chaplin jerry Gray (SSgt. USAF) gave the invocation. Salud Carbajal, former US Marine and current U.S. Congressman spoke, followed by an amazing speech by BGen. Fred Lopez, USMCR (ret.).
Bob Burtness and Howard Hudson played “Taps” and The Condor Squadron Officer’s and Airmen’s Association, a unique non-profit organization founded in 1965 by a group of WWII fighter pilots, provided a thrilling flyover of the Condor Squadron’s four T-6 Texan airplanes that was a huge crowd pleaser.
VFW Lifetime Member and PCVF co-founder of (PCVF) Lt. John Blankenship (USN, former) shared his gratitude to all those who make the Pierre Claeyssens Memorial Day Ceremony successful each year including fellow event production members, veterans, those currently serving the country and the generous people who volunteer and support the hour-long free event, including the water sponsors Gerd and Peter Jordano, Jordano Foodservice.
UCSB ROTC Color Guard (Photo: Bonnie Carroll)
Dana Newquist reminded everyone not to forget to drop donations in the containers throughout the site, and then donated a huge check to help (PCVF) produce their annual events honoring veterans. Pierre Claeyssens Veterans Foundation is committed to honoring the men and women who have served in uniform at any time. PCVF does this by supporting veterans and active duty members, and related partner organizations, in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties, as well as preserving military history and legacy. The Foundation works to uphold Pierre Claeyssens’s vision that those who have served are “Never Forgotten.” PCVF is funded entirely by private donations. For donations and information please visit www.pcvf.org or call (805) 259-4394.