By Raiza Giorgi


Memorial Day services were very different this year as the COVID-19 restrictions still in place recommended against gatherings. The VFW Post 7139 and American Legion Post 160 still honored the memory of Santa Ynez Valley servicemen and women by inviting veterans to help place the American flags on the more than 900 graves of those who gave their service, according to Alvin Salge, commander of the VFW Post 7139.

“We asked that everyone have a moment of silence at noon on Memorial Day to honor all the fallen veterans,” he said. 

American flags are prominent at Oak Hill Cemetery as there are many who have passed that have served in all branches of the military in all wars and conflicts.
Photo by Allan Jones

There were no cemetery ceremonies on Memorial Day; however, the Solvang Park and Veterans Memorial Hall American flags were lowered to half-staff. 

The Santa Ynez Valley Elks Lodge placed a wreath at the bottom of the flagpole to honor those who sacrificed. 

The Flat Fender Friends, with their jeeps and military vehicles, and American Legion and VFW members trekked from Solvang Park through all the towns of the valley, and a loop around Oak Hill Cemetery in Ballard. 

“We had a convoy of about eight jeeps with the flag flying and music playing,” said Dennis Beebe, founder of the Flat Fender Friends. “Just because we can’t have a large gathering doesn’t mean we can’t honor them.” 

The Memorial Day remembrance includes a 229-year span in some 60 military actions that claimed 1.4 million lives. Sacrifice is meaningless without remembrance.

“America’s collective consciousness demands that all citizens be aware of and recall on special occasions the deaths of their fellow countrymen during and after wartime,” Salge said. “All valley veterans, residents and their families should honor veterans on this hallowed day.” 

Some of the known veterans from the Santa Ynez Valley who died in combat or during war time are Adolph Burchardi, U.S. Marines, World War I; George Downs, U.S. Army, World War II; Lucius Manning, U.S. Army Air Corps, WWII; Delbert Carter, U.S. Navy, WWII; John Melbourne, U.S. Army Cmdr., WWII; John Pedercini, B24 bomber pilot, WWII; George Ortega, U.S. Army Sgt., WWII; Grant Schley, Air Transport, WWII; Hermann Burchardi, U.S. Navy, WWII; William Valdez, U.S. Army, Korea; Billie Beard, U.S. Army, Korea; John Robert Hill, U.S. Marine, Vietnam; Richard Henrey, U.S. Army, Vietnam; David Tibbetts, U.S. Army, Vietnam; Steven Staggers, U.S. Navy, Vietnam; Robert Pacheco, U.S. Marine, Vietnam; Aaron Allen, U.S. Marine, Iraq and Joshua Townsend, U.S. Army Special Forces Green Beret, Afganistan.