Chandler dedicates stunning memorial to veterans - SanTan Sun News SanTan Sun News

Chandler dedicates stunning memorial to veterans

November 21st, 2021 SanTan Sun News
Chandler dedicates stunning memorial to veterans
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Chandler dedicates stunning memorial to veterans

By Ken Sain, Staff Writer

Vietnam War veteran Julia Roberts of Chandler didn’t see it at first.

She wasn’t the only one among the hundreds who turned out Nov. 11 for the debut of the city’s Field of Honor Veterans Memorial and couldn’t see that the light boxes on the field actually formed the image of the American flag.

The dedication occurred in late afternoon, and daylight tended to obscure the visual impact of the light boxes.

“It’s really going to grab you at night,” said Ed McCoy, the project supervisor for the crew that built the memorial at Veterans Oasis Park.

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

When lit up at night, it is easier to see the U.S. flag was the inspiration for the design.

And it’s not the only flag incorporated into the design. The Arizona flag is the inspiration for the plaza area, where there is a giant star where people can overlook the field and alternating rays built into the concrete.

Mayor Kevin Hartke and all the members of the City Council were there for the dedication, which began with two Blackhawk helicopters flying overhead. Hartke explained how the design touched upon the themes chosen for this memorial: Freedom, Recognition, Reflection, Sacrifice, Memories and Family.

“I think this is great,” said Roberts, who served as a clerk at the Norfolk Naval Station in Virginia. “I’ve gone past here a couple of times, checking progress, looks nice.”

Community Services Planning Manager Mickey Ohland said the light boxes will be lit up each night from dusk until 10:30 p.m. While the city has purchased 21 different LED displays for those boxes, most nights they’ll just be lit up in white.

Ohland said they will save the others for special occasions.

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

There’s a path around the memorial with 13 displays honoring Chandler’s contributions to U.S. military history. Ohland says there is room for more in the future. Ohland said Chandler Museum officials chose who would be honored along that path.

The individuals honored are Sgt. Zora Folley, Lt. Arthur E. Price, Capt. Lorraine Ball-Schwarzwald, Sgt. Eulogio “Lefty” Soto, GM2 Carlos Lapaglia and Cpl. Ira Hayes.

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

Price was a lawyer who fought in World War I. He became one of the city’s founders when he returned.

Ball-Schwarzwald was a Chandler High graduate who spent two years in active duty at the end of the Vietnam War. Soto enlisted during World War II after his sophomore year at Chandler High. He later served as part of the occupation force in Japan.

LaPaglia served on the USS Indianapolis during World War II and survived that ship’s sinking and floating for days in shark-infested waters.

Hayes was from the Gila River Indian Community and is one of the Marines photographed in the famous shot of a U.S. flag being raised over Iwo Jima.

There are other displays paying tribute to Chandler’s role in Williams Air Force Base history, the city’s previous war memorials and the Sabre Dog jet that has been part of the city’s landscape for 60 years.

Overlooking the entire field is that Sabre Dog jet, which has been moved to this memorial from its previous home at Delaware Street and Chandler Boulevard.

“Amazing, this is amazing,” said Dasmond Richards, a Phoenix resident who served in the Marines. “I came here today to check out the park, we didn’t realize today was the … grand opening of the memorial service part. To be here, right now, especially today, is good stuff, it’s amazing.”

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

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

Chandler dedicates stunning memorial to veterans

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