Arizona Horizon Banner

May 26, 2014

Host: Ted Simons

Arizona Military Museum

  |   Video
  • The Arizona Military Museum has been around for about 30 years, housed in an historic adobe building in Phoenix’s Papago Park. Visitors get a look at history long before Arizona was a state to the current war on terrorism and all points in between. Joe Abodeely, retired Colonel, Vietnam veteran and the director of the Arizona military museum, talks about the facility.
  • Joe Abodeely - Retired Colonel, Vietnam Veteran and Director, Arizona Military Museum
Category: Military   |   Keywords: military, museum, historic, arizona, state, veteran,

View Transcript
Ted Simons: The Arizona Military Museum is housed in an adobe building in Papago Park. For more than years visitors to the museum have had a chance to look at and study artifacts from past wars. Joe Abodeely, retired coronel and director of the Arizona military museum, tells us more about the facility. Good to see you. Thanks for joining us.

Joe Abodeely: Thank you for having me. This is a great opportunity to tell people about the museum.

Ted Simons: Well us about the museum, what's it designed to do?

Joe Abodeely: It's designed to inform people about the military history of Arizona, and Arizonans who served in the military, from the conquistadors, as you pointed out, all the way up to the modern wars, operation enduring freedom, Iraq freedom, Desert Storm, we have a display for women in the military, we have a medal of honor display, and of course we cover from the conquistadors, the Spanish colonial period, we cover the U.S.- Mexican war, early Arizona, let’s see after early Arizona, the Indian wars you know everybody has seen the old cowboy Indian movies. Apaches and Geronimo, Cochise -- everybody has seen the cowboy and Indian movies, and then we even do the rough riders, everybody forgets, maybe they don't know, those rough riders were from Arizona. Then we go right after that, we have a display relating to on the border, Pancho Villa raided Columbus, New Mexico, -- forces chased him and that's when the Arizona first infantry regiment became the one was sent over to France in World War I as fillers, they came back, trained and became the famous bush masters, who was McArthur's point element in the islands. Arizona has a fantastic military history.

Ted Simons: Talk to me about who operates this museum and how are things paid for?

Joe Abodeely: Well, I'm glad you asked that. We're so proud of this. We were incorporated in 1975, but we put the museum together actually opened in 1981. Our board and I were elected to do all this in 1980. Our board are our docents. We run it. None of us get paid. Nobody has a paid salary, we do all that, funding, we get no funding except the guard is gracious enough to give us the building and they -- The utilities. When I say we don't get anything, that's a lot. But we operate it, we clean it, I'm the president and if you come down on a weekend you'll see me sweeping the floors and pounding nails, and all my board members do the same thing.

Ted Simons: We were looking at some of the things in the museum. What do you have there? And do you have special one-of-a-kind sort of stuff?

Joe Abodeely: We have uniforms, we have weapons, we have machine guns, we have rocket launchers, we have -- We have some very esoteric specialized stuff. We get them from people will come in, I remember early on, World War II guy would come in and hand his grand rifle in, or bring in a Japanese flag with signatures of all the people. We also get weapons assigned to us. I sign for them from the center of military history. We're certified museum by the museum history and the Arizona historical society and we're an official Arizona centennial legacy project.

Ted Simons: Talk to me now about -- You refer to this earlier, but there really is a story here regarding the building itself. This is a historic building.

Joe Abodeely: The building is on the historic register. Took us a long time to get it there. It was built in 1936-37, by works project authority. One of those public works projects people talk about, I'm old enough to probably say, I always say bring that back. When we get the old people who have more gray hair than I do I don't have to explain what WPA is. But they built it, it's an adobe building, the walls are about two feet thick, and I'm telling you right now, when all the rest of these new buildings are dust that adobe building will be standing. It was the building where the motor pool was and the prisoner of wars, the germane Nazi U-boaters captured and sent to the prisoner of war camp on 64th street and Oak, they were brought over and they worked on the diesel engines.

Ted Simons: I'm sure there's some people watching this program saying, germane POWs, 64th street and Oak? YES, indeed. That's quite a story out there.

Joe Abodeely: Real story. Real story. They must have really made somebody angry, these guys who might have been raised in the ALPS and the cold weather climate were sent to Arizona.

Ted Simons: Talk to us now about future plans. It sounds like things are expanding, or are you pretty much built out?

Joe Abodeely: That's an excellent question. Somebody mentioned that to me the other day, we like all museums have used all of our space. Some people say, “Joe why don't you just expand?” I said, well, right now what I think I'd rather do -- Because we don't have that kind of funding, and money is tight for other things and as you know the arts usually get the least of funding. So what we do is we get donations, we give our own money, the department of veterans services has helped fund this dinner we're going to put on, we're thankful to get this money to put this on, but I think what we want to do is be a vehicle for people to come in and honor veterans of all these wars. As I said, the Vietnam veterans are now those old World War II veterans this, is the only museum in the state that has a 3,000-square-foot room honoring Vietnam veterans. We have a U-EY in the middle of the room. A U-EY helicopter. We have CPU4, you know those – We have a a gun jeep in the middle. We have uniforms, we have AK-s -- It's really a neat museum.

Ted Simons: Hours and location.

Joe Abodeely: It’s located at 5600 east Mcdowell, go in the main gate of the Papago Park military reservation, enter off bushmaster Boulevard about 5600 east Mcdowell, would be the best way to get in there and we're open every Saturday and Sunday from 1 to 4, but we're going to be closed June, July, and August. So wait until September again. The rest of this month we're open, but June, July, and August we're going to be closed during the summer.

Ted Simons: Saturday and Sunday get on over there.

Joe Abodeely: That's it.

Ted Simons: Last question, what do you want people to take from a visit to this museum?

Joe Abodeely: That's an excellent question. I want them to appreciate the service of all of these people who have served their country honorably. A lot of people say they care about veterans. I always tell my board, I don't really believe that's true. I'm a Vietnam veteran. And I'm proud of that. And -- But I have tried to make people aware of the service of veterans, and I want them to be aware of this great history. This really colorful military history that has made the great state of Arizona.

Ted Simons: A lot of folks are surprised when they go in there aren't they?

Joe Abodeely: Yes, they are.

Ted Simons: Joe it’s good to have you hear. Good luck with the museum. We'll keep in touch with you because we want to make sure that if these expansion projects do happen, we want to hear about them.

Joe Abodeely: Thank you.

Ted Simons: Thank you.

Morenci Vietnam Veterans

  |   Video
  • In 1966, nine young men left the Arizona mining town of Morenci to serve in Vietnam. Only three returned. Their stories are told in Arizona State University history professor Kyle Longley’s book: “The Morenci Marines: A Tale of Small Town America and the Vietnam War.” Longley will talk about their stories.
  • Kyle Longley - History Professor, Arizona State University
Category: Education   |   Keywords: education, vietnam, veterans, asu, morenci, history,

View Transcript
Ted Simons: In 1966, nine young men left the Arizona mining town of Morenci to serve in Vietnam. Only three returned. Their stories are told in ASU history professor Kyle Longley's book, "The Morenci Marines A Tale of Small Town America and the Vietnam War." I spoke with the author. Good to have you here. Thanks for joining us.

Kyle Longley: Thank you very much for the opportunity.

Ted Simons: Who were the Morenci nine?

Kyle Longley: Eight young men who had just graduated from high school. They were joined by a friend who had graduated two years before, gone to U of A but came back, and they joined as sort of a band of brothers. You've got a cross-section of the town. Three Mexican-American, one Navajo, the rest are Anglo, but they're all the sons of either miners or people who worked in the smelters.

Ted Simons: Why did they decide to join?

Kyle Longley: A number of reasons. I explore these complexities in the book. Major one, of course, is the draft. Most with the exception of two had no anticipation of going to college. So they didn't have a deferment. There are many other reasons. Their fathers had served, and in Morenci they're proud of their military service so they were following in the traditions that their fathers, their uncles and others had established.

Ted Simons: These were friends, people that knew each other, families that knew each other, Morenci, even then a small town.

Kyle Longley: Very much so. A town of 5,000. They played football together, they partied together, they went to church together. It's a very small close-knit community even today. So everybody knew everyone. The good, the bad, and the ugly. And they just joined as a group. They thought they would go together; we're going to go together and join the marine corps because we want to be with the best.

Ted Simons: But they wound up with different specialties, different deployments, I would imagine?

Kyle Longley: They did. From the period -- In the first wave four went over on a ship together. But they dispersed once they hit South Vietnam. One was recon, several were riflemen, another actually was to serve on an air base. But over time all nine went. And unfortunately over the period of six out of the nine would die in combat.

Ted Simons: That is this part of the story that is so wrenching. Not at the same time, so it sounds as though the town, the small town had to go through these funerals one after the other. Talk to us about that.

Kyle Longley: Yes, I mean, it was devastating. The first young man to die was the star football player. The good self-described Mormon kid from a very prominent family in the community. And his death in August of 1967, is the first. But soon after Stan king dies, he's the all-state tackle, who had been off at the University of Arizona. 6'5", 230 pounds with red flaming hair, who only lasted six days in the country. So you've got these stories then, Van Whitme, then Larry West, who went back for a second tour duty, dies May 17, 1968 followed by another, who dies after being in country 18 days.

Ted Simons: Three survivors. What did they go through?

Kyle Longley: It was very difficult. The survivors' guilt was significant. Especially mike cranford, who lost his best friend Larry west in combat. They were supposed to be out on a mission together but at the last moment mike got pulled off because he was radio man and another company needed him. They were supposed to be out in the same operation, Larry dies, mike comes home. Mike struggles mightily as do the other friends. How do you explain why I survive and my friends didn't? They never age in their minds. They're 18, 19, their whole lives. But these men age, and they deal often times very significantly with PTSD.

Ted Simons: Would I imagine the town itself, we talked about the funerals, but in general, this is a story, a big story about a town as well.

Kyle Longley: It's very much the community. It's a mining camp, so it's a very unique community in many ways. Dominated by Phelps dodge during these days. There's strikes, there's conflict, there's cooperation. Their fathers worked 26 days on, two days off. It's hard labor, but they're very proud of their military service and the contributions they make to their country.

Ted Simons: Did the attitude toward the Vietnam war in the town, as far as could you tell from your research in the story you've told here, did it change over the years as the funerals piled up?

Kyle Longley: It really didn't on the outside. I do think it did on the inside. For example the last young man to die, Clive Garcia, his brother wanted to join. While his mom and dad were proud to say their son had made a sacrifice, when their youngest son went to join they squashed it. And did not want to lose another son. So on the exterior, very strongly in support -- If anything the they complained we didn't win, but I think behind the scenes a lot of people started to question. Not like anti-war protestors, but just why do we have to make such a sacrifice when others are not?

Ted Simons: So is this a typical or is this an atypical small town American story during the Vietnam war?

Kyle Longley: I think it's a very typical. And I think their story, even though it's about nine young men from the same community, it's a story of a generation of Vietnam combat soldiers. That go off to war from small towns, farming communities, mining towns in west Virginia, Montana, these small towns, these small urban suburban enclaves often times immigrant, takes significant casualties. So there's a lot of things replicated -- Loss of friends, the experience in combat, the PTSD they deal with, the dishonor many people heap upon them for their service and how they have to overcome that. So there's some really unique characteristics. Again, in this group of nine for six to die, that's a devastating loss. But at the same time there are a lot of similarities with the Vietnam generation.

Ted Simons: How is the legacy of the Morenci nine preserved, especially in a town like Morenci, which is literally changed from those days, because it's been swallowed up. Much of the history of that town now is at the bottom of the pit.

Kyle Longley: Very much so. It's very difficult to recreate the story. It wasn't there for me. And I couldn't even see the physical characteristics. But what has been an important -- And I think this story means more to people in Morenci because it's the way they hold on to their old traditions, through the stories. Because the physical characteristics are no longer there. So they have to hold on to these memories. And I think it's extremely important -- And again, they'll be the first to say, other Morenci young men from Morenci served. Some died. But this story is a central piece of that story of remembrance.

Ted Simons: Is that why you wrote this book? Why did you wrote this book?

Kyle Longley: I read a newspaper article in 2000, and I looked at it and I go, there's so much more to this story than just a newspaper article. It was a wonderful article, but I looked and went, this is an important story, not just for Arizona, not just for the southwest, but for our country, for the marine corps, for the people who served in Vietnam because their story is a story of many.

Ted Simons: When you started to write the book, when you had an idea what you wanted the book to be and how -- The results, when you wound up with the hard cover edition all set to go and all the work's been done is it the same book?

Kyle Longley: It is the same book. I think what made it, because I wrote their story. That was my goal, not integrating my story into the process, it was to write their story. And the story unfolded. It was a very difficult story because there were no central depositories of materials to take and use. Had to do a lot of oral histories, had to beg families for letters, and diaries, and many of them were forthcoming A. lot of the families wouldn't talk to me because it still hurts, so bad. 40-something years later to have lost a brother, a son, so it was a very difficult process, but one where many people in Morenci embraced me and helped me.

Ted Simons: With that in mind, now that the book is out, now that folks have had a chance, well, they will have a chance here, just recently released, but are you expecting -- What kind of response are you expecting from this?

Kyle Longley: I expect a good one. Because again, the people who have read the advanced galleys are very strongly supportive of it. These are scholars, these are people that not even tied to Morenci. But I think the people in Morenci are going to enjoy -- As much as you can enjoy this to a degree this very sad story, they want the history remembered. Leroy Cisneros just died, and his comment was always, I want my friends remembered. I want my sons to know about Bobby – my bestfriend. And I don't want them ever forgotten.

Ted Simons: It's a great piece of work, congratulations on the success of completing the book, and good luck with your future and the book's future.

Kyle Longley: Thank you very much.

National Memorial Cemetery of Arizona

  |   Video
  • Since 1979, the National Memorial Cemetery of Arizona in Phoenix has been the last resting place for veterans and their families. It was started as a state cemetery, and was transferred to the U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs in 1989. It is expected to reach capacity after 2030. Jerry Rainey, the director of the cemetery, and administrative officer Deborah Ryan will tell us more about the facility.
  • Jerry Rainey - Director, National Memorial Cemetery of Arizona
  • Deborah Ryan - Administrative Officer, National Memorial Cemetery of Arizona
Category: Military   |   Keywords: military, arizona, phoenix, memorial, cemetery, national,

View Transcript
Ted Simons: The National Memorial Cemetery of Arizona is located in Phoenix, and since 1979 the cemetery has been the last resting place for receipt advance and their families. The facility was started as a state cemetery and transferred to the U.S. department of veterans affairs in 1989. The cemetery is expected to reach capacity in another 15 years. For more on the cemetery we spoke with Jerry Rainey, the facilities director, and administrative officer Deborah Ryan. Good to have you both here. Thank you so much for joining us. Where is this national cemetery?

Jerry Rainey: We're located about two miles north of the 101, just off of Cave Creek road. Actually you would go down Cave Creek and turn right on Pinnacle Peak, that's where our main entrance is at.

Ted Simons: How big a facility is this?

Jerry Rainey: Right now we have got 220 acres, and 119 acres that's developed.

Ted Simons: You still have quite a bit undeveloped.

Jerry Rainey: That's correct.

Ted Simons: As far as burials there now, I read 66,000, but how many burial -- Ceremonies, burials do you do a year?

Deborah Ryan: A little over 3,000.

Ted Simons: My goodness that's a lot.

Deborah Ryan: Yes.

Ted Simons: Things have to be kept moving.

Deborah Ryan: We try to keep them moving along.

Ted Simons: Give us a description of how a ceremony, how long a ceremony, what would be involved with the ceremony.

Deborah Ryan: The ceremonies are scheduled for 30 minutes, and at the beginning of the service is military honors, and that takes about roughly 10 minutes or so, and then at that point the families or the funeral homes have made arrangements for clergy to come forward to do a short committal service for the family. It's generally about 30 minutes.

Ted Simons: And who is eligible now for this cemetery?

Jerry Rainey: Any veteran and their spouse, and of course children under 18 years old who have another than dishonorable discharge.

Ted Simons: OK. As far as the assignment of grave sites, how does that work?

Jerry Rainey: We take each grave, one after another, and that's due to equipment because we can work the next available grave site, we do not reserve any of them unless it's of course connected with the Corey Shea act which is where a veteran is killed in active duty, and then if he has no other dependents, according to the Corey Shea act, their father or mother are allowed to be interred with that soldier.

Ted Simons: Interesting. Describe the appearance of this national cemetery.

Deborah Ryan: It's really nice. It's a desert landscaping, and we're surrounded by mountains all the way around, it's very peaceful, and it's really a lovely cemetery.

Ted Simons: Is it desert landscaping, obviously certain parts of the country would be considered, but is that relatively unusual?

Deborah Ryan: Most of our cemeteries are the turf, the grass. And so a lot of times families come in and they see the ground, and they're like, I don't know about this. But it's really lovely once you see it. It makes sense for Arizona.

Ted Simons: Do we see grave stones there? Do we see something else?

Jerry Rainey: We do have flat bronze markers, and we call it waterwise landscaping. We are on a drip irrigation system for some of the plants, but it is the desert landscaping, it's very beautiful. Of course we'd like to have people come out and take a look at it. It's a gorgeous cemetery.

Ted Simons: No upright headstones, though, correct?

Jerry Rainey: That's correct.

Ted Simons: Why is that?

Jerry Rainey: It's essentially just something that they've chosen to do here. A lot of national cemeteries of course they've got the marble upright headstones or flat headstones, and of course in this location they chose to do the flat bronze markers. We've also got what we call a column wall, and that is an above-ground column with niches that holds cremations.

Ted Simons: As far as cremation placement, that's basically how that would work in the wall there?

Deborah Ryan: With cremation you have a choice, in-ground burial or above-ground burial.

Ted Simons: All right. Any special features at this -- In terms of electronics, or --

Deborah Ryan: Well we have a carillon it does Winchester chimes on the hour and then also plays military songs throughout the day on the hour so it’s very nice.

Ted Simons: Anything else special there that you might not see somewhere else?

Jerry Rainey: We've got a memorial walkway there, we've got what we call founders' plaza, and you could probably tell me more -- Tell a little bit more about founders' plaza.

Deborah Ryan: Well, the memorial walkway that's part of founders' plaza has monuments that have been donated and -- By different veterans organizations in memory of female veterans, or CBs, there's all kind of monuments. It's nice to see them.

Jerry Rainey: We've got the eternal flame going on 24/7 there, founders' plaza. It's a very beautiful place.

Ted Simons: I understand there's a computer kiosk that helps locate grave sites.

Jerry Rainey: That's correct. We've got a public information area, and of course to the rear of the public information there's a kiosk, and essentially all a visitor has to do is type in their loved one's name, and it will actually do a location and print out a map of the different sections in the cemetery. The other thing I'd like to mention is the national cemetery administration's also got an app for your cell phone that you can literally look up your loved ones at any one of our 131 national cemeteries.

Ted Simons: So this applies to all the national cemeteries.

Jerry Rainey: That's correct.

Ted Simons: Give me the history of the cemetery again. I understand it was run by the state for a while, then the feds. Talk to us about that.

Deborah Ryan: The first burials were in 1979. And then in 1988 the federal government took over with the stipulation that we -- It remain desert landscaping or water wise. And then in we had a $13 million renovation, and so -- For improvements in the cemetery.

Ted Simons: $13 million, what is involved with that?

Deborah Ryan: They built the visitors' center, which is lovely, a large glass building, we expanded on the roads, we built more committal service shelters to help for the families, and also water retention area so the heavy rains, there's not issue anymore, everything is taken care of. It’ll go smoothly.

Ted Simons: And as far as development is concerned, surrounding homes and these things, how close are they?

Deborah Ryan: Well, we're sort of still out in the middle of nowhere. There's nothing -- There's nothing to the north of us, just sort of an area that's -- There's a mobile home park and some houses, we're still out in the middle of nowhere.

Ted Simons: You mentioned how much developed land there was, how much is still undeveloped as far as a cemetery is concerned. Any threat of reaching capacity any time? It sounds like there's a lot of activity out there.

Jerry Rainey: Well, we're actually within the next couple years we're going to expand with more walls for above-ground cremation, and we've got a lot of undeveloped land, so no, at this point we are not concerned at all with running out of space. And of course there's plenty areas around cemetery.

Ted Simons: Is this the only national memorial cemetery in Arizona?

We also have Satellite Cemetery in Prescott, Arizona, and we manage that cemetery as well. It's located across the highway from the V.A. medical center up in Prescott.

Ted Simons: And is that bigger, smaller? How does that compare?

Deborah Ryan: It's smaller cemetery, it's six acres, and there are approximately 3,000 in-ground burials, and not too long ago we built a column bearing wall so it's closed to in-ground burials but open to cremation placement in the wall.

Ted Simons: Last question, what should people know about this cemetery? What kind of information do you want to get out?

Jerry Rainey: Well, we want to get out that we're there, and we are a service to the veterans, and it's free. It costs nothing to the family. And it's a benefit that they deserve, and of course we're here to take care of the veteran.

Ted Simons: What should people know about this cemetery?

Deborah Ryan: It's really beautiful. Come out and take a while, and spend some time there. It's very peaceful, very nice.

Ted Simons: Thank you both for joining us tonight on this special edition of "Arizona Horizon." Good to have you.

Deborah Ryan: Thank you.