Ben Carrillo, Commander, Post-55
On the weekend of February 21, the Ira H. Hayes American Legion Post 84 of the Gila River Indian Community in Sacaton, Arizona commemorated the 70th Anniversary of the Flag Raising on Iwo Jima during WWII.
Amongst the participants of the annual Parade were the surviving Native American Code Talkers and Native American veteran groups from around the United States representing their tribes. Also representing American veterans were American Legion Posts, Marine Corps Leagues, VFW Post and various veteran organizations from around the state and US.
The Sun Lakes American Legion, Post-55, James O. Schroder was well represented with four surviving WWII Veterans.
Andy Hoge, of Ajo AZ, is 97 years of age; Andy enlisted into the Navy in 1943 and attended recruit training in San Diego, CA. Andy served as a flight engineer in South America. Andy was discharged in 1945. His most memorable experience in the military was of an aircraft exploding in front of his aircraft during takeoff. Andy is still an active officer in the American Legion Post-55, serving as the Chaplin.
John Jablonski, of Minneapolis, MN, is 86 years of age. He joined the Army Air Corps in 1946 and was sent to recruit training in San Antonio, TX. John served as a supply sergeant in the motor pool. John’s last duty station was Tydall Field, FL where he was discharged in 1947. His most memorable experience in the military was being stationed in San Antonio, TX and canoeing.
Ann Sawatski is from Chicago IL. She is 92 years of age. Ann enlisted into the US Navy in 1942 and was sent to recruit training at Hunter College, Bronx, New York. Ann served as a navel radio operator until 1945 in Long Beach Naval Air Station, CA. Ann is the past commander of Post-55 and is still active in the American Legion. Her most memorable experience in the military is the education and the opportunity to meet individuals from all walks of life.
Jack Holder, of Dallas TX, is 93 years of age. Jack enlisted into the US Navy in 1940 and was sent to recruit training in San Diego and CA. Jack served in Pearl Harbor, Midway, Guadalcanal and the Salomon Islands with PBY Squadron-23. 1943 Jack was transferred to Devonshire, England where he served with the B-24 squadrons, flying missions over the English Channel and Biscay Bay. Jack was discharged from the Navy in 1948. His most memorable experience in the military was the sinking of a Japanese submarine and the sinking of the German submarine.
As the Post Commander, it has been a great honor in serving the community of Sun Lakes, AZ; but most of all, building great relationships, such as our WWII veterans and all the Legionnaires of Post-55.