Pierre Claeyssens Veterans Foundation hosts 25th annual event in Santa Barbara
People arriving at the Military Ball were treated to the sounds of bagpipes.
After that, the sounds grew to reflect celebration and patriotism at the 25th annual Pierre Claeyssens Veterans Foundation event Saturday evening at the Hilton Santa Barbara Beachfront Resort.
The evening began with a social hour, followed by dinner, a program of speakers and dancing to The Replicas.
Lt. John Blankenship, the foundation’s co-founding director and a former member of the U.S. Navy, delivered the opening remarks.
That was followed by the posting of the colors by UCSB’s ROTC Surfrider Battalion Color Guard.
Lt. Col. Patricia Rumpza, a retired U.S. Air Force officer, led the pledge allegiance.
Then Santa Barbara Police Sgt. David Gonzales sang the national anthem at the foundation’s event.
Following an invocation by Chaplain Jerry Gray of the U.S. Air Force, the colors were retired.
Then Lt. Col. Rumpza and UCSB Cadet Daniel Keefe led the Missing Man ceremony. The third-year cadet, who’s part of the UCSB ROTC Surfrider Battalion, is a global studies major with an emphasis in Russian language and literature.
The Missing Man ceremony was followed by Sgt. Gonzales returning to sing “America the Beautiful.”
After that came several guest speakers, all of whom were former Navy SEALS. They were Marc Brakebill, Steve Terlinden and Mike Charbonnet.
The four speakers are part of Beyond the Teams, an organization that encourages former Navy SEALS and others to give back to their communities. (See beyondtheteams.org for more information.)
The evening’s patriotic theme continued with the “Salute to the Armed Services Tribute” and Lt. Blankenship’s closing remarks.
Philanthropist Pierre Claeyssens (1908-2003) started the Military Ball in 1996 to salute the Armed Forces, past and present, in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties.
According to the foundation, Mr. Claeyssens was involved with every detail of the ball during its early years. That included everything from addressing each invitation by hand to determining the seating arrangement.