Pierre Claeyssens Veterans Foundation “Night at the Drive-In!” Honors Two Local WWII Veterans

Source: Pierre Claeyssens Veterans Foundation

Although it has been difficult to have in person events this year, Pierre Claeyssens Veterans Foundation (PCVF) is still managing to keep the Veteran’s Day spirit alive with “Night at the Drive-In!,” an event where they will honor World War II Veterans Art Peterson and Ugo D. Arnoldi, deceased. 

Every year, PCVF has their in-person Military Ball to show their appreciation for all Veterans but this year, due to COVID-19, they have changed their usual in-person event to a drive-in event to fit social distancing guidelines. Their drive-in event will have a gourmet BBQ boxed dinner, a movie screening of Memphis Belle, a few surprises and will keep their tradition of honoring veterans from the Santa Barbara community. 

“We are proud to be able to have a Veteran’s Day event for Santa Barbara since we can’t have our annual Military Ball. We are excited to show support for our local veterans during “Night at the Drive-In!” and it is with our highest honor to show appreciation for Art and Ugo during this event,” said PCVF co-founder Lt. John Blankenship (USN former). 

Firstly, PCVF will honor 96-Year-Old World War II Veteran and Santa Barbara native, Art Peterson. Peterson was a paratrooper in the Army’s 101st Airborne Division during World War II. On D-Day, June 6th, 1944, Peterson was involved in the largest seaborne invasion that has occurred in history. Peterson fought in some of the biggest battles in the European war, even though he had a hard time getting into the military. He was just 17 years old, and finishing up high school when the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor plunged the U.S. into World War II.  

Peterson was sent to basic training at Camp Roberts, which is on the San Luis Obispo/Monterey County Line. While there, he volunteered as a paratrooper and was set to Ft. Campbell, Kentucky. His unit, Fox Company, arrived in England in late 1943 for final training before the invasion. 

Peterson says it was while he was in England, he had some of the toughest duty of the war, helping to recover the bodies of British civilians killed in the Germans incessant bombing of London. 

Though he came through D-Day without a scratch, he wasn’t so lucky three months later as the 101st Airborne pushed into German occupied Holland. He was preparing to jump out of a plane with his unit when a bullet came through the floor of the plane, and hit him in the leg, severely wounding him. His sergeant ordered him not to jump, and to take the plain back to England. 

Secondly, PCVF will honor Ugo D. Arnoldi, now deceased, who also served on D-Day and was as machine gunner and a driver as Patton was breaking out of Normandy. Arnoldi was drafted into the army in June of 1943 at the age of eighteen and took basic training at the Fort Riley, Kansas Cavalry School. He was then transferred to Fort Jackson, South Carolina for further training.  

Early in 1944, he was sent to England to prepare for the D-Day invasion where he was stationed on the Salisbury plains, once called the Cloth of Gold due to the lavish tournaments held by early English kings. It was within sight of the famed Stonehenge, thought to be the ruins of a sacrificial temple from the days of the Druids. 

When the 3rd army broke out of Normandy in early August, its movement across France proceeded very quickly. Resistance stiffened as they began to approach the German border. By early September the 3rd army was near Metz, Germany and just south of Luxembourg. Several months later, Arnoldi boarded a ship for the United States and left the army on January 10, 1946. 

Mr. Arnoldi returned to Santa Barbara, went to the Santa Barbara Business College and became the bookkeeper-accountant for his parents who owned Arnoldi’s Café and a masonry company. His family still owns the property but is no longer in the restaurant business. 

Art Peterson and Ugo D. Arnoldi’s families will proudly stand in place this Veteran’s Day for the courageousness and heroic acts of service they provided for the U.S. in their lifetimes. 

“Night at the Drive-In!” It will be held on Wednesday, November 11, with doors opening (actually, gates) at 4:30 PM at Goleta’s West Wind Drive-In, located at 907 Kellogg Avenue. There attendees will pick up a gourmet BBQ boxed dinner and proceed to their “seat,” er, parking space. 

The program will begin at 5:30 PM, will feature a stage show presentation, silent digital auction, screening of the World War II movie Memphis Belle, starring Matthew Modine and Santa Barbara’s own Eric Stoltz, and a few surprises. General admission tickets are $50 per person, & $10 for children 10 years old and younger. Veterans and active duty service members can purchase scholarship tickets at a reduced rate. General admission tickets may be purchased online. 

To learn more about this event, please visit: https://www.pcvf.org/veterans-day-weekend  


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