LANCASTER – John E. Allen; Ryan Clark; George Delgado; Chris D. Leon; Joseph Lopez; Matthew Ramsey, Marvin R. Sprayberry III; Ian Wesley Stewart; and Allan Walker.
Having made the ultimate sacrifice for their country, these nine men are memorialized on banners along the length of The Blvd.
A crowd of about 200 gathered at the Lancaster Performing Arts Center Tuesday to pay tribute to the nine fallen heroes, as well as dozens of other soldiers wounded in combat whose images are part of the city’s “Hometown Heroes” banner program.
“The reason for our gathering here today is to pay tribute to the life behind the banner,” said City Manager Mark Bozigian. “Whether it was in Iraqi Freedom or Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan… these young soldiers and marines exercised the full measure of service to their country.”
As the tribute ceremony began, images of the nine fallen heroes were lowered from the rafters of the stage to surround an American flag. The presentation of the colors by the Blue Eagles Honor Guard from Edwards AFB was followed by remarks from Bozigian and from AV Press Editor Dennis Anderson.
Anderson, a Cold War army veteran and the father of a marine, said war takes its toll on the combatants as well as their families.
“The toll is on the people who love them… the toll is mental, the toll is physical and the toll is spiritual,” Anderson said.
He also introduced Iraq war veteran Jerral Hancock, who was wounded on Memorial Day 2007 (his 21st birthday) and is now paralyzed. Hancock did not speak at the ceremony, but received a standing ovation from the audience.
The ceremony also featured a touching video presentation that highlighted the lives of the nine fallen servicemen through interviews with their families (see above). Featured veterans in the video include:
- SSgt Allan K. Walker, USMC
- SSG Marvin R. Sprayberry III, US Army
- Cpl Ian Wesley Stewart, USMC
- Cpl Christopher D. Leon, USMC
- Cpl Ryan Clark, US Army
- Sgt John E. Allen, US Army
- PFC George Delgado, US Army
- LCpl Joseph Lopez, USMC
- SPC Matthew Ramsey, US Army
“Let us everyday keep in prayers those that are out there still risking their lives in harms way so that we can enjoy freedoms and never forget those that have paid the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom,” said Vice Mayor Ron Smith.
The event concluded with a song by local recording artist and Chief Warrant Officer Jennifer Housholder. Housholder served two tours in Operation Iraqi Freedom where she piloted a Black Hawk helicopter. She sang “The Mission Continues,” a song she wrote from the perspective of wounded and disabled veterans.