Command Sergeant Major Scott Witt honored as guest speaker

PASO ROBLES — The Paso Robles District Cemetery welcomed the community onto its grounds for Memorial Day on Monday, May 27. The cemetery began its memorial ceremonies in 1980 when patriotic District Cemetery board members wanted to honor veterans on Memorial Day and Veterans Day.

“The key is still to remember those people that have given up their lives and the people that are currently serving to protect our country and that are willing to do the service,” explained Commander of American Legion Post 50, Paso Robles Chris Rohrberg. “They say there’s only a 1 or 2 percent of the whole nation that actually serves in the military nowadays. And quite a few people seem to have a certain animosity towards service members. But I think remembering and understanding what it entails, what military service entails, not only for the service member but also for the families.”


Each year, the Paso Robles District Cemetery Board of Trustees handpicks guest speakers for the ceremony. This year itwas San Luis Obispo County District 1 Supervisor John Peschong and Command Sgt. Maj. Scott Witt.

Peschong said few words and recited some passages from the Gettysburg Address — the well-known speech by U.S. President Abraham Lincoln delivered during the Civil War at the dedication of the Gettysburg National Cemetery (known then as the Soldier’s National Cemetery).

“It was a beautiful ceremony,” Peschong told Paso Robles Press. “And it was a great turnout. It was inspiring to see that many people there.”

Witt enlisted in the United States Army on Dec. 28, 1987, and served as a petroleum specialist with 2/32nd Armor Battalion in Kirchgoens, Germany. He served as the California Army National Guard sergeant major for three years. He recently retired from the military a few years ago and moved to Paso Robles.

Rohrberg went to Iraq with Witt in 2011, and explained why Witt was chosen as a guest speaker: “His position as beingthe senior enlisted adviser for the California Army National Guard, especially now with as many deployments as we’vedone in the last 20 years. He was with the Guard for almost 34 years, so he has a pretty long and expensive experience with them.”

A veteran himself, Rohrberg was the Master of Ceremonies at the cemetery’s Memorial Day service. Alongside guest speakers, the Pledge of Allegiance was led by the Boy Scouts Troop 92, and patriotic songs were sung by the Cuesta Concord Chorus. Leading up to Memorial Day, volunteers come out to display small American flags at each veteran’sgrave in the cemetery. 

Rohrberg also noted the importance of holding the ceremony in a cemetery is to honor those killed in military service.

“I’m a 30-year military veteran, so I’ve lost people both in war and then also after they’ve come back. And that’s one of the things we touched upon is that a lot of the the veterans that have come back are still fighting some of their battles and aren’t always successful in winning,” explained Rohrberg. “We’ve lost quite a few. The veteran suicide is way, way up. They’re still saying we average about 22 veterans that commit suicide every day, which is astronomical.”

There are many veteran organizations in San Luis Obispo County and many in North County itself. There is an American Legion in Paso Robles, Templeton and San Luis Obispo, a Veteran of Foreign War (VFW) in Paso Robles and Atascadero. There is a satellite office for the county’s veteran services at the Paso Robles Veteran Center. 

To find more information on SLO County veteran services, visit

Featured Image: An honor guard pauses at a gravesite in the Paso Robles District Cemetery during the Memorial Day Ceremony. Photos by Derek Luff