Gift funds Honor Flight Guardians

By Ellen Sussman Special to the Green Valley News

Chandler Warden

Chandler Warden's family has a long history of giving away money to organizations in Southern Arizona through their Bert W. Martin Foundation.

This year, they extended their reach across history itself, all the way back to World War II.

The foundation is funding 25 guardians to take WWII and Korean War veterans on Honor Flight, a three-day trip to Washington, D.C., to see the memorials built in their honor. The veterans fly free, the guardians pay about $1,000 each.
Warden, who lives in Oro Valley, helps oversee the foundation funding the 24 guardians, who are all veterans attending the University of Arizona. They all belong to the UA Student Veterans Education and Transition Services (VETS) program, one of several national non-profit groups the Martin Foundation backs.

Warden, 65, will join them as a guardian on the May 21-23 trip, marking the 21st flight for Honor Flight Southern Arizona since it formed in 2011. With this flight, a total of 140 World War II and Korean War veterans from Green Valley, Sahuarita and Tubac will have made the trip.

Warden’s grandfather Bert W. Martin was a wealthy industrialist and philanthropist who died in 1971. As part of his legacy, the family continues to support a variety of charitable causes.

Warden's family has a long history of military connections. His father served in the Army Air Corps during World War II; his brother served in the Navy during the Vietnam War; and a son was discharged from the Army last month.

“Our veterans are not recognized as they should be,” he said. “We need to recognize them, especially now, and it’s one of the reasons I chose Honor Flight Southern Arizona.”

He also values the VETS program because it gets recently discharged veterans back into education. He became aware of it through another philanthropic work. As a melanoma survivor, Warden started the Skin Cancer Institute at the University of Arizona in 2005. Contacts there led him to the VETS program.

He said the May trip is just the beginning of their involvement with Honor Flight, and that they will fund more guardians in the future.

“We try to help as many people and deserving agencies as possible in health, recreation and creating mentors for children,” he said. “We’re all over the map to help as many causes as we can.”

Warden said the next generation of his family is spread out so the Foundation is starting to fund in different areas of the country.

Contact Green Valley freelance reporter Ellen Sussman at ellen2414@cox.net.