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City Unveils War Memorial Statue
In a well-attended Memorial Day service, Riverbank unveiled a war memorial statue Monday to join the eight bronze plaques on the wall outside the city's Community Center on Santa Fe Street.

A traditional tribute to a fallen warrior, the black granite statue represents a soldier's boots, a rifle down turned in the earth and a helmet capping the gun.

Navy Corpsman James Ray Layton of Riverbank, who was killed in action in Afghanistan last September, is the latest local serviceman commemorated on the wall. The statue was dedicated to him and local residents who have died in wars ranging from World War II to Iraq and Afghanistan.

In a touching moment, Layton's mother Nikki Freitas, standing beside his father Brent Layton, reached up to hang her son's dog tags from the statue.

"When I first met James' parents, it touched my heart to see the sacrifice this young man made for his country," said Mayor Virginia Madueno in one of several addresses by dignitaries.

"James was one of our own," she said. "To his parents, his family, his friends, I say thank you so very much for his sacrifice. Now is a time to rejoice, give thanks and pay our respects on this special day to James and all those who have served."

The statue was made through arrangements with Monschein Industries of Riverbank and Medimer Granite.

"There are no words to express the gratitude we offer for this ultimate sacrifice," added Stanislaus County Supervisor and former Riverbank mayor Bill O'Brien. "So many men and women are out there protecting this country and its freedoms. I hope we do not have to add another plaque. James was a true hometown hero."

In other parts of the ceremony, an ensemble of the US Air Force Band of the Golden West provided music, City Manager Rich Holmer led the pledge of allegiance besides giving the welcome and closing comments, Pastor Adam Lema gave the invocation, Scott Pettit presented a flag, which has flown over several US military bases in Afghanistan; and the Stanislaus Sheriff's Pipe Band played arrangements on the bagpipes.

The USAF Band of the Golden West, according to the Memorial Day program, includes six ensembles and the one that performed in Riverbank on Monday was Travis Brass. It featured six musicians, with two trumpets, a horn, trombone, tuba and percussion.