AIVMO is working to ensure that the service, lives, and blood of our brothers and sisters are not forgotten and that honor of lasting significance is bestowed on those American Indians who valiantly served our country.
American Indians have served our country and fought nationally for the United States in every major war since the American Revolutionary War, including the Civil War, the Spanish American War, World War I, World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Persian Gulf War, Bosnia, Iraq, Afghanistan, and other armed conflicts. The contributions that American Indian Veterans, both male and female, have made in service to the United States needs a visible reminder to all Americans that American Indians have done more than their fair share for our country in its time of need.
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.
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.
Iwo JIma and WWII
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.
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.
Kent Ware, Sr.
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.
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.
Kent’s decorations include:
- EAME Service Ribbons
- Distinguished Flying Cross
- Air Medal with four Oak Leaf Clusters
- 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 activities 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.
Arthur Hubbard, Sr.
(1912-2014) Born in Tapawa, Arizona, on the Tohono O’odham reservation in 1912, Art Hubbard served in the U.S. Marine Corps as a Navajo Code Talker during WWII where he trained over 200 men to transmit and receive messages. Hubbard was appointed by Governor Jack Williams as Director of Indian Development District of Arizona (IDDA), a non-profit agency serving as a Tribal Consortium. He became the first Native American in the State of Arizona to be elected to the State Legislature, where he served as State Senator for District 3 (now 2) for 12 years.
Hubbard was raised a Christian with Navajo traditions and dignities, and served as a leader bridging the Native and Non-Native communities. Hubbard served as a board member and was a consultant to the Tohono O’odham Nation, advising them on water rights. He was also on the board of directors for a Senior Housing Association on the Navajo reservation.
(1946-2020) Born in Fort Defiance, Arizona in 1946, Earl Milford was active duty, US Army, Specialist Four, Parachute/Infantryman, with service in Vietnam; retired 1968. Civilian service as Civil Engineering Technician (Constructions), Bureau of Indian Affairs, Fort Defiance Agency. Organized the Fort Defiance Volunteer Fire Department now known as the Navajo Nation Department of Fire and Rescue.
Milford served as a mentor to the Fort Defiance Community Chapter of 5,500 people; uses his own funds and vehicle to help veterans and others needing emergency financial assistance, housing assistance, and burial costs. As Commander, Post 6789, Veterans of Foreign Wars, and Commander of the Honor Guard now known as the Tse Hootsooi Twin Warriors Society, he advocated for land and funding for a new Veterans Cemetery to augment the Fort Defiance Veterans cemetery now at full capacity.
Eugene (Geno) Talas
Born in Moenkopi, the Hopi Reservation, Arizona, in 1956, Geno Talas served 30 years in the US Air Force as C-5 Loadmaster, retiring in 2004 as Chief Master Sergeant. Since 2008, as the Manager, Hopi Veterans Services, The Hopi Tribe, Geno provides veteran-related services to over 500 Hopi veterans and their families on the Hopi Reservation, and coordinating events honoring the military, veterans and their families.
He serves as Adjutant for The American Legion Lori Piestewa Post 80, Kykotsmovi, Arizona, planning annual activities such as the Veterans Christmas Dinner. Geno was instrumental in researching the histories of the ten posthumous Hopi Code Talkers who served in WWII, resulting in the awarding of the US Congressional Native American Code Talkers Gold Medal to the Hopi Tribe and Silver Medals to their next of kin in 2013.
Vincent L. Gregory
Vincent L. Gregory, from the Salt Pima tribe, was assigned to the 55th Aviation Company, U.S. 8th Army, assigned to 35/20 avionics, navigation and flight control repairman jobs working with helicopters. He earned an honorable discharge after serving 20 years in the U.S. Army.
Edward Yava, from the Tewa, Hopi, and Din’eh tribes, entered Army life in 1962 where he served in Okinawa, Korea, and Vietnam. He proudly served as a Staff Sergeant with the First Calvary Division, Fifth Infantry Division, 173 Airborne Brigade, MACV, Seventh Army. He also served with the Second Armored Division and 101 Division in Ft. Campbell, Kentucky.
Ed’s decorations include:
- Vietnam Service Medal
- Vietnam Campaign Medal with 4 Bronze Stars
- Vietnamese Gallantry Medal with 4 Palms
- Purple Heart with Oak Leaf Clusters