American flags lined the roads in the Santa Barbara Cemetery Wednesday morning, waving gently in the breeze for several moments before an oscillating wave of sound could be heard, breaking the silence surrounding the crowd that had gathered there.
The heavy constant beating of helicopter propellers became louder and louder as the UH-1 Huey, operated the Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Department and the same type of aircraft used through the Vietnam War, made its way closer to the group there to observe Veterans Day.
When the helicopter eventually came over the tree line and the crowd below, the noise of the propellers prompted Emcee Kevin Hagerdorn, who served in the Army’s 75th Ranger Regiment for five years and spent four years in the reserves, to recall how wonderful that sound would be to his own ears after a three week mission in Iraq or Afghanistan, when aircraft would lower to take the men to safety and respite.
Hagerdorn now works as the coordinator for veteran and military services at UCSB, and was on hand Wednesday to help honor veterans in an event hosted by the Santa Barbara Veterans of Foreign Wars and Pierre Claeyssens Veterans Foundation.
The service honored all veterans and also paid special homage to Vietnam veterans, as recognition of the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War.
The U.S. Marine Corps Color Guard was on hand to present the colors, after which U.S. Army Capt. Joe Danely spoke, reminding the audience of the history of Armistice Day, when the treaty to end World War I was signed on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month in 1918.
“We honor all veterans, those who served in combat or peacetime,” he said.
Danely also spent a moment thank the families of veterans in the audience, who worked diligently to maintain the home front “while their veterans were protecting us.”
He encouraged the audience to support a responsive VA, support organizations like Wounded Warriors and to vote for policies and candidates that would support the military.
Several speakers at Wednesday’s event also remembered former U.S. Army Capt. Bob Trimble, who was killed on Oct. 19 after his single engine plane went down near Palm Springs.
Trimble had been flying to the Palm Springs Air Museum to donate various aviation and military related memorabilia along with passenger Terri Day and were returning to Santa Barbara at the time of the crash.
Trimble had served two tours in Vietnam and had received multiple awards for valor, including a silver star, five bronze stars and two purple hearts.
“Bob was a patriot and hero and he will be missed,” Danely said.
Veteran Chris Bellingham also spoke, and has served two tours in Afghanistan as a combat medic attached to an infantry unit, and said he decided to join the Army after seeing the second plane crash into the World Trade Center Tower.
“My father looked over at me and said ‘This is your Kennedy moment,’” he recalled.
Bellingham recounted learning that a fellow combat medic had recently committed suicide, and called on all veterans of all generations to support each other as they navigate life.