We remember and honor those residents of the Santa Ynez Valley who paid the ultimate price while in service to our country in the armed forces. On Memorial Day, May 25, 2015, American Legion Post 160 and Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 7139 dedicated a plaque to the fallen local citizens and servicemen.
Pvt Adolph Burchardi, USMC, was born in Sacramento County, California on January 15, 1895. He grew up on a family dairy in the Santa Ynez Valley. He was a combat sniper and was a casualty of an enemy sniper in France on November 7, 1918. He is buried in the Solvang Chalk Hill Cemetery.
PO 3rd Class Delbert Carter, USN, a son of Mr. and Mrs. Hugh Carter, attended Santa Ynez High School in 1940. He was one of 14 Navy prisoners of war who were executed by the Japanese firing squad on Formosa in June 19, 1945 after a perfunctory military trial. Their ashes were found in a funeral parlor.
Pvt George Downs, US Army, was born in Santa Barbara County on July 2, 1924. He grew up in Buellton, CA and graduated from the Valley High School in 1943. He and John Pedercinci were ranching partners in High School with 100 head of cattle. After high school he joined the Army and was assigned to an Anti-Aircraft Unit in Honolulu. He became ill in Honolulu and died at an Army Hospital in Modesto. He is interred in Oak Hill Cemetery.
Col Lucius Manning, US Army Air Corps, was born on August 8, 1894. He was a veteran pilot from WWI. After the war, he had several business positions including CEO of American Airlines. He established a 4000 acre Rancho Piocha east of the Santa Ynez Valley that was famous for purebred polled Herefords and Tennessee walking horses. He re-entered the Army Air Force on August 1, 1942. Col Manning was base commanding officer at the 3rd Air Force Staging Wing, Hunter Field, GA, when he died on April 11, 1944 in a crash of a B-26 Bomber in Alabama.
Capt John Melbourne, US Army Company Commander, was born in Indiana in 1917. He joined the Army in 1940 and was assigned to the 6th Amoured Division. His division was sent to Camp Cooke, now VAFB, in 1942 for advanced training and he and his family lived in Solvang. He was deployed to France on July 19, 1944 and died on September 11, 1944 when his division was fighting across France toward Germany. He is interred in the American Cemetery, St. James, Britanny, France.
Sgt George Ortega, US Army, was born in 1914 in Santa Barbara County and grew up farming near Buellton. He was the oldest of four brothers who all served in the Army. He died in heavy action on Leyte Island in the pacific fighting the Japanese 20 March 1945. He was honored with a purple heart and other citations.
2Lt John Pedercini, US Army Air Corps, was born March 11, 1933 in Santa Barbara County and was the son of Mrs. Peter Petersen. After High School, he enlisted in the Army Air Corps in 1942 and became a B-24 copilot in the 747th Bomber Squadron. His plane was shot down and crashed on a mission over Wiener-Neustadt, Austria on 10 May 1944. He was later confirmed as a casualty and was buried in the Lorraine France American Cemetery.
1st Lt Grant Schley, US Army Air Corps, was born and raised in the New England States. Becoming a pilot, he started an airline between Los Angeles between Los Angeles and Santa Barbara in 1935. In 1941, he established two ranches in the Santa Ynez Valley Happy Canyon. He joined the Air Transport Command Ferrying Division soon after the Pearl Harbor attack. He died in a B-25 Bomber crash near Exeter, CA on April 28, 1943. He was scheduled to ferry the plane to the South Pacific the next day.
ENS Herrman Burcharrdi was born in Santa Barbara County and grew up on his family’s dairy farm. He knew he would always be a pilot and after high school he joined the Navy in 1944. He was assigned to fly the AD-2 Fighter Bomber. With less than 50 hours piloting the plane, he fatally crashed into the sea during training to land on the USS Valley Forge Aircraft Carrier.
Korean War Veteran:
PFC William Valdez, US Army, was born in Santa Barbara on July 31, 1930 and grew up in the Santa Ynez Valley. He later moved to Monterey County and enlisted in the Army just before the Korean War. He was an Infrantry Tank Crewman and died in action in South Korea on August 13, 1950.
Vietnam War Veterans:
Sgt1stClass Billie Beard, US Army, was born on July 3, 1934 in McPhee, Colorado. He grew up in Lompoc and Santa Ynez and graduated from the Santa Ynez High School in 1952 and joined the Army soon after. He served in Korea and Germany before being sent to Vietnam. He died while swimming off the coast at Tuy Hoa, Vietnam on April 21, 1962.
Cpl Richard Henrey, US Army, was born on April 5, 1948 and grew up in Solvang. After attending Santa Ynez Valley High School he enlisted in the Army and became a utility helicopter repairman and crew chief. He died in South Vietnam when his helicopter crashed on a reconnaissance mission on July 28, 1967 on his second tour of duty.
SSgt John Hill, USMC Infrantry Unit Leader, was born on March 5, 1937. He grew up in the Solvang and graduated from the Santa Ynez High School in 1956. He enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1957. He died on February 14, 1969 at Quang Ngai, South Vietnam and is interred in the Golden Gate National Cemetery.
Pvt 1st Class Robert Pacheco, USMC, was born on June 15, 1948. He grew up in the Santa Ynez Valley and attended Santa Ynez High School. He died in combat at Quang Nam, South Vietnam on December 7, 1968.
Cpl David Tibbetts, US Army, was born on September 22, 1949 and grew up in the Santa Ynez Valley and graduated high school in 1967. He enlisted in the Army 1969 and was trained as a combat radio operator. He died on August 18, 1969 in Long An Province, South Vietnam.
Steven Staggers, USN, was born on April 26, 1955 and grew up in Buellton with his parents Nancy and Bob Staggers. After graduating from Santa Ynez Valley High School, he enlisted in the Navy. He died in an accident during Naval training in a helicopter crash at Camp Pendleton on March 22, 1978 and is interred in Oak Hill Cemetery.
Iraq War Veteran:
Cpl Aaron Allen, USMC, was born on May 29, 1984 and grew up in Buellton attending Jonata School and graduating from Santa Ynez Valley High School. He enlisted in the Marines in 2004 after finishing High School. He died on his second Iraq War combat tour on November 14, 2008 in Ferris, Al Anbar Province Iraq. He is honored with a memorial in Buellton on the Avenue of Flags.
Afgahistan War Veteran:
Staff Sgt Joshua Townsend, US Army Special Forces Green Beret, was born on December 3, 1978 and grew up in Solvang. He was a 1997 graduate of Santa Ynez Valley High School and enlisted in the Army in 2003. He received a Bronze Star for gallantry in combat. He died on January 16, 2009 at Fire Base Ripley, Uruzgan Province, Afghanistan. He is interred in the Solvang Chalk Hill Cemetery.