By Chris Frost
Port Hueneme— It was a day to honor and remember America’s fallen heroes, May 27, as the Third Annual Memorial Day ceremony brought a big crowd to City Hall to remember and honor those who paid the ultimate price so people can live free.
Dignitaries came and spoke at the event, and the crowd enjoyed patriotic music courtesy of the Hueneme High School Band.
The event was the brainchild of Larry Downing, a Vietnam Veteran and part of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Base 3935 in Port Hueneme, who said with the Naval Base in the city, it’s crucial to have a Veteran’s Day and Memorial Day commemoration for its residents.
“We have a tremendous amount of retired veterans who live in the area,” he said. “Memorial Day is to honor the dead who fought for our country, and it’s important that people remember them. Young kids need to see there is a cost involved for the freedom we do have.”
The VFW Post was going to keep the event going after the ceremony.
“At 1 p.m. the Post is going to be providing hamburgers and hot dogs,” VFW Member and retired Air Force Lt. Colonel Clay Cowgill said. “If anybody wants to participate, come on over. Everybody is welcome if you can bring a side dish, that is great. We accept cash donations to defray the cost. It’s veterans hanging out with veterans and thanking everybody for their service.”
Mayor Will Berg said the event is exceptional and he is out to honor the 1.5 million people who sacrificed their lives defending and protecting our freedom.
“This is one of the most important remembrance days we have in this country,” he said. “Larry’s ability to pull this community together has been amazing. The event takes months to plan and organize.”
He was proud of the crowd attending.
“I was here last year and the year before, and we’ve always had a good showing at this event,” he said. “If you think about it, we are a military community with the Naval Base as our closest neighbor.”
Congresswoman Julia Brownley said the day is hugely important.
“I am honored to participate in this program today,” she said. “Today is a solemn day to remember all the fallen who sacrificed their lives. We also need to remember the families who sacrificed so much. It’s an important day.”
She is going to be part of a delegation that goes to Normandy to celebrate the 75th anniversary of D-Day.
“I’m looking forward to the trip,” she said.
Retired Navy Master Chief Jim Daniels spoke to the crowd and was proud to be a Seabee.
“I served in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam,” he said. “My father lied about my age (he was 16 years old) to get me in. It took me two months of arguing with him to get him to sign it.”
He served with many good people during World War II.
“I was so young, and they took me under their wings and taught me how to do everything,” he said. “I stayed with it. I was an equipment operator.”
Petty Officer 3rd Class Citlali Diaz carried the flag and said she enjoys the responsibilities and leadership associated with the Navy Junior Reserve Officer Training Class.
“It’s a place where I can bring out my ambition to rank up,” she said. “I’m only a freshman, so I’ll see where this path takes me.”
She loves commanding the troop on Memorial Day and honoring the veterans.
“My parents are proud me because I found something I like to do,” she said.
Retired Air Force Veteran John Adamson checked in the VIPs at the event, answered questions and made sure people had coffee.
“We’re here supporting the event, setting up and removing chairs, we’re going to move some band instruments and be here for the community,” Petty Officer 3rd Class Christopher Williams said.
He looks at the day like a remembrance.
“It’s a memorial for our service men and women who have fallen in combat for our country,” he said. “It’s from D-Day to the Green Berets who recently died in Nigeria. It’s a celebration and a way to remember them and their families.”
As he grows, he wants to serve in front line combat with either the Army or the Marines.
“This program is famous for turning out officers,” he said. “A lot of cadets get credit to go to the naval academy in Annapolis. The vast majority of cadets become officers. I’m not sure that I want to be an officer. If I do decide to become an officer; I want to do it after enlisting, so I can relate to the people I am leading better.”
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