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Names of 12 World War I Veterans to Be Added to Santa Maria Freedom Monument at Annual Ceremony

The names of World War I veterans will be added to the Santa Maria Freedom Monument Veterans Memorial for the first time since it opened during a ceremony Dec. 8, 2015.

The 2015 Freedom Monument Veterans Memorial ceremony will dedicate a World War I plaque that lists the names of 12 Santa Maria-area veterans who were killed during “The war to end all wars.”

The 12 fallen WWI soldiers include Matteo Adamoli, ​Soren Badasci, Marshall Branden, Frank Burrel, Franklin Greely, Hugh Higgins, Guy Jamison, Mike Ontiveros, Delores Peredes, Manuel Pico, John Speed and Bernardo Tagliaferri.

The 12 names were uncovered through the diligent, time-consuming research by the Santa Maria Historical Society and, in particular, the organization’s president, Edward “Jim” Zemaitis.

“It took considerable time to go through archival information, newspapers, letters and other researchable data to find these veterans,” said Zemaitis. “I felt it was important to appropriately identify these veterans.”

Bob Hatch, one of the founders of the Freedom Monument and a highly decorated Vietnam veteran agrees with Zemaitis.

“I commend the effort because our goal is to recognize and honor all veterans who have died during time of war. If it were not for this painstaking research, these veterans would have remained forgotten.”

The addition of these veterans brings the total number of Santa Maria Valley veterans who have given their lives during time of war to 112. They are all honored at the Freedom Monument Veterans Memorial.

The ceremony is scheduled for 10 a.m. Tuesday, Dec. 8, 2015, at 600 S. McClelland, in front of the Abel Maldonado Youth Center. In case of inclement weather, the ceremony will be held inside the youth center. Everyone is invited to attend this community event.

The following community members will speak at the event:

» Bob Hatch, Military Affairs Chairman, will be the Keynote Speaker

» Mayor Alice Patino

» Glenn Morris, president and CEO, Santa Maria Valley Chamber of Commerce

» Vandenberg Air Force Base, 30th Space Wing speaker - TBD

» Edward Zemaitis, president, Santa Maria Historical Society

» Frank Campo, chairman, Santa Barbara County Veterans Services Advisory Committee

» Michael Stadnick Jr., Santa Maria Veteran Honor Guard Commander

» Dave Cross, VAFB Commander Advisory Group member, will be the emcee

Rounding out the program, Taps will be played by Larry Hill, Community Engagement Section Chief, 30th Space Wing. The Santa Maria Police Department Honor Guard will present the Colors, and the National Anthem will be sung by Gina Keough, Visitor and Convention Bureau Manager. 

The Santa Maria Valley Chamber of Commerce financed the building of the monument in 2001 through a strong partnership with the City of Santa Maria.

Each year the chamber finances a new plaque or an upgrade to the monument, and each year there is a dedication ceremony. 

“The Chamber of Commerce is honored to be a driving force in honoring these veterans and all veterans on behalf of the community,” said Glenn Morris, president and CEO of the Santa Maria Valley Chamber of Commerce.
In addition to the plaque dedication, there will be a wreath ceremony, where local organizations post patriotic wreaths in honor of all of the fallen veterans listed at the Freedom Monument.

For additional Freedom Monument information, click here to watch a video, or contact Dave Cross at 805.680.5016 or [email protected], Hatch at 805.598.9100 or [email protected] or Morris at 805.925.2403 x825 or [email protected].

For additional information regarding the 12 World War I Veterans, contact Zemaitis at 805.925.2216 or [email protected] or Cindy Ransick at 805.922.3130 or [email protected].

Justin Stoner is the communications and marketing manager for the Santa Maria Valley Chamber of Commerce.


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