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Atascadero honors World War II fighter on Veterans Day

Veterans Day was commemorated at numerous events across San Luis Obispo County on Wednesday, including the celebration held at the Faces of Freedom Veterans Memorial at Atascadero Lake Park.

It was the first time in 40 years that the event was not held at the Atascadero Cemetery. The first Distinguished Veterans Award was presented to World War II veteran Ernie Porter, 90, an Atascadero native.

He was drafted into the Army in 1944 and was sent to the Pacific theater as a member of the 184th Infantry Regiment of the 7th Infantry Division. Porter was part of the planned invasion of Japan, and was wounded on Okinawa.

This week also marks the first anniversary of the memorial, which was unveiled Nov. 8, 2008. Black granite-paneled walls are inscribed with the names of service members who died serving their country, and an 8-foot sculpture by artist Mark Greenaway depicts soldiers from World War I to the Iraq war.

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