Last week, the Town of Marana recognized three recipients of the Marana Branding Iron and Crystal Legacy Awards at the annual Marana Rotary awards dinner. The recipients were selected from a list of nominations made by the community and were awarded based on their volunteer service and community impact.

The Town of Marana is proud to partner with the Marana Rotary Club to honor the tremendous men and women who are making a difference in this community. Marana's dedicated residents are what make this community so special. Every day, passionate teachers prepare our students for the future, nonprofit leaders serve the needy, and business owners forgo higher profit margins so that they can give back to those around them.


Every year, Marana is proud to acknowledge an individual whose dedication and service improve the lives of others.  This year, no one better encapsulates that description than Sally Hard.  For years, Sally has led by example through her work with Honor Flights of Southern Arizona.

As a result of her service, countless World War II veterans have flown to Washington, D.C. to visit the World War II Memorial, Arlington National Cemetery, and many of the other sites that pay homage to their sacrifice.  As a Purple Heart Town, Marana deeply appreciates both Sally’s efforts and the veterans she serves.

Two UA student veterans, Sean Rambaran and Timothy Ashcraft, served on an Honor Flight by accompanying World War II and Korean War veterans to Washington, D.C., to visit memorials in honor of past military service.

According to UANews, Rambaran and Ashcraft, both Army veterans, were selected through a series of applications and evaluations to go on the Honor Flight trip on Oct. 17 to 19. Honor Flight Southern Arizona helped sponsor and fund their trip to the capital.

Honor Flight is a national nonprofit organization whose mission is to provide a free trip of honor for veterans.

“For our UA students who have served and continue to serve, the opportunity to engage veterans from previous wars and conflicts as guardians on an Honor Flight to D.C. is a tremendous opportunity for engagement,” Cody Nicholls, assistant dean for Veterans Education and Transition Services, said in an article by UANews. “Service above self is ingrained in those of us who serve and have served in the military.”

Courtesy of Tim Ashcraft

Nicholls said the idea for Honor Flight through the UA is to connect the new generation of military and veteran students with the generation that served our country before them. He said all applicants and honorees must be aware that they are a guardian for the veterans they will meet alongside the student veterans that are selected.

UANews said Rambaran enlisted in the Army in 2010 and was stationed in Wiesbaden, Germany, where he was a member of a military intelligence unit. Once he returned to Arizona, he enlisted in the Arizona Army National Guard and will graduate from the UA in December with a political science degree.

Ashcraft, a Tucsonan, said he was deployed twice to Afghanistan during Operation Enduring Freedom. He served as a platoon leader in 2010 and then as a company commander in 2013. He is an aerospace engineering graduate student at the UA through the Army’s Advanced Civil Schooling program. After graduation, he will serve as an instructor at West Point in the civil and mechanical engineering department for three years.

“I was especially excited about this flight and trip because it was considered a ‘changing of the guard.’ For the first time, there was more Korea-war era veterans than WWII veterans, which meant, while they still honor and give priority to the WWII veterans, they are continuing the tradition throughout all wars for all veterans that desire to go,” Ashcraft said. “I am honored to have been the guardian for veteran William Joynt, from the Korean-war era in 1952 to 1954.”

According to Honor Flight Southern Arizona, guardians play a large role during an Honor Flight to ensure that every veteran has a safe honoring experience. Applications to become a guardian must be submitted about eight weeks prior to the event. Guardians other than student veterans pay about $1,000 to attend the Washington, D.C., event and participate in the life changing experience.

Nicholls said the next possible trip for UA student veterans will be during the spring semester of 2016.

“I think all student veterans should be able to go to Washington D.C., to be honored for their service,” said Rochelle Reiss, a pre-physiology sophomore. “I feel as if student veterans are lost in the shuffle of campus life and should be appreciated more on campus.”


Helen Patton, granddaughter of General George Patton, right, pins her Patton Foundation pin on Bill LaBar in Eindhoven, the Netherlands, at the Mayor’s reception on September 18, 2015 during the Eindhoven liberation party. LaBar served under General Patton during World War II. Photo provided by: Suzanne Galen


Photo of Bill LaBar in 1943 when he was drafted into the United States army. He served under General George S. Patton. Photo courtesy of Bill LaBar562687ba46941.image

Bill LaBar, 90, was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1943 and served for three years.

October 20, 2015 7:34 pm  •  

Bill LaBar spent his 90th birthday being treated as a celebrity. He had officials lining up to meet him and at one point, was surrounded by a group of teen girls.

It had been roughly 70 years since the decorated soldier served as a rifleman in Europe.

Most of the people he met on his birthday trip overseas were the children or the grandchildren of the people he fought to liberate.

During an 11-day tour of Europe last month, strangers asked LaBar to pose for photos and for hugs. He signed autographs on books, a jacket and even a 48-star flag.

“Throughout Europe, in the countries that were occupied, the World War II veterans were treated like rock stars,” LaBar said.

He ended the trip celebrating his birthday in Eindhoven, Netherlands and took part in their big liberation ceremony as an honored guest.

LaBar is humble about his war service. But medals on the wall of his Tucson home offer hints at what an 18-year-old boy from Pennsylvania did overseas.

He was recently given the French Legion of Honor, the country’s highest decoration.

LaBar served with the 318th Infantry Regiment, 80th Infantry Division.

At one point he was attached to the 4th Armored Division, which broke through enemy lines to resupply the 101st Airborne Division.

“The 101st Airborne was surrounded at Bastogne. Completely. They were running low on food and ammunition — and everything — and our outfit was tasked to the 4th Armored Division temporarily,” he said.

His company liberated two prisoner of war camps and a forced labor camp. He also helped to liberate Buchenwald concentration camp.

Seven decades later, LaBar pauses, still troubled by the memories of the Nazi atrocities. “When we liberated that, the ovens were still warm,” he said.

He also has pleasant memories, including the day he celebrated the end of the war in Europe.

He smiles, recounting how he met Helen Patton, granddaughter of Gen.George Patton, in Eindhoven.

It was there that Patton took off her pin and gave to LaBar after learning he had served under her grandfather.

Sationed in Austria, the men went to a local farmer to ask for some fresh eggs. The farmer obliged but also dug up a barrel of beer he buried when the war began.

With cold glasses and warm beer, the men celebrated until they could no longer stand up.

At 90 years old, LaBar’s memory is great but not perfect. He relies on his friend Suzanne Galen to help fill in some of the blanks.

Galen raised over $5,000 to take LaBar overseas, putting in her own money to help him retrace his steps in Europe. Last month, she served as a guide and helped to push his wheelchair through three countries.

Besides the memories and photographs, LaBar also came back with a pin from the Patton Foundation.

U.S. Army veterans Sean Rambaran and Tim Ashcraft accompanied World War II and Korean War veterans to Washington, D.C., this month.

October 21, 2015


Two University of Arizona student veterans accompanied World War II and Korean War veterans on a trip this month to Washington, D.C., for a visit to memorials built in honor of military service.

Sean Rambaran and Tim Ashcraft, both of the Army, were selected to go on the Honor Flight trip Oct. 17-19. Honor Flight Southern Arizona sponsored the flight and funded the military veterans' visit, while the Bert W. Martin Foundation gave the UA's Veterans Education and Transition Services a grant to support Ashcraft and Rambaran.

"The idea is to connect this new generation of military and veteran UA students with veterans who served before them," said Cody Nicholls, the UA's assistant dean for veterans education and transition services.

"For our UA students who have served and continue to serve, the opportunity to engage veterans from previous wars and conflicts as guardians on an Honor Flight to D.C. is a tremendous opportunity for engagement," Nicholls said. "We are very grateful to the Bert W. Martin Foundation and specifically Chandler Warden for making this opportunity for out student veterans a reality."

First organized in 2005, Honor Flight is a national network with about 130 hubs across the U.S. Honor Flight hubs are nonprofit organizations whose mission is to provide a trip of honor for veterans at no cost to them.

"Service above self is ingrained in those of us who serve and have served in the military," said Nicholls, a veteran.

"While I have never served as a guardian myself, I have heard countless times, from those who have served as guardians, that serving as a guardian for our veterans is truly a remarkable experience," Nicholls said.

Rambaran, whose father served in the Air Force for more than two decades, enlisted in the Army in 2010. During more than three years of active-duty service, Rambaran was stationed in Wiesbaden, Germany, and was a member of a military intelligence unit. After returning to Arizona, he joined the Arizona Army National Guard and pursued his studies at the UA. He will graduate in December with a degree in political science.

"I felt a desire to serve my country and follow in the footsteps of not only my father, but my grandfather, uncle and cousin," said Rambaran, a Tucson native who said he was immersed in military culture from a young age.

Rambaran said participating in the Honor Flight was a way for him to show gratitude for older generations of veterans.

"Many of these veterans never received any recognition after their wartime service," he said.

Ashcraft twice was deployed to Afghanistan during Operation Enduring Freedom, serving as a platoon leader during his first tour in 2010 and as a company commander in 2013.

Also a Tucson native, Ashcraft completed his bachelor's degree in engineering through the U.S. Military Academy in 2007. At the UA, he is a master's student in aerospace engineering through the Army's Advanced Civil Schooling Program. After graduating from the UA, he will serve his three-year assignment as a West Point instructor in civil and mechanical engineering.

Ashcraft said he takes pride in his military service and in the contributions of his late grandfather, Clarence "Stub" Ashcraft Jr., who played football for the UA and received his commission in the Army from the University in 1941. After serving in World War II, Ashcraft Jr. returned to the UA and spent decades working for the University in different capacities.

"He taught our entire family to love this country and, of course, the Wildcats," Ashcraft said. "Needless to say, my roots run deep at the University of Arizona and in the Army."

Before his grandfather died in 2008, members of the family attended the dedication of the National World War II Memorial.

"The World War II Memorial has special meaning to me for my granddad’s service and because we were there together for the dedication," Ashcraft said.

"It was surreal to be surrounded by men and women who served so honorably and loved their country so dearly, and yet had to wait nearly 60 years to see the memorial erected in their honor," he said. "It was a humbling moment, knowing I would follow in the footsteps of those distinguished veterans who paved the way for future generations."

Ashcraft said serving as a guardian on the Honor Flight was "the least I could do to pay my respects to my grandfather" and other World War II veterans.

  • By Ellen Sussman Special to the Green Valley News

    When Honor Flight Southern Arizona leaves on its 19th trip from Tucson to Washington, D.C., on Saturday, it will be the first time Korean War veterans will join World War II veterans on the all-expenses paid trip to see the memorials built in their honor.

    Five veterans from Green Valley and one from Tubac will be part of a contingent of 25 from greater Tucson consisting of 10 World War II and 15 Korean War veterans. Here are brief bios, starting with the WWII veterans.


    Harold “Hal” Willoby, 89, from Green Valley, served in the Navy from January 1944 to May 1946, and was attached to a Marine battalion as a ship-to-shore radio operator.

    He was in the Philippines when the atomic bomb was dropped.

    “There was elation and tremendous relief, but then we wondered, what’s going to become of us?” he recalled.

    “We had practiced for landing in Japan but didn’t have to do it.”

    Beyond the relief, Willoby remembers three violent typhoons in the Philippines, Okinawa and Shanghai.


    Tubac resident Dana Long, 88, served in the Navy from September 1944 to December 1946. Part of a training crew, his service was in the states. Much of it was spent at the Banana River Naval Air Station in Brevard County, Florida, now Patrick Air Force Base.

    One major event stands out during his service there.

    “We lost five torpedo bombers in December 1945 over Fort Lauderdale; 27 men were killed. We were involved in the search and went halfway to the Azores. Then a search plane blew up. The five planes were never found; they were lost in the water.”

    Long believes that since the war had ended and there had been many tragic stories, the lost planes only made news in Florida and was treated as a training exercise gone wrong.

    His son Steve, 65, is flying in from California to be his Honor Flight guardian.


    Army infantryman Joe Trujillo, 89, clearly remembers his Army service from May 1944 to May 1946, and his experiences in the Battle of the Bulge, also known as the Ardennes Offensive.

    Dec. 17, 1944, is a date that stands out. It's when his involvement in the attack began. It wasn’t long before his hands and feet were frozen and he was hospitalized for a month nearly facing amputation of his left foot due to lack of circulation. But doctors brought him through the brink and saved his foot.

    “I was 18, single and very lonely,” Trujillo said, adding he had been a good baseball player at Tucson High School. His coaches had wanted him to go to the University of Arizona but the draft called and after his release he was unable to play.

    He learned about Honor Flight while shopping with his daughter Diana Trujillo at Fry’s. A woman saw his World War II veteran’s cap and thanked him for his service. She had lived in Luxembourg during the war. Diana will be his guardian.


    Donald “Don” Kruper, 86, is a Korean War vet who served in the Navy from June 1948 to June 1952. He had assignments as a dispensary corpsman in surgical wards and as an operating room technician in Naval hospitals in Philadelphia, Boston and Charleston. Nine months were spent at a small Naval base in Grondal, Greenland, with 125 men. There were few surgeries but the team always had to be ready.

    Kruper remembers one night when the man in charge of entertainment got ahold of a weapon — a fire ax — and Kruper was sent over to calm him.

    “I talked him into letting me inject him with Amytal (to sedate him) and I sat and talked with him. He laid the weapon down. I remember this as the only incident of my life being in danger.”

    Kruper’s son Curtis, who served in the Gulf War, is coming from Boulder, Colo., to be his guardian.


    Francis “Bill” Powers, 83, served in the Navy from March 1949 to May 1956. His service was in the states and the Caribbean, and wasn’t without its hazards.

    Assigned to the USS Livermore as a gunners mate, Powers clearly remembers July 30, 1949.

    “An ensign ran the ship aground in Buzzards Bay, Mass., south of Cape Cod. during a training cruise. It was towed back to Boston the next day. I was thrown against a steam pipe and hospitalized for a few days with second-degree burns,” Powers recalled.

    The USS Livermore also served in the Pacific during World War II and was named in honor of Samuel Livermore, the first naval chaplain to have a ship named in his honor.


    James “Jim” Robbins, 88, served in the Army infantry from October 1951 to October 1952. His service was spent in New Jersey, Maryland and the San Francisco Bay area.

    A standout memory for Robbins was interviewing returning POWs with another soldier, which he described as “not fun.”

    “We were looking to see if any American had been turned to sympathize with the enemy. None had. Questions included, ‘What was your life like in prison camp?’ and, ‘How did you make it easier?’”

    Robbins said the Korean winters in the early 1950s were especially frigid with temperatures well below freezing. Returning POWs reported they would do anything to stay warm.

    Honor Flight Southern Arizona is accepting applications from World War II and Korean War veterans. World War II veterans have priority. For an application, go to

    Contact Green Valley freelance reporter Ellen Sussman at

September 26, 2015 6:00 pm  •  

“I wanted to go overseas,” she said. And she got an adventure when she joined the Women’s Army Corps in 1944.

She had dropped out of the University of Michigan and was wondering about her future when she saw a recruiting poster for the Women’s Army Corps, which said, “Don’t envy them. Join them.”

So she did. In 1944, she was sent to Fort Des Moines in Iowa and later to England aboard the Queen Elizabeth, an ocean liner that acted as a troop transporter during World War II.

In England and later in France and Germany, she worked as a teletypist, operating electromechanical typewriters used to send messages through telephone or radio relay signals.

That young, adventurous woman soldier is now Mary Stirling, 92. She has carefully kept bits of memorabilia from her World War II days, including her uniform, which her son, Robert “Bruce” Stirling Jr., lovingly described as “moldy.”

Though at 92, she sometimes struggles to find the word she’s looking for, she still remembers a lot, including bicycling through Bushy Park in Hampton, having drinks with “Andre,” a Frenchman who was her “special friend,” at the Long John’s Cafe in St. Germain, and visiting other countries.

But serving overseas during World War II wasn’t just about traveling and learning about foreign cultures.

During battles, soldiers were told that they would have to abandon their equipment and flee. She remembers being told she would have to burn papers and smash the teletypewriters if “push comes to shove.”

There were moments of breakdown, she said. She recalled sitting in the barracks at her post in England. An alarm had gone off about an incoming buzz bomb.

“All I could do was sit on my bed and ask, ‘What am I doing here?’ ” she said.

And one time, during the Battle of the Bulge, a German offensive campaign that happened between December 1944 and January 1945, there was a rumor circulating that there were Nazi soldiers out there dressed as nuns, she said.

Stirling and other WAC personnel were tasked with looking for them, equipped with billie clubs and flashlights. But if they ran into nuns, how could they tell that they were Nazis instead of real nuns?

Combat boots. If the nuns are wearing combat boots, they must not be real nuns. But unfortunately, or fortunately, “We didn’t find any,” she said.

Stirling said she and others coped with the dangers of war by keeping busy at their tasks and comforting. “It was too busy a time” to feel afraid, she said.

Then the war ended in September 1945. Stirling said she was in Paris when she first heard the announcement. Later, she received permission to travel to London, where she said she saw King George VI and his Queen consort celebrate on a balcony.

“Everybody was totally excited,” she said.

She made it home in 1946 and shortly after, married Robert Stirling Sr., a Navy pilot — dark haired and blue-eyed like she always dreamed. Together, they had six children.

“I’m sure my family gets tired of hearing about my war experience,” Stirling said.

But Bruce didn’t think so. “I never get tired of them,” he said.

Contact reporter Yoohyun Jung at 573-4243 or

By Ellen Sussman Special to the Green Valley News | Posted: Wednesday, September 9, 2015 9:44 am

Seven Green Valley veterans have heard about the memorable visits others have had on Honor Flight trips to Washington, D.C.

Now it’s their turn.

When they leave from Tucson on Saturday to see the World War II and other memorials on the all-expenses paid trip, it will be Honor Flight Southern Arizona’s 18th trip. The first was in 2011.

The flight includes 23 WWII veterans and, for the first time out of Southern Arizona, three Korean War vets.

WWII veterans still get priority on Honor Flight trips but the national group has expanded to include Korean War veterans. For an application, go to or call 520-579-3262.

Green Valley veteran shared memories of their years in service ahead of their Honor Flight trips.

Don Davis

Don Davis

Don Davis, 86, served in the Navy from March 1943 through December 1945. He recalled his time sailing from San Diego to Guadalcanal aboard the USS Shipley Rex where he and the other troops were “initiated” as they crossed the equator for the first time. It is said the initiation is to ensure they could handle long, rough times at sea. “We paid hell,” Davis said.

Bob Eckles

Bob Eckles

Bob Eckles, 88, served in the Army from September 1945 through June 1947. His memory is being aboard the troop transport ship USS Gen. LeRoy Eltinge where 3,000 of the 3,300 men aboard got seasick from 60-foot sea swells. Eckles was among the 300 who didn’t get seasick but he remembers the unpleasantness. Bob’s guardian on the trip is Green Valley Fire District Chief Chuck Wunder.

Bob Kapellen

Bob Kapellen

Bob Kapellen, 89, served in the Army Air Corps from September 1943 through May 1946. He recalls being aboard a train in Colorado when he heard about Japan being bombed.

“I volunteered and had a lot of schooling but never went overseas. They said my IQ was too high.”

Kapellen will celebrate his 90th birthday on Sept. 28, and said this trip is a wonderful present.

Herb Lockerbie

Herb Lockerbie

Herb Lockerbie, 86, served in the Army from December 1945 to June 1947. He recalls a humorous time when a corporal had troops outdoors doing walks — and couldn’t get them to stop.

“They walked into the woods and he yelled, ‘Out of the woods, HO,’ and got ejected from the training school,” he recalled.

Van McDowell

Van McDowell

Van McDowell, 91, served in the Army from February 1943 through February 1946. His memory is of being threatened with insubordination for refusing to follow an order he knew was wrong. The insubordination threat never materialized and McDowell was commissioned.

Allen Patzke

Allen Patzke

Allen Patzke, 89, served in the Navy from June 1944 through June 1946, and remembers meeting President Truman aboard the USS Franklin D. Roosevelt.

“An ensign reprimanded me for talking to the president but the president spoke to me first,” he said. “The war ended and we didn’t have to go to the Pacific.”

Patzke also remembers the 13-button sailor pants.

Don Peterson

Don Peterson

Don Peterson, 90, served in the Army from November 1943 through April 1945. His standout memory is getting shot by a German sniper. The bullet bounced off his left shoulder and hit him near his left eye leaving him with limited use of his left arm for many years. He still doesn’t lift anything heavy.

Contact Green Valley freelance reporter Ellen Sussman at

Last Southern Arizona Honor Flight with only WWII veterans

On Saturday morning, the non-profit Honor Flight gave 72 WWII veterans the chance to go to Washington D.C. and visit the WWII memorial. It will be the last flight with only WWII veterans.

"I'm extremely excited. I've been through D.C. I've only driven through. I've never seen anything or been there. I've always wanted to see the World War memorial," said Beatrice Kornman, a WWII veteran.

The veterans will be returning to Tucson International Airport at 4:00 PM on Monday. Honor Flight encourages the community to come to the airport and welcome them out.

1-James Barnes
Pvt. James A. Barnes

By Tanisha Price-Johnson
College of Medicine
November 11, 2014

Over the summer, Price-Johnson took a trip to Washington, D.C., with her 95-year-old grandfather, who, nearly 70 years after his service in World War II, was flown to the capital along with 20 other veterans to visit the World War II monument as a thank you for their service.


In honor of Veterans Day, Price-Johnson recalls the trip and what it meant to her and her grandfather. Read more.....tanisha_close_up_w_grandfather_cropped

This article is supplied and sponsored by Raytheon
November 3, 2014 6:00 AM


D-Day 70th Anniversary Commemorated At National World War II Memorial

The tour bus goes quiet as the granite pillars and archways come into view along 17th Street in Washington. An announcement from the tour guide tells the old soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen what they already know: They’ve arrived at the National World War II Memorial.

They walk or wheel their way past a low-slung wall of 4,800 stars – each representing 100 American combat deaths – then begin to take in the rest: relief sculptures of wartime scenes, inscriptions bearing the names of the places they fought. That’s when the power of the place really sets in, tour guide Dominic Quihuis said.

“It takes them a few minutes to take all the sights in. They try to find the specific battles they were in, and most of the time they start crying or they just won’t say anything at all. They’ll just sit back and think and reflect,” said Quihuis, a volunteer for Honor Flight of Southern Arizona, which flies World War II veterans to the memorial free of charge. “Or they’ll start telling you stories. They always tell the funny stories or the anecdotes. That’s what got them through the hell they experienced for those four or five years.”

Quihuis, an electrical engineer at Raytheon’s Tucson, Ariz. plant, embodies the spirit of Raytheon’s Week of Service, which celebrates employees’ volunteer work – particularly time spent helping military veterans. The company employs more than 10,000 veterans, and Raytheon employees spent nearly 5,000 hours volunteering in support of the armed services in the first three quarters of 2014.

Read more....