July 4th Freedom Fest to Salute and Honor Long Beach’s Military Heroes

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4th of JulyFifth District Councilwoman Gerrie Schipske and the Long Beach Hometown Heroes Project will host Freedom Fest for the Long Beach community at Rosie the Riveter Park and Interpretive Center on July 4th, located on the corner of Conant Street and Clark Avenue. The celebration is open to the public and will salute and honor Long Beach’s military heroes who have served in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

“Independence Day is a perfect day to remember that without the sacrifice of those who serve in the military, we would not be free”, says Councilwoman Schipske. “This event gives an opportunity to thank our veterans.”

Freedom Fest begins at 5 pm. The schedule includes:


  • 5:00 pm Welcome – Councilwoman Gerrie Schipske
  • 5:05 pm Presentation of Colors – Millikan Jr. ROTC Color Guard
  • 5:10 pm National Anthem – Erma Vernado
  • 5:12 pm Invocation – Bruce MacRae, Public Affairs Manager, UPS
  • 5:15 pm Bag Pipe Major Scott MacDonald, LBPD – performing Amazing Grace
  • 5:20 pm Bruce MacRae – Introduction of Speakers and special guests
  • 5:25 pm Captain Roger LaFerriere, U.S. Coast Guard
    Speaker Topic: Pioneering service of African American and minority service members who serve in the Armed Forces
  • 5:40 pm Introduction to Congressional Gold Medal honorees: Montford Point Marines, First Sergeant William McDowell, and First Sergeant Mitchell Key, and Navy Corpsmen, Robert S. Hammond
  • 5:45 pm Reading of names of 14 Long Beach Hometown Heroes who died in Iraq or Afghanistan
    – Lt. Col. Angel Ortiz, U.S. Army National Guard
  • 5:55 pm Taps performed by Lee Seltzer, Rock for Vets
  • 6:00 pm Speaker: U.S. Naval Commander Stephen M. Ruggiero
    Topic: National; Pride on July 4th
  • 6:15 pm Concluding Remarks – Councilwoman Gerrie Schipske
  • 6:25 pm God Bless America – Erma Vernado


  • 6:30 pm Live Concert by The Emperors (Popular group of Long Beach)
  • 8:30 pm Event ends

Speakers Commander Stephen M. Ruggiero  and U.S. Coast Guard Captain Roger LaFerriere:

Commander Ruggiero was awarded the Bronze Medal, the country’s fourth-highest award for bravery, heroism and meritorious service during Operation Enduring Freedom, as the Afghanistan Border Military Coordinator with the Border Management Task Force, United States Forces Afghanistan, from March 27 to October 21, 2011. Captain Roger LaFerriere is currently the Commander of the Coast Guard Sector Los Angeles/Long Beach Port, and leads the Coast Guard’s security, safety and environmental protection activities from Morro Bay South to Newport Beach, California.

The Montford Point Marines  will receive Congressional Gold Medal Honors from President Barack Obama in Washington DC on June 27th. Councilwoman Schipske will specifically honor their service as having been part of 20,000 African Americans to enlist in a segregated Marine Corps during World War II. The three World War II Veterans reside in Long Beach.

The 14 Long Beach Hometown Heroes who gave their lives in service to our country include:

US Army 1st Class Stephen A. Castellano
Died: January 28, 2005 in Mosul, Iraq

US Army Major Steven Hutchison
Died: May 10, 2009 in Basra, Iraq

US Army Sergeant Randy D. Collins
Died: May 24, 2005 from injuries suffered in Mosul, Iraq

US Army Private 1st Class Lyndon A. Marcus, Jr.
Died: May 3, 2004 in Khalis (near,) Iraq

US Army Sergeant Anthony J. Davis, Jr.
Died: April 23, 2005 in Mosul, Iraq

US Army Specialist Roberto L. Martinez Salazar
Died: February 4, 2006 in Mosul, Iraq

US Army Sergeant Israel Garcia
Died: July 13, 2008 in Wanat, Afghanistan

US Army Specialist Astor A. Sunsin-Pineda
Died: May 2, 2007 in Baghdad, Iraq

US Army Private Ernesto R. Guerra
Died: July 29, 2005 in Baghdad, Iraq

US Army Private 1st Class David T. Toomalatai
Died: January 27, 2007 in Taji, Iraq

US Airforce Staff Sergeant Andrew W. Harvell
Died: August 6, 2011 in Wardak province, Afghanistan

US Marine Corps Private 1st Class George D. Torres
Died: April 11, 2004 in Anbar province, Iraq

US Army Staff Sergeant Joshua R. Whitaker
Died: May 15, 2007 in Qalat, Afghanistan

Marine Corps Lance Corporal Veashna Muy
Died: June 23, 2005 in Fallujah, Iraq

For more information on Freedom Fest, please contact the Offices of Councilwoman Gerrie Schipske at (562) 570-6932, or by email at district5@longbeach.gov.

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