SMC Police Capt. Ray Bottenfield, left, with Sgts. Jere Romano and Mark Kessler

SMC Police Capt. Ray Bottenfield, left, with Sgts. Jere Romano and Mark Kessler

Officers honored one year after Santa Monica College shootings

City and campus police officers who responded to last year’s shooting rampage that culminated at Santa Monica College were recognized for exemplary service during the Santa Monica Police Dept.’s biennial awards ceremony on May 21.

A year ago Saturday, roving 23-year-old gunman John Zawahri killed five people and injured several others before being shot dead by police at the college.

Santa Monica College Police Capt. Raymond Bottenfield, who was off-duty when he responded to the campus shootings, received a medal of valor.

On the day of the shooting, Bottenfield and SMCPD Sgts. Mark Kessler and Jere Romano —who each received medals of courage during the ceremony — evacuated students from a counseling center en route to exchanging gunfire with Zawahri at the college library.

“My only thought was to get those kids out of the way.  We just gathered them up and got them out of there,” Kessler recalled.

Along the way Bottenfield encountered his friend Margarita Gomez, a fixture on the campus who arrived daily to collect bottles and cans for recycling and was killed by Zawahri.

Some of Gomez’s surviving family members attended the ceremony and praised Bottenfield as a hero.

“I believe that God was with Ray that day,” Bottenfield’s wife, Cindy Bottenfield, said.

— Susan Courtright

Kids speak up for the ocean at Dockweiler

Los Angeles-area students stood together on Dockweiler State Beach last month to send a giant text message on behalf of the Pacific Ocean.

More than 4,000 students spoke up for the ocean during the 21st annual Kids Ocean Day in Playa del Rey

More than 4,000 students spoke up for the ocean during the 21st annual Kids Ocean Day in Playa del Rey

“CLEAN ME UP :)” reads that message, created by some 4,000 students who arranged themselves in a pattern on the sand for the aerial photo op during the 21st annual Kids Ocean Day Adopt-A-Beach Clean-Up.

“Kids Ocean Day is about connecting kids to the beaches and ocean. Our goal is to take the powerful message of personal responsibility to the world,” said organizer Michael Klubock, who started the Malibu Foundation for Environmental Education.

“The kids are becoming aware of the impact their actions have on the ocean. They see that plastic trash and litter is under the surface of the ocean and entering our food chain. They are learning that what starts with us ends up in the ocean,” Klubock said.

For more information about the program, visit

— Gary Walker

Flight Path Learning Center presents service awards

In a May 29 ceremony along its Aviation Walk of Fame on Sepulveda Boulevard, Westchester’s Flight Path Learning Center & Museum honored four men and one organization for significant contributions to aviation.

The Walk of Fame and its aviation rotunda at the corner of La Tijera Boulevard recently received upgrades that included a new Honorary Service Wall at the corner of Howard B. Drollinger Way.

The Honorary Service Wall celebrates community leaders whose work contributed to the advancement and preservation of aviation culture or improved quality of life in and around Los Angeles International Airport.

Last Thursday marked the induction of its first four honorees: Howard B. Drollinger, who was a key developer of the Sepulveda gateway to LAX after serving as a combat plane navigator in World War II; John A. Garstka, an Air Force veteran who taught at Loyola Marymount University and had served as the museum’s chief financial officer; David Tallichet, an aviation historian and collector who operated a chain of restaurants that included The Proud Bird; and the Bob Hope USO at LAX, which provides hospitality and services for military service members being deployed through the airport.

“These [awards] are for people who have a background in aviation and aerospace, but more than that they’re developers, they’re educators, they’re community leaders,” said Nancy Kier, the museum’s corporate secretary and chair of its Awards and Beautification Committee.

William R. Tallichet, son of David Tallichet, said his father had been dedicated to preserving the history of military aviation, collecting and restoring more than 250 vintage World War II aircrafts for public display.

“His legacy is really in those planes in 32 different air museums, memorial groups and veterans groups around the country,” Tallichet said.

Joseph “Tym” Tymczyszyn, an FAA test pilot of military fighter planes and early commercial jets who had lived in Westchester, was inducted into the Walk of Fame.

— Joe Piasecki

LAX Chamber backs more time for airfield analysis

The LAX Coastal Chamber of Commerce, which last year backed a controversial proposal to move Los Angeles International Airport’s north runway closer to Westchester and Playa del Rey, this year called on airport officials to increase the public comment period for an environmental review of the project.

While that doesn’t signal a change of heart, “It is important that the community understand all the details of this proposal,” LAX Chamber President Christina Davis said.

The airport’s plan to relocate the runway contemplates development on Westchester Parkway from Sepulveda East Way in Westchester to Pershing Drive in Playa del Rey and additional open space in the area.

Many residents have lodged objections to the proposal, which is opposed by the Neighborhood Council of Westchester – Playa, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and L.A. City Councilman Mike Bonin.

The comment period for the environmental review began on May 16 and runs through July 16, according to the Los Angeles World Airports website,

— Gary Walker