Monday, February 19 , 2018, 6:18 pm | A Few Clouds and Breezy 54º


Local News

In Honor of Memorial Day, South Coast Remembers Fallen Veterans

Ceremonies in Santa Barbara, Goleta and Carpinteria pay tribute to those who have made the ultimate sacrifice

A spirit of remembrance was present at Memorial Day events held across the South Coast on Monday to pay tribute to fallen warriors.

The first of the day was held at the Goleta Cemetery, where about 150 people gathered.

As the morning sun hovered over the rows of flags spotting the headstones, several speakers talked about the importance of recalling the sacrifice.

Santa Barbara native Gen. Frederick Lopez, who served in the U.S. Marine Corps for 31 years, was one of those speakers, and said the fallen “had the same hopes and dreams that we have been able to live out because of their sacrifice.”

“We want, and we need, to remember,” he told the crowd. “To do anything less would be to dishonor those who have paid the ultimate price.”

Goleta resident and former U.S. Army Sgt. Scott Wilson read the poem “In Flanders Fields,” which was penned after a 17-day siege in Belgium.

“I have no idea what a 17-day siege must have been. My generation went through a siege at Khe Sanh, and it was a very difficult experience,” he said, pausing with emotion.

Across town, several hundred people packed into the Veterans Memorial Building in Santa Barbara to remember.

As people played volleyball and rode bikes nearby at West Beach, a solemn spirit of remembrance filled the hall.

Col. John Handy of the 351st Civil Affairs Command spoke briefly, and Iraq War veteran Raymond Morua, who was deployed to Iraq in 2003, recalled seeing the Persian Gulf for the first time.

Morua said he doesn’t often share war stories, and when he does it’s with fellow veterans and “it’s more like a counseling session.”

But on Memorial Day, it was important to share and to remember.

“Today I choose to honor my friends who didn’t make it back,” he said. “In a world surrounded by chaos and death, we still managed to laugh.”

Morua said his fondest memories were watching his fellow soldiers return safe from a mission. They would enjoy contraband whiskey and cigars, and even share stories, while sitting among the remains of a former palace belonging to former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein, who died in 2006.

“We would sit in the dark in that bombed-out palace, rifles close at hand and share our dreams,” he said. Some of those men didn’t make it back, and “I thank them for allowing me and every other soldier like me, to allow me to share my dreams in a place surrounded by nightmares.”

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click here to get started >

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through PayPal below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments.

Thank you for your vital support.

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >