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Santa Maria honors base with Spirit of Freedom award

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- The city of Santa Maria honored the men and women of Vandenberg Air Force Base with the "Sprit of Freedom" award Aug. 9. 

More than 400 local residents attended the 87th Annual Installation and Awards Dinner of the Santa Maria Valley Chamber of Commerce and Visitor and Convention Bureau where the award was presented. 

The base received the award in recognition of the sacrifices of the servicemembers and their families in times of war and peace, and their tremendous economic impact on the local communities. 

"Given the uncertainty in the world today and in light of the sacrifices made by the men and women in uniform, it was deemed appropriate to honor and recognize those so close to our community," said Bob Hatch, president and chief executive officer of the Santa Maria Valley Chamber of Commerce. 

"The dedication and commitment by those same dedicated Airmen stationed at Vandenberg, extending the freedoms we all enjoy, served as a backdrop for our very grateful community," Mr. Hatch said. 

"It is the very least we could do," he added. 

Col. Jack Weinstein, 30th Space Wing commander, accepted the award on behalf of the Vandenberg team. 

"We currently have 20 percent of our mission support group deployed in support of the Global War on Terror," the commander said. "Receiving an award from the community lets everyone at Vandenberg know their contributions and sacrifices are noticed and appreciated." 

Vandenberg Air Force Base is the first recipient of Santa Maria's "Spirit of Freedom Award."