On Tuesday, December 7th, at 10:00 am, the Santa Maria Valley Chamber of Commerce will be dedicating a plaque at the Freedom Monument Veterans Memorial honoring Senior Airman Daniel J. Johnson. Airman Johnson died in Kandahar, Afghanistan on October 5, 2010, from wounds suffered from an improvised explosive device in an attack on his unit. The Freedom Monument Veterans Memorial is located in front of the Abel Maldonado Youth Center at 600 S. McClelland. The community is invited and encouraged to attend.

The keynote speaker will be Bob Hatch, President/CEO of the Santa Maria Valley Chamber of Commerce and a highly decorated Vietnam Veteran. Also scheduled to make appropriate remarks will be the Mayor of Santa Maria, Larry Lavagnino, Colonel Richard Boltz, Commander of the 30th Space Wing at Vandenberg Air Force Base, and other local representatives.

The plaque honoring Daniel Johnson will be installed on the War on Terrorism Memorial, which is located within the Freedom Monument area. The unique design consists of various stones with a larger center stone, upon which is listed the names of 5 local Veterans who have died in the War on Terrorism. For the Daniel Johnson dedication, an additional large stone will be added to the memorial.

To view a flier on this special event, click here.

The Freedom Monument Veterans Memorial was built in 2001 by the Santa Maria Valley Chamber of Commerce in partnership with the City of Santa Maria. The well-landscaped monument area is prominently located in front of the Abel Maldonado Community Youth Center as a reminder of the price of freedom. Within the memorial itself are large, black granite structures, 5 of which represent each branch of the service, and a sixth which holds a dedication plaque. A fountain and a tile mural depicting an American eagle are also features of the monument. Plaques include the names of 55 Veterans who gave their lives during World War II, 5 honored from the Korean War, and a Vietnam War plaque honoring 31 Veterans. Other plaques honor John Smith, Santa Maria’s most highly decorated Veteran, and an “American Woman Veteran” plaque, honoring Santa Maria’s women Veterans. The Flagpole area contains the Order of the Purple Heart monument and the POW-MIA monument. Last year, in 2009, a Wall of Honor was dedicated, where Santa Maria’s Veteran groups are listed on tiles.

The names of all Santa Maria Veterans who died in the line of duty are listed at the Freedom Monument Veterans Memorial. It also honors all Veterans who have served and are currently serving. Each year on December 7th, Pearl Harbor Day, the Santa Maria Valley Chamber of Commerce holds a ceremony and dedicates another feature to be added to the monument.

For more information, contact the Santa Maria Valley Chamber of Commerce at (805)925-2403, ext 817 or e-mail EDC@santamaria.com