Distinguished Veterans of the Year — Johnson, Fonzi II •

Veterans’ Day Ceremony on the faces of freedom in Atasquadero

ATASCADERO – Waste. U.S. Navy Commander Ray Johnson and Reth. Lieutenant Colonel Al Fonzie II of the U.S. Army was named meritorious veteran of the year on the 13th Annual Veterans’ Day for the Liberty Person at Atasquadero.

Rhet. U.S. Navy Commander Ray Johnson, on the left, and Reth. The Mayor of Atasquadero, Heather Moreno, U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel Al Fonzie II, received an award from the U.S. Army during the celebration of Veterans’ Day on Wednesday the 11th. November, at the Liberty Person in Atasquadero the honorary title of Veteran Merit of the Year. Pictures of Brian Williams

Johnson and Fonzie II, who both call Atasquadero their home, were humbled by this honor and took the opportunity to thank their wives.

I was asked if my speech was prepared, and I answered that it was prepared, and that it consisted of only four words: Thank you, Mr. Johnson, before he made any further comments. That’s amazing. I welcome all our vets. Most of them could have been here and vouched for their actions for me.

First of all, I’d like to thank my wife, Helen. There was wind under my wings, Johnson said.

Atasquadero did not cancel or drastically change its annual tribute to veterans in connection with the Covid 19 pandemic, as some neighboring towns did. The ceremony is sponsored by the Ataskadero Veterans Remembrance Foundation. Instead of the usual ceremony, the Paso Robles moved to a cemetery in the Paso Robles district.

Mayor Atasquadero Heather Moreno introduced the honorary veterans and read about their many accomplishments in the Navy and Army and their excellent performance on their return home.

Johnson served almost 22 years before retiring in 1979. In January 1958, he enrolled as Naval Aviation Officer Cadet (NAVCAD) in the Naval Aviation Training Program in Pensacola, Florida. He got his wings and commissions in July 1959 – the same year he married his wife Helen.

In October 1966, during one of his two Vietnamese expeditions, Johnson was aboard the aircraft carrier USS Oriscani, the Mighty O, when one of the worst fires since World War II broke out when a magnesium rocket accidentally caught fire and 44 people died.

Since his retirement, Mr. Johnson has served as director of the Christian Retreat Military Center for eight years, business advisor and general chairman of the County Economic Development Corporation (EVC) for 15 years. Previously, he was Chairman of the Rotary of Atascadero and Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Chamber of Commerce of Atascadero. Johnson served on Atasquadero City Council for eight years, three years as Mayor, and is currently the longest serving member of the Gospel Chapel of Atasquadero.

It is no secret that Johnson received this honour, but the choice of Fonzie II remained silent until Moreno gave his name.

It was a surprise. I had no idea what was going on. All I can say is thank you, said Fonzie II, who recalls the service in Iraq with his son and thanks his wife. I just want to say that the hardest job in military service is to be a military wife, and I would like to express my special thanks to my wife Roberta. It’s very lonely out there, but you always know there’s someone who keeps everything inside. It was a privilege to be your husband.

Fonzie II is a retired U.S. Army lieutenant colonel and intelligence officer who has served in the military for more than 36 years, including military service and command. He began his military career in the Navy in 1969-72 and served in the U.S. Coast Guard Reserve for four years after returning home. He joined the U.S. Army in 1980 and retired in 2006.

Fonzi’s military service includes repeated combat missions in Vietnam and Iraq with various tasks during the Cold War, including service in the army’s special forces and as a liaison officer with Israeli army intelligence officers.

Since his retirement in 2006, he has worked as a consultant for SRI International, a subsidiary of Stanford University. Fonzie II is recognized by the State of California as an expert in counterterrorism, disaster relief and other national security issues.

Fonzie has several degrees, including a Master’s degree in International Relations from the University of Southern California.

The ceremony opened at the Atasquadero Memorial, where a group of about 500 people flew over the patriotic crowd at the Estrella Warbird Museum. Local radio host Dick Mason continues. Rebecca McKinley of Arroyo Grande sang the national anthem. Rhet. U.S. Army Sergeant Chris Kay provided the challenge and the blessing.

Tommy Gong and his sons, Derek and Darin, played Taps. 2814. After the Second World War SVP Hulpsocialist Sabrina Sakaguchi and JVP Ward Roney laid a ceremonial wreath at the Liberty Base. Vietnam veterans from America’s Chapter 982 and the colorful Chumash Guard presented the colors with a colorful welcome flag of the military heroes of the line.

Rhet. John Kush, a veteran of the U.S. Army and former chief of police of Ataskadero, was one of the guest speakers. He served as a helicopter gunner in Vietnam. He retired after a 31-year career in law enforcement, having been Atasquadero police chief for the last four years.

It’s good to be with the veterans today. There is a partnership that is unique, Diwan said. This is the result of experiencing many aspects of humanity that most people have never experienced before. It’s definitely something that connects you.

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