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Wednesday, December 19 , 2018, 12:40 am | Fair 46º

 
 
 
 

Santa Maria Hometown Heroes Program Honors Second Group

Set of banners recognizing military service to hang along South College Drive

Veteran Joseph Skoda III is recognized for his inclusion in the second class of honorees for the Santa Maria Hometown Heroes Military Banner Program. Click to view larger
Veteran Joseph Skoda III is recognized for his inclusion in the second class of honorees for the Santa Maria Hometown Heroes Military Banner Program.  (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

The second class of honorees for the Santa Maria Hometown Heroes Military Banner Program was revealed Tuesday night during the City Council meeting.

The program includes banners recognizing people who currently serve or formerly served in the U.S. military.

Banners hang on South College Drive, noting the service members’ names, pictures and branch of military.

“One of the things we want to try and do tonight is let the community recognize these individuals who have helped out in preserving our freedom,” Recreation and Parks Director Alex Posada said. 

The winter 2017 class includes Al Vierra, Marines; Dan Hoback, Navy; Fred Homann, Army; Gerhardt “Moose” Rinke, Navy; Kenneth Alvarez, Army; Ray Heath, Navy; Richard Depuy, Navy and Air Force; George Risher, Army; Joseph Skoda III, Air Force; Kelli A. Widner, Air Force; Joseph Heredia, Marines; George Crosby, Navy and Robert Morrison, Air Force.

“The purpose of the program is to remind the public of the vital service given and the sacrifices made by our local neighbors here through their military service, and to thank them for the service of protecting our freedoms,” Posada said. 

A banner from the summer 2016 class of honorees for the Santa Maria Hometown Heroes Military Banner Program hangs along College Drive. The second class of honorees was recognized during Tuesday night’s City Council meeting. Click to view larger
A banner from the summer 2016 class of honorees for the Santa Maria Hometown Heroes Military Banner Program hangs along College Drive. The second class of honorees was recognized during Tuesday night’s City Council meeting. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

While most of the honorees were people who did stints in the military and returned home, two of them paid the ultimate price. Heredia was fatally injured in Iraq and Alvarez was killed in Afghanistan.

Alvarez’s father, Ernest Alvarez, thanked the Santa Maria Elks Lodge kitchen crew for sponsoring his son’s banner and the city for organizing the program.

“It’s wonderful,” Alvarez added. 

Mayor Alice Patino said the program is important to remind younger residents about military service, including what families give up and what they go through when a loved one is deployed overseas. . 

The first class of honorees has been displayed since summer on light poles along College Drive, between Betteravaia Road and McCoy Lane.

Nominees are being accepted for the summer 2017 class of honorees. 

Names can be submitted to either the American Legion Post 56, Veterans of Foreign Wars or the Recreation and Parks Department.

Each banner costs $250, a cost paid by family or sponsors. After the banner hangs along College Drive, it will be returned to the family or sponsor as a memento. 

The summer 2016 class has 10 honorees. 

Also Tuesday night, council members re-appointed incumbents Robert Dickerson and Tim Seifert to the Planning Commission along wutg naming Tom Martinez to fill a vacancy.

For the Recreation and Parks Commission, the council appointed incumbent Laura Henderson along with Rebecca Carey and Ann Batterson.

Three incumbents — Trent Benedetti, Jack Owen Jr. and Donna Randolph — were re-appointed to the Measure U 2012 Citizens’ Oversight Committee. 

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.

The family of Kenneth Alvarez accepts a certificate for the fallen warrior’s inclusion in the winter 2017 class of honorees as part of the Santa Maria Hometown Heroes Military Banner Program. Click to view larger
The family of Kenneth Alvarez accepts a certificate for the fallen warrior’s inclusion in the winter 2017 class of honorees as part of the Santa Maria Hometown Heroes Military Banner Program. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

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