P.O. Box 6123, Scottsdale, AZ 85261 aivmoaz@gmail.com

Welcome to the AIVMO Website

“The American Indian Veterans Memorial Organization was created to establish a memorial to honor the American Indian veterans of all wars and to establish a place for such veterans, their families, and friends to gather, and pay tribute to living and deceased American Indian veterans.”

The American Indian Veterans Memorial will be located in Steele Indian School Park in Phoenix, Arizona. The memorial will be built on a prominent site west of the hummingbird-shaped pond, forever symbolizing peace and healing and gracefully offering everlasting and timeless visibility in honor of American Indian Veterans.

With the creation of Steele Indian School Park in 2001, the City of Phoenix began the unique and challenging task of creating a community park that represents the indigenous principles of balance and interconnectedness. The park itself sits on the land that once that was once home to the Phoenix Indian School, a boarding school for American Indians from around the country that operated from around 1891 until it was closed by the Federal Government in 1990.

The park’s beginnings are rooted in the circle, a common concept to all tribes and even to the City of Phoenix itself as it moves towards the future. The memorial will be juxtaposed next to a body of water, Steele Indian School Pond.

Ira Hamilton Hayes – Gila River Pima

Paratrooper US Marine Corps, World War II

1923-1955

Ira Hayes was born in Sacaton, Arizona, on January 12, 1923. He was a member of the Gila River Pima, Akimel O’odham tribe when he enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps during World War II. As a Paramarine, he fought in the Bogainville and Iwo Jima campaigns, where he was immortalized as one of the six soldiers raising the flag on Mount Suribachi, Iwo Jima, on February 25, 1945. The iconic photograph, taken by Joe Rosenthal of the Associated Press, captured the heroic efforts Hayes and the other five flag-raisers, who became national heroes.

Ira Hamilton Hayes

Hayes was commemorated for his heroic war efforts and as one of the six Iwo Jima flag raisers in art, music, and film. A huge bronze sculpture captures the moment photographed by Rosenthal at the Marine Corps War Memorial in Arlington, Virginia.

Hayes portrayed himself raising the flag in the Academy Award winning movie, Sands of Iwo Jima (1949), and his story inspired the movie The Outsider (1961), the movie Flags of Our Fathers (2006), and the song “The Ballad of Ira Hayes,” written by Peter La Farge and performed by Johnny Cash (1964).

During his 39 months of service, Hayes received the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal with Combat V for meritorious service, rated the Navy Combat Action Ribbon for combat participation in World War II, and received a Marine Corps World War II campaign participation star for Iwo Jima.

Today, his legacy continues to inspire American Indian veterans around the country. Hayes is recognized with various memorials, and is the namesake of schools, parks, veteran’s organizations and even a mountain peak. Some of the most notable memorials include:

  • Marine Corps War Memorial (bronze statue of the flag raising at Iwo Jima) in Arlington, Virginia
  • Hayes Peak, the northernmost mountain in the Estrella Mountains in Phoenix, Arizona
  • Ira H. Hayes High School in Bapchule, Arizona
  • Ira Hayes Park and statue in Sacaton, Arizona
  • Marine Corps League, Ira Hayes Detachment 2, in Phoenix, Arizona
  • American Legion, Ira Hayes Post 84, in Sacaton, Arizona

The legacy of Ira Hayes lives on. His tribe, the Gila River Indian Community, regularly honors veterans, and supports patriotic events and celebrations using the Ira Hayes American Legion Post 84 during their celebrations.

Photograph by Joe Rosenthal, Associated Press/National Archives

Kent Ware, Sr. – Kiowa

Tech Sergeant and Aerial Gunner, US Army Air Corps, World War II

1922-2004

Kent Ware, Sr., was born in Chickasha, Oklahoma, on September 29, 1922. He was a member of the Kiowa Tribe and a member of the Kiowa Black Leggings Warrior Society and was the founder of the Arizona Territory Gourd Society.

Tech Sergeant/Aerial Gunner Kent Ware, Sr.

Ware was a highly decorated WWII Veteran who served as a Tech Sergeant and an Aerial Gunner on B-17s in the US Army Air Corps. He flew in 33 combat missions and participated in the Air Offensive in Europe with the 407th Bomb Squadron, 92nd Bomb Group, and 8th Air Force. His decorations include:

  • EAME Service Ribbons
  • Distinguished Flying Cross
  • Air Medal with four Oak Leaf Cluster
  • Purple Heart
  • World War II Victory Medal
  • Appreciation Medal from the people of Southern France

Ware was also a life member of the Disabled Veterans and the Military Order of the Purple Heart.

In addition to his many accomplishments as a soldier, Ware was also an instrumental part of many tribal activies in Arizona and around the country. He was a founding member of the Phoenix Indian Center, Native American Connections (a.k.a. Indian Rehabilitation Center), Arizona Affiliation of Indian Centers, Native American Seniors Association, Phoenix Indian Medical Center Auxiliary, Parents Anonymous Committee, and the Indian Community Health Care Center.

Kent Ware, Sr. was inspired to establish the American Indian Veterans Memorial Organization (AIVMO) in 1993 to honor all American Indian Veterans, both living and deceased, around the country. He worked tirelessly to make the memorial a reality, until his death in August 2004. The legacy of AIVMO lives on through his son and daughter-in-law, who are raising funds and driving plans forward to start building the memorial structure in Steele Indian School Park in 2020.

Gregory L. Vincent – Salt River Pima

Sergeant, US Army

As a young boy, Gregory Vincent said he was bound for the military. “Growing up as a kid I was always playing with toy soldiers, model planes and ships, and watched every war movie possible,” he said.

He was assigned to the 55th Aviation Company, U.S. 8th Army. This is where Vincent would find his Army career, learning how to repair radios on helicopters and other Army aircraft. He said, “The pilot will have to rely on this instrument. I repaired that radio to been seen by radar, and that was my job.” He was assigned to 35/20 avionics, navigation and flight control repairman jobs.

Vincent had been in the aviation club in high school, so it was no surprise
to him that he would be working with helicopters. He earned an honorable discharge after serving 20 years in the U.S. Army. After his discharge, he returned to Salt River.

Reprinted with permission from the Vincent family from the Au-Authm Action News Special Issue – November 2, 2017.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is AIVM-Logo-01.png

See the Latest Architectural Plans

The original memorial design was created by renown local artist and architect, Dennis Numkena and donated to AIVMO. Richard Begay, Jr., with SPS + Architects in Scottsdale, AZ, has taken over the architectural work and developed the current set of plans for the memorial. AIVMO plans to break ground and begin building in the first half of 2020.