Remembering their forgotten efforts
“Your history is our history, and we take pride in that,” said emcee Catherine Anaya to the soldiers of Tucson’s 13th Infantry Battalion Marine Reserves, also known as “Easy” Company. The men were met with a standing ovation as they took to the stage at Latino Perspectives Magazine’s third annual Honoring Those Who Serve event on November 18 at the Wyndham Hotel. Korean War veteran Ruben L. Moreno, also a member of Easy Company, was honored for his role in capturing and preserving the company’s history, sharing stories of the brave men who proudly embodied Tucson’s contributions to the Korean War.
Along with special guests including the Honorable Raul H. Castro, more than 350 people attended the event, which was sponsored by Latino Perspectives Magazine, the Raul H. Castro Institute, and SRP. Among those who joined in the opportunity to shine the light on the deserving individuals who serve both country and community were Phoenix City Manager David Cavazos, NCLR Chairman Daniel Ortega, and County Supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox.
During the program, video vignettes highlighted the honorees’ selfless contributions and sacrifices. More than 100 members of Easy Company, most of them from Tucson, served in the Korean War, often called The Forgotten War. Few had told their stories until Korean War veteran Ruben Moreno stepped in to fill the need. Moreno has spent the past decade collecting the oral histories of the men of E Company.
“It’s up to us to pass on the traditions. It’s up to us to let others know what Latinos have done for our country,” said Phoenix Vice Mayor Michael Nowakowski.
Dr. Anna Solley, president of Phoenix College, echoed the sentiment. “Mere words of thanks cannot express the gratitude that so many of us feel for these courageous veterans. Perhaps the best way we can repay our debt to them is to tell their stories … stories that provide a legacy for all of us to strive toward and to pass on to our own children and grandchildren,” she said.
Elisa de la Vara, district director for the office of Rep. Ed Pastor, shared a message from the congressman and informed attendees that each of the honorees will receive a Certificate of Special Congressional Recognition.
In addition to this year’s honorees, a distinguished group of men and women who have been profiled during the past year in Latino Perspectives Magazine were recognized for serving our community with pride, honor and distinction: Master Sergeant Elva M. Shipp, U.S. Air Force; Officer Fabian Gonzalez, Phoenix Police Department; Master Sergeant Celia Herrera, Arizona Air National Guard; Detective Icela Brown, Phoenix Police Department; Deputy Chief of Training and Special Operations Fernando Duenas Valenzuela, Mesa Fire Department; Airman 1st Class Angelo Pimienta, U.S. Air Force; 2nd Lieutenant George L. Lopez, Arizona Army National Guard; Officer Carlos Armando Valenzuela, Scottsdale Police Department; Lieutenant Colonel Cosme F. Lopez, Arizona Army National Guard; Captain Kristina Tellez, Glendale Fire Department; Private First Class Barbara Vieyra, U.S. Army (honored posthumously).
The fruitful partnership between the Raul H. Castro Institute and Latino Perspectives Magazine has resulted in projects that preserve the rich history of the Latino community in Arizona, including the Arizona Latina Trailblazers, an inspiring collection of digital stories about Latinas who helped push our state into the 21s century. As part of the ongoing historical preservation effort, the partners have published Not So Easy: Tucson’s 13th Infantry Battalion Marine Reserves Go From Boys to Men. The book, compiled by Charles H. Sanderson with a foreword by Raul H. Castro and coda by Dr. Carlos Vélez-Ibáñez, will be donated to public libraries and high schools throughout the state, in addition to being made part of the Arizona Memory Project.
Check the photo gallery of the event here.