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Santa Maria Reveals First Hometown Hero Military Banner Honorees

Program will recognize past and present service members with banners placed along College Drive

Dennis Smitherman, a city Parks and Recreation management anaylyst, displays one of the Hometown Heroes military banners to be placed on College Drive under a new program involving the Santa Maria Recreation and Parks Department plus Veterans of Foreign Wars and American Legion posts. Thompson Knott served during World War II.
Dennis Smitherman, a city Parks and Recreation management anaylyst, displays one of the Hometown Heroes military banners to be placed on College Drive under a new program involving the Santa Maria Recreation and Parks Department plus Veterans of Foreign Wars and American Legion posts. Thompson Knott served during World War II.        (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

A group including men who served in the military in World War II, Vietnam, Kosovo, Bosnia and Afghanistan make up the first class of honorees in the Santa Maria Hometown Heroes Military Banner Program.

Ten past and present military members representing several generations comprise the summer 2016 class to be included on banners bearing their photos and the branch of service each served.

Colorful 3-by-6-foot banners will be placed on a highly traveled segment of College Drive near the College Square shopping center for six-month stints, with the first group to be installed near the end June.

“You’re going to see some people who are real well-known in the community and some who are silent heroes ...,” Recreation and Parks Director Alex Posada said. 

The group includes both officers and enlisted members in addition to those who served in the active duty military in addition to Reserves and National Guard.

“Each of them have a unique story,” Posada added. 

Photos show some of the first honorees in the Santa Maria Hometown Heroes Military Banner Program. Click to view larger
Photos show some of the first honorees in the Santa Maria Hometown Heroes Military Banner Program. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

Honorees includes Army veterans James Bray, Dave Wright, Clay Bradfield, Jack Bradfield, Jonathan Staffel and Thompson Knott.

From the Air Force, the first group of banners will recognize Joseph Skoda III and fallen warrior, Senior Airman Daniel Johnson, who was stationed at Vandenberg Air Force Base when he deployed to Afghanistan, where he was killed by a roadside bomb Oct. 5, 2010.

The Navy will be represented by the late Quirino Galvez while the Marine Corps is represented by Ryan Zierman.

The first class of honorees was introduced during last week’s meeting of the Santa Maria City Council.

“We have families, friends and organizations that have all chipped in to help recognize Santa Maria’s hometown heroes,” said Dennis Smitherman, Recreation and Parks management analyst.

Photos show some of the first honorees in the Santa Maria Hometown Heroes Military Banner Program. Click to view larger
Photos show some of the first honorees in the Santa Maria Hometown Heroes Military Banner Program. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

“It should be really exciting to see these beautiful banners up for display. They’re going to hold their color and just be a really good reminder to Santa Maria’s residents here to thank our hometown heroes,” Smitherman added. 

Santa Maria has long had ties to the military through the former Hancock College of Aeronautics and the Santa Maria Army Air Field and Camp Cooke which is today’s Vandenberg Air Force Base, Posada said. 

While the first class is 10 honorees the program can handle twice that number, city officials said. 

In addition to the individual banners, other banners will spell out a quick blurb about the program.

Late last year, Recreation and Parks officials announced the launch of Hometown Heroes Military Banner Program in conjunction with the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2521 and American Legion Post 56.

Banners cost $250 — less than the $500 initially proposed — to cover printing and hanging costs. Members of Santa Maria Breakfast Rotary nominated several of the first honorees.

After being displayed for six months, the banner will be returned to the families or sponsors. 

Even as they reveal the first group of honorees, the program is accepting nominations for the winter 2017 class of honorees, city officials said. 

Smitherman hopes unveiling the first class of honorees prompts other families and organizations to sign up for future banners. For more information, contact Smitherman at 805.925.0951, ext. 2263.

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully 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.

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