Hundreds from the community came together on Monday for a ceremony honoring fallen American service men and women at Pines Park in Capistrano Beach 

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By Andrea Papagianis

Remembering the men and women who lost their lives in service to their country, the city of Dana Point and the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Post 9934, hosted a Memorial Day ceremony on Monday.

“The half-staff position symbolizes the more than one million men and women who gave their lives in sacrifice to their country,” said Col. Michael Moore, commander of the Marine Aircraft Group 39, and keynote speaker at the event.

“Then at noon, their memory is raised, as we resolve to not let their sacrifice be in vain, and to continue to fight for liberty and justice for all.”

In a symbolic military honor, four battle cross tributes—comprised of combat boots, a rifle and helmet—were placed overlooking the bluffs at Pines Park in Capistrano Beach. As members of the VFW read the names of five fallen service members, Marines with MAG 39, placed dog tags on the rifles and saluted their comrades.

“Spc. Prescott,” read Chaplain Maurice Hansen.

“No answer,” replied Pete Hammer.

“Spc. Brandon Prescott.”

“No answer.”

“Spc. Brandon Joseph Prescott.”

“No answer.”

Army. Spc. Brandon Prescott, from Dana Point, and four others were killed on May 4 while on a mission in southern Afghanistan. The five soldiers killed were assigned to the 1st Battalion, 36th Infantry, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division at Fort Bliss, Texas. They deployed in December on a nine-month mission.

Prescott, 24, was posthumously honored with six medals, including the Bronze Star, Purple Heart, Good Conduct Medal, NATO Campaign Ribbon, Afghan Campaign Ribbon and War on Terrorism Service Medal. On May 18, friends and family gathered at Saddleback Church to remember Prescott. His ashes were later buried at sea.

“Freedom isn’t free,” Moore said. “In fact, it is only possible because of our fallen heroes.”

While honoring those who gave the ultimate sacrifice, Moore highlighted that the country is still at war, and thanked those currently serving for their dedication.

The Memorial Day commemoration marked retired Marine Col. Joseph Snyder’s last official ceremony as commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 9934. Current post chaplain, Maurice Hansen is set to take over command.

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