Family, friends and colleagues were in attendance at the event that took place at the Santa Barbara County Air Support Unit’s hanger in Santa Ynez.
Promoted to Sergeant:
Sheriff’s Sergeant Matt McFarlin
Sergeant McFarlin is an 18 year veteran of the Sheriff’s Office starting as a reserve deputy in 1994. He has worked as a Patrol Deputy, Narcotics Detective, Search and Rescue Coordinator and Public Safety Dispatcher. Sergeant McFarlin has also held collateral positions with the Special Enforcement Team (SWAT) and Mobile Field Force. Sergeant McFarlin has been assigned to the Coastal Bureau.
Helicopter Pilot Chris Spangenberg
Helicopter Pilot Chris Spangenberg (Former Santa Barbara County Fire Pilot) was hired with the Sheriff’s Office upon merger of the Fire and Sheriff Aviation programs, creating the Santa Barbara County Air Support Unit. Pilot Spangenberg is a Vietnam veteran that flew with the U.S. Army’s 145th Aviation Battalion. He received numerous medals while serving in the military, and in 1979 joined the Ventura Sheriff’s Office as a helicopter pilot receiving two Medals of Valor. Helicopter Pilot Spangenberg will continue using his vast experience as a pilot with the Santa Barbara County Air Support Unit.
Helicopter Pilot Robert Burris
Helicopter Pilot Robert Burris (Former Santa Barbara County Fire Pilot) was also hired with the Sheriff’s Office upon merger of the Fire and Sheriff Aviation programs. He started his aviation training in 1980 with the United States Marine Corps and flew Sikorsky CH-53 Heavy Lift Helicopters. After the Marines, Burris served as a pilot in the U.S. Coast Guard. He has received numerous commendations and Medals throughout his military career. Helicopter Pilot Burris was hired by the Santa Barbara County Fire Department in 2009 and will continue to serve the citizens of Santa Barbara as a pilot with the Santa Barbara County Air Support Unit.
Aircraft Mechanic Hector Ponce
Aircraft Mechanic Hector Ponce received his initial Aircraft Mechanic training from the United States Air Force in 1977, enabling him to work on the F-4 Phantom while serving his country. After his time in the military he worked as an Aircraft Mechanic in the private sector in Arizona and California. For the past five years Mr. Ponce has worked off and on as an Aircraft Mechanic for the Santa Barbara County Fire Department. He now joins the Santa Barbara County Air Support Unit as a full-time employee.