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Plaque dedication ceremony honors fallen Vandenberg Airman

SANTA MARIA, Calif.  – The Vandenberg Honor Guard posts the colors here during a plaque dedication ceremony in honor of fallen Senior Airman Daniel Johnson on Tuesday, Dec. 7, 2010. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Lael Huss)

SANTA MARIA, Calif. – The Vandenberg Honor Guard posts the colors here during a plaque dedication ceremony in honor of fallen Senior Airman Daniel Johnson on Tuesday, Dec. 7, 2010. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Lael Huss)

SANTA MARIA, Calif.  – Guest speaker, Robert Hatch, the president and chief executive officer of the Santa Maria Valley Chamber of Commerce and Visitor and Convention Bureau, spoke to the civilian, military and veterans gathered during a plaque dedication ceremony here in honor of fallen Senior Airman Daniel Johnson on Tuesday, Dec. 7, 2010. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Lael Huss)

SANTA MARIA, Calif. – Guest speaker, Robert Hatch, the president and chief executive officer of the Santa Maria Valley Chamber of Commerce and Visitor and Convention Bureau, spoke to the civilian, military and veterans gathered during a plaque dedication ceremony here in honor of fallen Senior Airman Daniel Johnson on Tuesday, Dec. 7, 2010. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Lael Huss)

SANTA MARIA, Calif. – A plaque honoring fallen Senior Airman Daniel Johnson was unveiled after a dedication ceremony here on Tuesday, Dec. 7, 2010. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Lael Huss)

SANTA MARIA, Calif. – A plaque honoring fallen Senior Airman Daniel Johnson was unveiled after a dedication ceremony here on Tuesday, Dec. 7, 2010. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Lael Huss)

SANTA MARIA, Calif.  – Col. Richard Boltz, 30th Space Wing commander, spoke during a plaque dedication ceremony here in honor of fallen Senior Airman Daniel Johnson on Tuesday, Dec. 7, 2010. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Lael Huss)

SANTA MARIA, Calif. – Col. Richard Boltz, 30th Space Wing commander, spoke during a plaque dedication ceremony here in honor of fallen Senior Airman Daniel Johnson on Tuesday, Dec. 7, 2010. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Lael Huss)

SANTA MARIA, Calif. -- The Santa Maria Valley Chamber of Commerce held a plaque dedication ceremony for a fallen Airman from Vandenberg Air Force Base at the Abel Maldonado Community Youth Center here at 10 a.m. Dec. 7.

Hundreds of people from the local communities attended the dedication ceremony to honor Senior Airman Daniel Johnson, a 30th Civil Engineer Squadron explosive ordnance disposal technician, who was killed in the line of duty in Hendu Kandahar, Afghanistan, on Oct. 5, 2010.

"Words can't adequately describe the loss felt by the men and women of Vandenberg or those of you throughout the Central Coast," said Col. Richard Boltz, 30th Space Wing commander. "Dan was truly an integral part of both our communities."

Airman Johnson died at the age of 23.

"The plaque dedicated today served not only as a constant reminder of Dan's devotion to duty and of his ultimate sacrifice," Colonel Boltz said. "It, along with the others placed here, will bear a remarkable testament of the high price of freedom."

A rock and plaque embedded with Airman Johnson's name, date and age at the time of his death, now stands in front of the youth center's Freedom Monument.

"The Freedom Monument represents a solemn commitment from our Santa Maria community to the families and friend of those deceased that we will never forget their sacrifice, and with it, a promise that we will honor all who have served our country," said Dave Cross, Santa Maria Military Affairs Committee chairman.

The Abel Maldonado Community Youth Center proved to be an appropriate location for Airman Johnson's plaque as it was where he volunteered his time as a member of the Big Brothers Big Sisters of America program and is also currently the place where his wife Kristen works.

"Raising this memorial took skill, vision and patience," said Robert Hatch, president of the Santa Maria Valley Chamber of Commerce. "It has become a fitting tribute to those who have died while in the service of their country. The monument is open and impressive, much like the United States of America. It is grand and enduring like those who have been and will be honored here."

The ceremony concluded with the playing of taps and the unveiling of Airman Johnson's plaque.