By Bonnie Carroll
The entrance to the Fess Parker Hotel was decorated with vintage WWII vehicles, tanks, and jeeps welcoming guests to the 2015 celebration of Veterans Day at the Pierre Claeyssens Veterans Foundation 20th Annual Military Ball, where John Blankenship, Executive Director, U.S. Navy Pilot 1965-70, opened the program by welcoming the men and women in uniform and supporters of the Pierre Claeyssens Foundation to the Military Ball. The evening program included a video history of “Lucky Pierre” Pierre Claeyssens (1909-2003), the USMC posting of the colors, followed by the Pledge of Allegiance and the National Anthem sung by David Gonzales, former SBPD.
Brig. General Frederick Lopez, USMC 1967-98 (Ret.), a Pierre Claeyssens board member, read a letter of celebration on the 240th birthday of the United States Marine Corp. The United States Marine Corps Birthday is celebrated every year on 10 November. On that day in 1775, the Continental Marines were established. Always in years past the Marine Corp Anthem, along with that of all the branches of the armed services had been sung at the ball, with audience participation. I found it strange that the Marine Corp Hymn was not sung, especially considering the 240th Marine birthday being celebrated.
David Gonzales was only allowed to sing the first verse of the National Anthem, however, dancing and a party atmosphere seemed to be the primary focus at this year’s ball, and The Art Deco Orchestra brought a younger sound to the event, which appeared to please all the young men and women in uniform and their dates, who were being hosted by the foundation.
Local Air Force Captain Jonathan “JJ” Golden was honored at the Military Ball during the Missing Man ceremony. He was killed in Afghanistan on October 2nd 2015. Golden grew up in Camarillo and was based at Dyess Air Force Base outside Abilene, Texas. He served six tours in Iraq and is survived by his wife Danielle, daughter Lillian, son Elijah, mother, father and two older brothers. Five Firefighters, including Golden’s brothers ran in the Marathon to honor him, and 60 plus Ventura and Santa Barbara Firefighters and first responders, including his brothers marched in the Veterans parade as a tribute to him.
The Fess Parker Executive Chef and his staff presented a delicious steak and scallop dinner with fresh asparagus and au gratin potato as a main course that was a highlight of the evening from salad to an exquisite dessert. The dining room was lined with Country flags, which were hung around the ceiling of the ball room, and the red, white and blue flower table centerpieces with little American flags were a perfect touch.
The 2015 ball was preceded by a marathon on Saturday morning that started at UCSB and finished at Ledbetter Beach, and on Sunday locals lined the route up State Street for the annual parade honoring our Veterans. Past, present and future Veterans marched and rode in vintage vehicles as families and friends waved flags. The final formation flyover “The Missing Man” held on Sunday afternoon was a salute to all those who have died in service to our country. It was reported to be the largest flyover PCVF has ever presented.
The Veteran’s weekend finale was a free concert of patriotic classics from the Westmont Orchestra presented at Fess Parker, Plaza del sol, Outdoor Pavilion.
Thank you to all who have served and those continuing to keep our Country safe. God Bless America! For additional information visit PCVF.org.
Fess Parker Hotel Ball Entrance
John Blankenship, Executive Director PCVF, U.S. Navy Pilot 1965-70
Brig. General Frederick Lopez, USMC 1967-98 (Ret.) and Mrs. Lopez
David Gonzales, Former SBPD
Jonathan “JJ” Golden, Air Force Captain
Mo McFadden, PCVF PR Consultant
Prime Time Band at Veterans Parade
Sons of the American Revolution
Decorated Vintage Cars
SB Fire Department