A plaque and living memorial were dedicated Monday for a soldier from Santa Maria who was killed in action earlier this year in Afghanistan.
The ceremony, sponsored by the Santa Maria Valley Chamber of Commerce, was to honor the memory of U.S. Army Spc. Kenneth Clifford Alvarez, 23, who was killed Aug. 23 in Haft Asiab, Afghanistan, when his unit was attacked with an improvised explosive device.
Another soldier also was killed in the attack.
Alvarez was a 2009 graduate of Delta High School and enlisted in the Army in 2011.
Robert Hatch, president and CEO of the Santa Maria Valley Chamber of Commerce and a highly decorated Vietnam War veteran, was the keynote speaker at Monday's event, which was held at the Freedom Monument Veterans Memorial, 600 S. McClelland St., in front of the Abel Maldonado Youth Center.
Also attending and making comments were Santa Maria Mayor Alice Patino, state Assemblyman Katcho Achadjian, Santa Barbara County Fifth District Supervisor Steve Lavagnino, Santa Maria American Legion Post 56 Cmdr. Frank Campo and Col. Jed Davis, the 30th Mission Support Group commander at Vandenberg Air Force Base.
“We cannot underscore enough the importance as a community to recognize, honor and remember Kenneth Alvarez and the ultimate sacrifice he, and others before him, made to protect and defend our country and the freedoms we have,” Hatch said prior to the ceremony.
In addition to placing the plaque, an evergreen pear tree was planted as a living memorial to Alvarez.
The Chamber of Commerce designed and built the Freedom Monument Veterans Memorial in collaboration with the City of Santa Maria in 2001. Since then, there have been plaques and memorials added each year in an annual ceremony.
For more information, contact the Chamber of Commerce at 805.925.2403 x817 or x825, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.