Tuesday, May 22 , 2018, 1:47 am | Fair 53º


Local News

Signs to Mark Highway 101 as Purple Heart Trail

Santa Barbara, Ventura counties join forces to honor veterans who have been injured or killed in action

People traveling Highway 101 will soon have reminders of the sacrifice made by those injured or killed in combat, and signs designating the highway a Purple Heart Trail will be popping up in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties after a Veterans Day unveiling.

Officials and veterans gathered to remember and unveil the signage Monday at Rincon Beach Park in Carpinteria, where people walked to the beach and repaired surf boards just yards from where a group of Purple Heart veterans had gathered in their satin jackets with medals pinned to their chests.

A Purple Heart is an award given to those who have been wounded or killed during their service in the military.

The signs marking Highway 101 in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties will complete 240 continuous miles of the trail, which extends from Monterey through Ventura County.

Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson authored the resolution that was passed this year, allowing the signage to be put up in the counties.

She said it was essential that there be a visual reminder of the sacrifice of those such as U.S. Army Spc. Kenneth Alvarez, 23, of Santa Maria, who was killed in Haft Asiab, Afghanistan, in August.

Alvarez died after his unit was attacked with an improvised explosive device during a combat mission.

Jackson remembered Alvarez, and told the Purple Heart recipients in the audience "you are deeply appreciated."

There are more than 500 purple heart recipients in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties, according to Ventura County Supervisor Kathy Long.

Michael Cook, commander of the Military Order of the Purple Heart-Chapter 750, speaks Monday during a ceremony to add Highway 101 in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties to the Purple Heart Trail. (Lara Cooper / Noozhawk photo)

In July of last year, Long brought the item before the supervisors, and Jackson carried the bill in the state Senate.

Santa Barbara County First District Supervisor Salud Carbajal also spoke, and said he found out that the counties were trying to do similar things with the trail and joined efforts last year.

"It's so fitting that on Veterans Day we're celebrating this extraordinary effort on behalf of both counties," he said.

Jackson said that many items that come before the Legislature are met with political ambivalence.

But with this bill, "there is no ambivalence," she said, adding that the nearly unanimous vote sends a strong statement in support of the area's veterans.

The Point Mugu Sea Cadets of the Ventura County Naval Base were also on hand for the presentation of colors. 

Michael Cook, commander of the Military Order of the Purple Heart-Chapter 750, also spoke.

At a time when fewer and fewer people know veterans who have served, it's key that the trail be used to remind those who have been untouched by that sacrifice, Assemblyman Das Williams said.

To those who would ask what a Purple Heart is, Williams said he hopes the sign will be used to prompt them to find out.

"This is something the people of our nation desperately need," he said.

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper 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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