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Tuesday, November 20 , 2018, 4:27 am | Overcast 49º


Hundreds Gather for Dedication of Memorial for Lompoc Valley’s Fallen Warriors

Through grassroots effort, site now remembers soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines killed while serving in U.S. military


Following years of drawing plans, raising funds and overcoming hurdles, the Lompoc Valley Fallen Warriors Memorial now sits on a hill as a remembrance for the community’s military casualties, spanning from Matteo Adamoli during World War I to Landon Jones in the War on Terror.

More than 250 people gathered under a hot midday sun Saturday at Beattie Park for the dedication ceremony for the memorial planned and completed thanks to a grassroots effort to make it a reality.

Seven years ago, a flagpole and plaque installation led to the proposal to develop the Fallen Warriors Memorial to remember the Lompoc Valley’s soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines killed while serving in the military.

“Today, after seven long years and I’m sure more than a few tears, and a lot of hard work, we see these dreams do indeed come true,” Mayor Bob Lingl said.

“What a fantastic statement this memorial makes about the Lompoc Valley. We truly are a caring and patriotic community.”

The ceremony, with Orcutt resident Bob Hatch, a highly decorated Vietnam War veteran, as master of ceremonies, included songs by Kaitlyn Chui and a flyover courtesy of the Experimental Aircraft Association’s Chapter 275 from Lompoc.

Hatch also spoke about the American flag while the 30th Space Wing Honor Guard from Vandenberg Air Force Base conducted a flag folding and raising.

“The United States flag represents who we are,” he said. “It stands for the freedoms we all share, and the pride and patriotism we feel for our country.

“We cherish its legacy as a beacon of hope for one and all. Long may it wave.”

Two readings, a Civil War letter presented by the Lompoc Theatre Project’s Mark Herrier and a combat soldier’s prayer recited by Duane Purser, were accompanied by violinist Diane Siminski.

The Lompoc memorial includes 52 names, Col. Michael Hough, commander of the 30th Space Wing, told the crowd in a speech that talked about some of fallen warriors, including Air Force Capt. Derek Argel, who died in a 2005 helicopter crash in Iraq.

Those listed on the memorial left their families and friends to serve in the military when the nation needed them, Hough added.

“Because of their supreme sacrifice we cannot allow their names to fade from our collective memory,” he said.

Through the years, the proposed memorial went through design revisions as financial and other realities hit the project, but the finished site meets the original purpose.

With a walkway and black sign leading to the heart of the monument, names of fallen soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines have been etched onto black granite atop four stone pedestals reflecting casualties during World War I, World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War and the global War on Terror. One list reflects six men killed during training and operations other than war.

Three benches located nearby will provide a place for visitos to reflect on those who didn’t come home. An adjacent wall contains tiles of past and present military members.

“This memorial honoring those who made the ultimate sacrifice is a reminder to all of us that freedom is not free,” Lingl said. “These patriots, these warriors, are still giving to us today because I am sure this memorial will be one of the most visited sites in Lompoc.

“People will come, they will sit, they will visit, they will pray, reflecting on the price of freedom and remembering those who died so we can be free,” he added.

“Everything can be summed up in just two simple words: Thank you.”

Lingl offered thanks to numerous donors and volunteers who made the memorial a reality, as well as the service of many active-duty airmen and veterans in attendance.

“Thank you to the families of those we will forever memorialize here,” he said. “Your pain may never go away but neither will our gratitude. “And, of course, thank you to the men and women to whom this memorial is dedicated. Your sacrifice will never be forgotten.”

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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