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home : latest news : latest news November 24, 2015

3/30/2013 11:01:00 PM
Vietnam Memorial Wall comes to Cottonwood (with photo gallery)
Several hundred gathered for the first look at the Vietnam Memorial Wall when it became available to the public at noon Thursday. VVN/Jon Pelletier
Several hundred gathered for the first look at the Vietnam Memorial Wall when it became available to the public at noon Thursday. VVN/Jon Pelletier
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A crowd of about 300 gathered for the unveiling and dedication of the long-awaited Vietnam War Memorial replica constructed on the field behind Cottonwood Middle School on Thursday, March 28.

Jon Hutchinson
Staff Reporter

COTTONWOOD -- A huge crowd gathered on the playing field behind the Cottonwood-Oak Creek School District office for the unveiling of the long-awaited Vietnam War Memorial replica.

The American Veteran Traveling Tribute arrived Wednesday evening and was assembled on the grassy beginning Thursday morning. Several hundred gathered for the first look at the memorial wall when it became available to the public at noon Thursday.

Significant among the crowd were numerous fellow Vietnam veterans, many wearing colors to identify their unit on their hats or jackets. They clearly remembered the living faces of those who did not return, those whose 58,300 names are etched into aluminum panels stretching 360 feet across the field.

The wall will remain in place and be available 24 hours around the clock until Sunday afternoon.

Organizer Ron Luce and members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post #7400 opened the 80-percent replica wall to the public during a noon ceremony. All local veterans organizations will participate in ceremonies during its stay in Cottonwood.

After Presentation of the Colors and the national anthem sung by Michael Swank and LaToya Lewy, Charlie Crick of Sedona, the 2008 Arizona Marine of the Year, placed a wreath for the POW/MIAs and three Gold Star Mothers, who lost their sons in battle, also placed a wreath at the memorial. They included Jasmine Crowl and Paulette Martoni of Prescott Valley and Patti Piccard of Prescott. They were escorted onto the field by members of the Knights of Columbus.

Luce recited a memorial, “No star shone so bright as a mother who gave her son for our nation’s cause.”

Deacon Jim Brown of Immaculate Conception Catholic Church blessed the entire length of the wall before the ceremony was finished and the public was allowed to get close.

Support volunteers were on hand at the wall with master books and computers to help searchers find where the names of soldiers killed in battle were listed among the dizzying number of 58,000 names. The audience strung out in long lines waiting their turn and with a numbered location, turned to the wall.

Pages are available so that people can also do rubbings of the names on the wall.

School children were on hand from Cottonwood Middle School. Children from the Mingus Springs Charter School in Chino Valley drove to Cottonwood to see the wall.

One tall tow-haired teenager asked a volunteer about a name he said was his great-grandfather, “Grady.” For some family members or relatives, they may know a name, but often did not know much about the fallen soldier; even what state he had lived in. That becomes important when there are hundreds of “Jones,” “Hills,” “Smith” and others.

Mark Pelletier of the Old Town Mission recalled that he grew in a military family and that his father went to Vietnam five times on a ship. He reflected the somber mood that surrounded the wall, but thought he might return in the evening when the crowd passed.

The panels are arranged, east to west, according to the dates the soldier was killed or went missing. Those on the wall are listed between 1955 until May 15, 1975, but most of the deaths occupy the period from 1965 through 1971.

The design for the memorial, by Chinese-American architectural student Maya Lin, which was dedicated in 1982, was initially controversial for its unadorned nature and blank walls, but in the ensuing years has become an emotional anchor for one generation, and become one of America’s favorite monuments. It’s highly reflective granite walls reflects the image of the living alongside the names the dead.

The American Veteran Traveling Tribute Wall is the largest among five walls that continually circulate around the U.S.

The Cottonwood Four

Of the 58,000 names on the Vietnam Memorial, 617 are names of troops killed who had called Arizona home; 21 of those Arizonans were from here in Yavapai County.

A dozen were from Prescott, one each from Bagdad, Hillside, Ashfork and Pierce. Four servicemen listed on the wall were from Cottonwood. Those four are Anthony Lee Bennett, William Raymond Bennett, Michael Alan Hill and Frank Ambrose Razo. All attended Cottonwood area schools and graduated from Mingus Union High School.

Anthony Lee Bennett was born Nov. 15, 1945. He was single and aged 22 when killed. He was a 2nd Lieutenant in the Army Reserves. Tony’s tour began on Feb. 14, 1968 and ended three months later May 31st. He was killed by hostile small arms gun fire in Quang Tri province, South Vietnam,

A fellow 17th Cavalry member, Reid Lyon, posted an online memorial to Tony: ”I remember the day you gave your life in Nguyet Bieu hamlet near Chau Chu. You were leading from the front, as usual, as you assaulted the bunker.”

Another from 1st Lt. Gerald B Kennedy: “I will always remember your extreme sense of humor, your outgoing personality and your professionalism as an Officer.”

Anthony Bennett was awarded the Purple Heart.

He is buried at the Cottonwood Cemetery.

His name appears on panel 62W (May 30, ’68—June ’68)

William Raymond Bennett

Was unrelated to Anthony Bennett. In fact, there are 68 Bennetts listed on the Vietnam Memorial Wall. William was born Dec. 28, 1947, and died at age 18. He was a Private First Class. His tour began Mar. 25, 1966. In 8 more months, he was dead. He died Dec.1, 1966.

William’s death is listed as non-battle related. The casualty was the result of burns, considered non-hostile, but details are not specific.

His name is found on panel 12E, line 131.

Micheal Alan Hill

Born Aug. 5, 1951, Micheal Hill was 20 years old and had just married before enlisting.

Michael Hill, who had lived in Bridgeport, was a Army Sgt in the 48th Aviation Group and Crew Chief on an evacuation helicopter. He had been picking up South Vietnamese Marines that were surrounded by enemy forces, July 13, 1972, near the end of the American involvement in the war. But after loading the chopper to capacity, he told the remaining marines they would have to wait for the next helicopter. One South Vietnamese soldier became angry with Hill’s decision, pulled a gun and shot and killed Hill. The incident occurred in Quang Tri.

Hill was awarded the Air Medal.

His name is found at 1W-Line 56.

According to an online memorial from childhood friend Billy  Helm:

“I remember your old horse, Prince, we used to ride. I remember how you loved messing with your homing pigeons and the special arrows that you made so you could softly knock them off of the beams in that old smelter and catch them and then make them your friends. Man, I remember your ‘57’ Ford. WOW that was a nice car, You put a lot of time into it to build it and make it one of the fastest cars in town. I remember Sylvia, your beautiful wife. They brought me the newspaper and showed me the article. I was given the day off, and nothing new for me, but I went and got drunk.

And another from Doug Jones:

“I had been ordered stateside, my time in Vietnam was done. I thought that with the war winding down and you had to go back, things were going to be OK, boy was I wrong ... I think what upsets me most is that they call your death ‘Non Hostile Action’. I wish I had been there for you. It still kind of haunts me but I have to live with it, I was not there, I was stateside. I am truly sorry. Doug

Frank Ambrose Razo

Frank was born Dec. 7, 1944, in Cottonwood, attended Cottonwood grade school and graduated from Mingus Union High School. Frank Razo became a Marine rifleman in Charlie Co. of the 1st Battalion, 3rd Marines Div. He was killed June 1, 1966 in DaNang, killed by a multi-framentation explosive device.

Frank was awarded the Purple Heart.

He was buried in the Clarkdale Cemetery.

His name is etched into panel 7E, line 131.

Daughter in law Suzanne Razo writes an online memorial: “Frank will never be forgotten. He is still very loved to this day. He is a father and a grandfather. He never had the chance to see his first and only son. His son was born on July 17,1966. He now has 2 grandchildren. One girl and one boy. Frank is very much loved. We know that he has always watch over his son and he still does today. We love you Dad!”

Information and memorials for these profiles courtesy of the  The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall USA, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, and

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Reader Comments

Posted: Sunday, April 7, 2013
Article comment by: Slater Slater

Teach your children well.58,000 on the wall.Never again.No war without the approval of congress.No more chest pounding to slaughter our youth.Wanta fight,next time we keep what we take.PERIOD
Plus we go get our prisoners.Nobody left behind.Now that's worth fighting for.Want to
fight the USA you must pay.

Posted: Wednesday, April 3, 2013
Article comment by: David Perrell

"...could be a redneck."

Probably was, but that's no excuse for wanting to sniff someone's ashes.

In hindsight, I may have been unfairly complimentary when I said he "looked too young to have served in 1966." I'm old enough to have served in 1965, and yet folks claim I look remarkably well-preserved. Some studies indicate this could be a long-term effect from the formaldehyde-laced '33' beer.

Posted: Tuesday, April 2, 2013
Article comment by: Slater Slater

Tried to open an urn?He could be a redneck.

Posted: Tuesday, April 2, 2013
Article comment by: Rolene Dugi

Thank you!! for bringing the wall to us so we can share a brief moment with our dad in remembrance of sons and fathers who have sacrificed their lives for our inherited freedoms. Jeffery L. Boyd is my dad who's pictured above wearing a blue hat touching the wall. He served with the 1st Recon Battalion and is from the Menominee and Pottawatomie Nation of Wisconsin . . . WELCOME HOME DAD!! and those who served . . .

Posted: Tuesday, April 2, 2013
Article comment by: imagine this...

58,000+ names. If the young people they represent stood at attention elbow-to-elbow, the line would be about 22 miles long.

If the 5+ million Vietnamese killed during the communists' war to 'liberate' the South (mostly non-combatants, and most of whom were killed by other Vietnamese) were standing elbow-to-elbow, the line would be about 1800 miles long.

Posted: Tuesday, April 2, 2013
Article comment by: David Perrell

I visited the Traveling Wall on Friday. It was a splendid setup in an ideal location.

I had an odd experience. Someone had left what looked like an urn at a 1966 panel, and a visitor was agitated by this. I suggested that perhaps someone had left the ashes of a dead veteran below the names of his buddies and would retrieve the urn later. The visitor, who looked too young to have served in 1966, doubted the object was an urn. He picked it up and tried to open it, saying that it was of no importance--what mattered were the names on the wall.

The moment passed...the object could not be opened and was put back where it was. But it is worth considering that one individual decided that the importance of some object to another individual was not worthy of consideration.

But then, placing objects that obscure names is not very considerate either. And I was pleased to see on Sunday that volunteers had moved remembrances to one side to keep the names visible for others to find. Many thanks to those volunteers for their consideration.

Posted: Monday, April 1, 2013
Article comment by: Milt Cruver

Thank You to VFW #7400 Past Post Commander Ron Luce and all involved with organizing this showing of our support of our Vietnam war Dead. I can not tell you how much it means to so many of us who remember these wonderful young Men and Women Warriors from the Vietnam War. I would like to note that Marine Charlie Crick from Sedona lost his brother Marine Lance Corporal Dale Eugene Crick was 20 years old when on 11 February, 1969 he was Killed in Action while serving with Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division of III Marine Amphibious Force during operations against the enemy forces in the Republic of Vietnam. Semper Fi Marine!

Posted: Monday, April 1, 2013
Article comment by: Victoria Duenas

I am the daughter of a Korean War Veteran and niece of Frank Ambrose Razo. I had the pleasure of viewing the memorial wall over the weekend and I must say this experience was extremely emotional for me. I now know how my mother felt about losing her beloved brother at such a young age over differences in our beliefs. She would often say how the war was "senseless". Too many innocent lives taken. With heartfelt sincerity, thank you to all who served our country. Uncle Frank rest in peace and may God hold you in the palm of his hand. I love you!

Posted: Monday, April 1, 2013
Article comment by: Ron Gladden

This was an awesome event. Thanks to all who made it happen.

Posted: Sunday, March 31, 2013
Article comment by: David Alan

Two of my old team mates whose names do not appear on that wall are:

Dave Day, and
Don Zylstra

Both of these fine young men were killed within a year after graduating from high school.

Dave was mortally wounded on his first day in country. With Don, neither the VA or those who maintain the Wall have any record of him.

We lost many more of our friends and brothers than those whose names appear on that wall.

Just wanted to see them remembered too.

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