Chandler dedicates magnificent memorial to veterans

Chandler dedicates magnificent memorial to veterans

By Ken Sain, Editor-in-chief

Chandler’s Vietnam War veteran Julia Roberts didn’t see him at first.

She was not the only one of the hundreds who visited on November 11 for the debut of the Memorial of the veterans of the Field of Honor of the city and could not see that the light boxes on the ground actually formed the image of the American flag.

The inauguration took place in the late afternoon and daylight tended to obscure the visual impact of the light boxes.

“This is really going to catch you at night,” said Ed McCoy, the project supervisor for the team that built the memorial at Veterans Oasis Park.

If you could see the light boxes from above, you would probably see the drawing right away: In the upper left corner there are 50 super tall light boxes. The rest of the field is filled with seven rows of small light boxes.

When illuminated at night, it is easier to see that the American flag was the inspiration for the design.

And that’s not the only flag incorporated into the design. The Arizona flag is the inspiration for the area of ​​the plaza, where there is a giant star where people can gaze at the terrain and alternate rays embedded in the concrete.

Mayor Kevin Hartke and all members of City Council were on hand for the grand opening, which began with a flyby of two Blackhawk helicopters. Hartke explained how the design touched on the themes chosen for this memorial: freedom, recognition, reflection, sacrifice, memories and family.

“I think it’s great,” said Roberts, who was a clerk at Naval Station Norfolk in Virginia. “Been here a few times, checking the progress, it looks nice.”

Community Services Planning Director Mickey Ohland said the light boxes will be on every night from dusk until 10:30 p.m. Although the city has purchased 21 different LED screens for these housings, most nights they will just be lit in white.

Ohland said they will save the others for special occasions.

The seals of the six branches of the army are displayed on the walls facing the rows of light boxes. Most light boxes are about 3 feet tall, but 21 of them are “buried” about 2 feet, so only one foot is above the ground. They represent a 21-gun salute for those who have paid the ultimate price.

There is a path around the memorial with 13 exhibits honoring Chandler’s contributions to the military history of the United States. Ohland says there is room for more in the future. Ohland said officials at the Chandler Museum had chosen who would be honored along this path.

The honorees are Sgt. Zora Folley, Lieutenant Arthur E. Price, Captain Lorraine Ball-Schwarzwald, Staff Sgt. Eulogio “Lefty” Soto, GM2 Carlos Lapaglia and Cpl. Ira Hayes.

Folley earned five service stars and a Purple Heart while fighting in the Korean War. After the war he became a boxer who fought Muhammad Ali.

Price was a lawyer who fought in World War I. He became one of the city’s founders upon his return.

Ball-Schwarzwald was a Chandler High School graduate who spent two years in active service at the end of the Vietnam War. Soto enlisted in World War II after his sophomore year at Chandler High. He then served with the occupation force in Japan.

LaPaglia served on the USS Indianapolis in WWII and survived that ship’s sinking and flotation for days in shark infested waters.

Hayes was from the Gila River Indian community and is one of the Marines pictured in the famous photo of an American flag hoisted over Iwo Jima.

There are other exhibits paying homage to Chandler’s role in the history of Williams Air Force Base, the town’s previous war memorials, and the Saber Dog Jet that has been part of the town’s landscape for 60 years.

Overlooking the entire grounds is this Saber Dog jet, which has been moved to this memorial from his old home on Delaware Street and Chandler Boulevard.

“Unbelievable, it’s unbelievable,” said Dasmond Richards, a Phoenix resident who served in the Marines. “I came here today to visit the park, we didn’t realize that today was the… grand opening of the commemorative part. To be here, right now, especially today, is a good thing, it’s amazing.

Darius Thweatt-Richards, a resident of Gilbert who served in the Air Force said he liked the memorial as is.

“I wouldn’t change a thing,” he said. “It’s something they did for the veterans.

Chandler dedicates magnificent memorial to veterans

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