Post 84 hosts Veterans Banquet

Velia Moncada

Gila River Indian News


The Ira. H. Hayes American Legion Post 84’s banquet on Friday, Feb. 23, in Sacaton at the District 3 Multi-Purpose Building, from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., kicked off a weekend of festivities honoring the anniversary of the Iwo Jima flag-raising leading up to the annual parade and powwow.


The banquet featured speakers, presentations, a meal and guests who returned to Sacaton since the pandemic halted the annual celebrations.

The pre-event dinner commemorated a significant moment in American history while also paying tribute to GRIC’s very own her, Ira H. Hayes, one of the Marines who raised the flag on Mr. Suribachi on Feb. 23, 1945.


Over 200 guests, including tribal leadership and various veteran groups from across the country, as well as other Arizona posts, visiting tribal guests, GRIC members and family of the late Hayes.


Tony Enos, District 3, began the dinner with a blessing followed by introductions from Oscar Urrea, Post 84 Judge Advocate and Master of Ceremonies for the evening.


“We are celebrating two things: honoring our veterans from World War II that served, and also the marines that fought in Iwo Jima, but also, we are honoring Ira Hayes who was one of the flag bearers up on Mt. Suribachi,” said Urrea.


Veteran guests and their families, along with the Hayes family in attendance, received special recognition.


Keynote speakers featured Army veteran Nathan BrownEagle, District 4, member of the Haskell Osife-Antone Post 51, Army veteran Lawrence Williams, District 5, and Wayne M. Allison, District 3, great-grandson of Emma Whittaker - sister to Nancy Whittaker Hayes (Ira H. Hayes’ mother), along with remarks from Gov. Stephen Roe Lewis and Lt. Gov. Regina Antone.


“I want to thank all of our veterans in the Community; I also want to thank all those veterans’ groups throughout Arizona that have come back here to honor the Ira Hayes family, both native veterans’ groups and non-native veterans’ groups because you are truly brother and sisters of ours,” said Gov. Lewis.


Many gifts and words were shared among the guests including the visiting Yakama Warriors Association who presented gifts to Gov. Lewis and Lt. Gov. Antone and Daniel King from the Oneida Nation and Co-chairman of NCAI (National Congress of American Indian) Veterans Committee who presented a gift as well to Post 84.


The evening rounded off into the night with the announcement of the Ira H. Hayes family to be the Grand Marshal for the Iwo Jima flag raising parade.


“It’s a big honor. Before I wasn’t in the military, so, I always came to these events as a civilian, but now since I am currently active duty, it’s more of a huge privilege to be here,” said Lance Corporal Marine, Adam Juan, District 5, great nephew of Ira H. Hayes.


Juan expressed that his time as a Marine deepened his own knowledge of his great-uncle. He now understands the comradery and great respect Ira Hayes has in the military.