Luncheon Remembers Veterans of The Great War in Honor of WWI 100th Anniversary

(Back row from left to right): Re-enactors from the Great War Historical Society – Philip Dye, Damian Stellabout, Fred McDowell, Ryan Doezie, Larry Dunn, Monty Van Shaw, John Harmon. (Front row from left to right): Mary Collier, Professor and Chair of French, Westmont College; James Villeneuve, Consul General of Canada; Henri Vantieghem, Consul General of Belgium; Gillian Cole-Andrews, British Army Caption Sandhurst 84 (former); Dr. Salim Yaqub, UCSB History Professor; Col. Phil Conran, USAF, ret; Lt. John Blankenship, U.S. Navy (former) & PCVF Co-Founder.  Photo by Scott Gibson.


Santa Barbara, Calif., April 24, 2017—To commemorate the veterans of the first World War and the war’s 100th Anniversary, the Pierre Claeyssens Veterans Foundation (PCVF) and the Channel City Club co-hosted a luncheon, “Over There: WWI 100 Years On,” April 12 at the Fess Parker a DoubleTree Resort by Hilton.

Following welcome comments by Brian Robertson, Channel City Club Vice President and Chairman, and Lt. John Blankenship, PCVF co-founder, Dr. Salim Yaquib, of UC Santa Barbara’s History Department gave background information on the events leading up to the war.

The luncheon featured re-enactors from the Great War Historical Society, an LA-based group that educates people about WWI through educational displays, lectures, and re-enacting battles. Re-enactors Damian Stellabott, Monty Van Shaw, Larry Dunn, and Phil Dye shared perspectives as soldiers from Britain, France, Germany and the U.S. They described the harsh realities of trench warfare and consequences of new technology in war such as the tank, machine guns, poison gas, and barbed ware.

Stellabott depicted local doughboy, John Thomas Hall, who was one of at least 61 men from Santa Barbara County who died during World War I. Private John T. Hall died in action on September 26, 1918 at the age of 31.  He was killed on the first day of the final Allied offensive of the war.  He is buried at the Santa Barbara Cemetery.

Additional comments and reflections on various countries’ perspectives on the war were provided by special guests, Henri Vantieghem, Consul General of Belgium; James Villeneuve, Consul General of Canada; Mary Collier, Professor and Chair of French at Westmont College; and Gillian Cole-Andrews, British Army Captain Sandhurst 84 (former).  Guests were introduced by Col. Phil Conran, PCVF board chair.

Because of donations from supporters of the Pierre Claeyssens Veterans Foundation, students from Anacapa School were able to attend and learn about this significant event in history.

For information on upcoming veteran events in Santa Barbara or to support events such as this one that help ensure the men and women who have served in U.S. military efforts are never forgotten, visit


About Pierre Claeyssens Veterans Foundation

Pierre Claeyssens Veterans Foundation is committed to honoring the men and women who have served in U.S. military efforts. PCVF does this by supporting veterans and active duty members, and related partner organizations, in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties as well as preserving military history and legacy. The Foundation works to uphold Pierre Claeyssen’s vision that those who have served are “Never Forgotten.”  PCVF is funded entirely by private donations. For more information, visit or call (805) 259-4394.

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