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Burbank’s Memorial Day ceremony honors local heroes

Burbank resident Jimmy Weldon presents the American flag during Monday's Memorial Day Ceremony.

Burbank resident Jimmy Weldon presents the American flag during Monday’s Memorial Day Ceremony.

(Photo by Ross A. Benson)

The Christoffersen family of Burbank had a lot to be thankful for on Memorial Day during a ceremony in McCambridge Park.

Sons Ryan and Yuri were honored as part of the city of Burbank’s Military Service Recognition program, which honors local military personnel with individual banners that hang along Third Street and are given to the service members after they end their time in the military.

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Ryan Christoffersen was presented with his banner during the ceremony held at the war memorial in the park. He was an airman in the U.S. Navy for a year.

His mother, Karen, recalled driving down Third Street and seeing her son’s banner. “I salute it every time,” she said.

Members of the Crescenta Valley High School Air Force Junior ROTC Honor Guard performed the POW/MIA table ceremony during Monday's Memorial Day event at McCambridge Park.

Members of the Crescenta Valley High School Air Force Junior ROTC Honor Guard performed the POW/MIA table ceremony during Monday’s Memorial Day event at McCambridge Park.

(Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Yuri Christoffersen — who was in the U.S. Army for 12 years, stationed most recently at Pearl Harbor — was also honored as part of the program. However, he couldn’t make the local ceremony because he is still in Hawaii.

“Hopefully, there are more people, like me, who come home,” Ryan Christoffersen said after the ceremony. “They did their service and it’s time for them to get back into society to do more service.”

Kevin Christoffersen, another brother, was in the Army for three years until 2010.

“Three brothers serving our country, returning [home] safely,” said Mayor Jess Talamantes during the ceremony.

Burbank Veterans Committee Chairman Mickey DePalo lays a rose during Monday's Memorial Day Ceremony at McCambridge Park.

Burbank Veterans Committee Chairman Mickey DePalo lays a rose during Monday’s Memorial Day Ceremony at McCambridge Park.

(Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Military service isn’t limited to just the Christoffersen brothers. Their father, John, is a Navy veteran, and Karen Christoffersen’s late father was a Marine veteran.

Others with local ties who were honored as part of the banner program this year, but could not make the ceremony, were Adam Baumgarten, Evan Bryant, Carlos Delgado, Robert Hagstrom, Richard Perez and Ryan Welker.

U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) said those serving in the military in countries such as Iraq and Syria face dangers daily.

“In fact, when you look at the casualties we’ve suffered since the posting of our troops in Iraq, we’ve lost 16 service members since little more a year and a half ago,” he said. “Three of them have been combat related, and 13 of them have been non-combat related because of the inherent risk, the inherent danger while serving in a place like Iraq.”

The ceremony started with a flyover by the Condor Squadron and the “Armed Forces Medley” performed by the Burbank Community Band. Also, members of the Crescenta Valley High School Air Force Junior ROTC Honor Guard gave the “Presentation of Colors” and “POW/MIA Table Ceremony,” the national anthem was sung by Anna Brown from Burroughs High School and “God Bless America” was sung by Pat Walmisley, a member of the Burbank Veterans Committee.

Later, local Scouts and residents placed roses on the memorial as the names of local fallen military personnel from World War I to the current War on Terrorism were read.

A highlight of the ceremony was a flag salute by Jimmy Weldon, who will be 93 years old in September. Speaking as though he was the flag, he spoke of how Old Glory has persevered over the decades.

“I was carried through the halls of Montezumo on to the shores of Tripoli by the United States Marine Corps. I stayed with the boys until it was over over there,” he said.

Mickey DePalo, chair of the Burbank Veterans Committee, said the end of a person’s military service shouldn’t mean the end of serving others.

“A lot of my fellow men and women veterans out there, as a way of remembering all the veterans that have paid the ultimate sacrifice, I encourage all of you to get involved in your community, to volunteer, to give that great example of we’re veterans, we’re home and we want to continue to serve.” he said.

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Mark Kellam, mark.kellam@latimes.com

Twitter: @LAMarkKellam


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