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Monday, March 18 , 2019, 2:08 pm | Fair 67º


Community Observances Salute Veterans of Past and Present

Veterans Day gathering at Goleta Valley Community Center and a parade by Coastline Christian Academy honor the service and sacrifices of those in the military

The sacrifices and service of America’s veterans — past and present — were at the forefront Thursday as about 100 people gathered for a Veterans Day commemoration at the Goleta Valley Community Center.

Air Force Maj. Jeff McLean, the keynote speaker, thanked all of the veterans at the event, including Army Maj. Bill Muncaster, who served in the Battle of the Bulge during World War II.

“I’m inspired by the sacrifices made,” said McLean, who has served in the Air Force for the past 15 years as a mental health officer.

Two of those who made the ultimate sacrifice to serve were recounted, and McLean noted the recent death of 23-year-old Senior Airman Daniel Johnson, who worked with the explosive ordinance disposal team dismantling IEDs. He was killed in the line of duty on Oct. 5 while serving in Kandahar, Afghanistan. Johnson, recently married, left the comfort of home to serve overseas.

“He was very proud to serve and protect his country. ... His story needs to be told,” McLean said.

Johnson’s job was a dangerous one, but one that saved countless lives of fellow soldiers, as well as civilians. “He had a heart of compassion,” McLean said.

McLean also recalled when he himself was deployed to Baghdad four years ago, to a unit that had recently suffered the loss of a fallen comrade. Tech Sgt. Walter Moss died in an IED blast, and McLean recalled the words spoken of Moss at his memorial service, when a friend called Moss “the best man I have ever known.”

“I’m honored to wear the same uniform” as Muncaster, Johnson and Moss, he said.

Vocalist Angky Budiardjono sang “America the Beautiful” and “Amazing Grace” during the ceremony, and representatives from the Army, Navy, Air Force and U.S. Coast Guard were present to raise the flags of their branches. A flag also was raised for the Prisoners of War and Missing In Action soldiers. The Air Force Color Guard from Vandenberg Air Force Base presented the colors and raised the American flag.

Goleta Mayor Eric Onnen expressed gratitude on behalf of the city’s residents and the City Council. He recalled sending off the marathoners at Dos Pueblos High School last Saturday. He said that watching the 1,700 runners launch off into the darkness from the starting line was inspiring.

“The energy and the feelings that came as you watch people enter into this endeavor was uplifting,” he said. “This is a humble experience compared to what the veterans have done.”

“You make us all a little better,” he told the crowd of veterans. “We each feel the inspiration to serve a cause greater than our own cause.”

Also in Goleta on Thursday, a red, white and blue parade of children, parents and local veterans made its way down the Cathedral Oaks Road sidewalk.

Many schools took the day off, but the students and staff of Coastline Christian Academy took the opportunity to thank members of the armed forces for their service.

The cheerful group waved noisemakers and signs, and older students towed the younger ones in decorated wagons.

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk or @NoozhawkNews. Noozhawk staff writer Giana Magnoli contributed to this report.

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