H-SANTA MARIA

Dec 9, 2013 7:08 PM by April Hansen, KSBY

Local soldier honored at Santa Maria Freedom Monument

The name of a local soldier who died in Afghanistan in August was added to the Freedom Monument Veterans Memorial in Santa Maria. U.S. Army Specialist Kenneth Alvarez was killed when his unit was hit by an improvised explosive device or IED. He was 23-years-old. The Santa Maria Valley Chamber of Commerce dedicated a plaque and a pear tree in honor of Alvarez at the memorial site that was unveiled in front of dozens of community members and Alvarez's loved ones. The Freedom Monument was built in 2001 to honor all veterans who have served, including those who have lost their lives. "There's an old saying that says a soldier never truly dies until he is forgotten, but I can promise you that I will never forget Kenneth Alvarez and the sacrifices he made," said 5th District Supervisor Steve Lavagnino. Family, friends and local veterans gathered together to honor a father, son and fellow brother. "This morning we come together to remember all of our Central Coast veterans that sacrificed so much to keep our country safe and to pay special tribute to Army Specialist Kenneth Alvarez," said Assemblyman Katcho Achadjian. Alvarez was born and raised in Santa Maria and after graduating from Delta High School he enlisted in the Army. "A young man from hometown in the dawn of his life volunteered to take up a weapon far from home and fight for the freedom that I sometimes take for granted," said Lavagnino. He will now be surrounded by generations of fellow service members who gave their lives for our freedom. "While I am deeply saddened another name has been added to this memorial, I am grateful that it exists and encourage us all to visit here with our children and grandchildren," said Lavagnino. So we keep the memories of our Central Coast service members alive. "May he be never be forgotten," said Lavagnino.Memorials and plaques are added every year to remember those who have served for our country. Alvarez is the 7th member of the military from Santa Maria who has been added to this memorial since 2001. Army Specialist Alvarez leaves behind a wife and small child as well as a large extended family in Santa Maria.

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