President’s Letter – May 24, 2017

President’s Letter – May 24, 2017

Dear Esteemed Rotarians,
My warmest wishes to you all this Memorial Day.  As a combat veteran, I am always moved on this day by the great sacrifices made over the last 241 years to create and defend this great country.  During my 19+ months in Vietnam, I realized that politics, religion, wealth and power meant nothing. Caring for each other was our primary objective, and our major priority was making sure all the guys we worked with went home in an airplane seat and not in an airvac or a box.
Last Friday we were honored to hear from four veterans.  Captain James Carberry was a missile officer at Vandenberg Air Force Base.  Missiles from Vandenberg saved the lives of many ground troops in Vietnam.
We also heard from Major Robert Dibley, who was assigned to various positions in several British Army Regiments over fifteen years.  He provided exceptional leadership to young men and women under his command, many of whom continue to serve in Her Majesty’s military to this day.
We heard from Captain Dennis Petersen, who served in a US Marine Corps combat unit and fought serious combat battle in Vietnam.  He earned two purple hearts and numerous other service medals and commendations.
I spoke of my experiences as a Staff Sargent serving in the 37th Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Squadron  and with the 38th and 39th  squadrons fighting the Battle for Ke Shanh. This battle dragged on from January to July 1968, resulting in the death or wounding of countless men and women. The TET offensive took place simultaneously, from January to September 1968.  The experiences of this war changed me forever. Having suffered severe PTSD from 1969-1975, surviving only with a lot of love and support, I am passionate about the plight of our veterans today.  Many of these men and women have returned from horrendous battles in the Middle East suffering from severe PTSD. I am dedicated to providing support to these returning veterans in whatever way I can. Freedom is not Free – somebody has paid a very heavy price for it.  Please give the significance of Memorial Day your serious consideration this year.
We are DARK this Friday for the long Memorial Day weekend.
Next week we are again in session and are honored to have JOE PASTERNACK, UCSB Basketball coach, as our speaker. Joe Pasternack (born April 15, 1977) is the current head coach of the UC Santa Barbara Gauchos, having been appointed to the position in March 2017. Pasternack served for four years (2007-11) as the head coach of the New Orleans Privateers. The University of Arizona hired Pasternack in 2011, and promoted him to Associate Head Coach of the Wildcats in 2013. In his six seasons with the team, their record was 174-47.
I again ask you to kindly consider bringing a guest.
Warm regards,
James N. Stretchberry
Rotary Club of Santa Barbara
Club President
 

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