On the morning of Thursday, July 1, hundreds gathered to remember Sean Daniel Fleming, a 32-year-old Vandenberg firefighter who was reported missing on June 19.
Fleming was last seen kayaking off the Gaviota Coast. A search party was deployed for five days, after which only his backpack and kayak were recovered.
The service was held at Our Lady of Assumption Church in Ventura. A line of fire trucks — with city crests from Ventura to San Luis Obispo — lined the parking lot’s periphery, and left of the church aisle were seated hundreds of servicemen.
The memorial reflected the presence of the firefighter community, as well as Fleming’s love of the ocean; his chief recalled Fleming’s valiance, and the priest sermonized of Jesus calming the storm-tossed sea. Words from Fleming’s father, brother, and cousin recalled summers of water-skiing, as well as Fleming’s love and commitment for firefighting. He had been assigned to the Vandenberg AFB Fire Department for 12 years.
The ceremony lasted about an hour and a half, after which, preceded by bagpipe players, Fleming’s family — including his parents, brother, and two sisters — collected in front of the church. Following the ceremony, there was an procession and wreath ceremony at the Ventura Pier.
“Losing Sean will forever impact the Vandenberg AFB Fire Department and the base as a whole,” said. Col Richard Boltz, 30th Space Wing commander.