Colonel Rett Benedict (U.S.A.F. Retired)
Ms. Bonnie Dudelston, the Administrator of the Arizona Veterans Cemetery at Marana was the speaker at our meeting on Saturday, November 18, 2017, and gave an excellent talk on the 32 acre facility that opened last year. The Marana Veterans Cemetery is one of the newest of the 105 state Veterans Cemeteries in the U.S. and has already interred the remains of over 840 veterans. Any member of the Armed Forces and honorably discharged military veterans are eligible to use a veterans cemetery. Spouses are also eligible in most cases. These facilities are permanently maintained to a very high standard. Arizona has two other state veterans cemeteries in Arizona, Sierra Vista and near Flagstaff and one national veterans cemetery in Phoenix.
The land for the cemetery was donated by the Kai Family Foundation in 2013 and the facility was dedicated on March 26, 2016. There are provisions for in-ground burial of caskets and urns as well as columbarium walls. Military Honor Guards and even Rifle Teams are available for interment ceremonies. Presidential certificates of service are presented to the family, a policy initiated by President Kennedy in 1962 and maintained today.
The building and grounds are attractive and well-kept with beautification projects in work that are supported by multiple local groups, including a “plant a tree” project supported by some SaddleBrooke organizations. There are only three permanent staff, so the efforts of these groups are highly valued.
The facility is very active with Memorial Day and Veterans Day events and multiple interments throughout the year. One of the focus programs has been the Missing in America Project. The purpose of this project is to locate, identify and inter the unclaimed cremated remains of American veterans thereby providing honor and respect to those who have served this country by securing a final resting place for these forgotten heroes. Nationally, over 3000 veterans have been identified and laid to rest.
The next Catalina Mountains Chapter of MOAA meeting will be held on Saturday, December 16, 2017, at 11:30 a.m. in the East Room, MountainView Country Club, 38759 S. MountainView Boulevard, Tucson, Arizona 85739. The speaker will be Colonel Martin Lenzini (U.S.M.C. Retired), President of the Tucson Chapter of the Distinguished Flying Cross Society and a member of the Friday Pilots speaking on his military experiences.
For additional information, contact Colonel Rett Benedict, President, 825-7424, firstname.lastname@example.org or Colonel Bill Nagy, MOAA Treasurer, 355-5064, email@example.com. Check website: www.tucsonmoaa.com for information.
The Catalina Mountains satellite is part of the Tucson Chapter and encompasses North West Tucson to include Catalina, Oracle, parts of Oro Valley and Marana, SaddleBrooke and Sun City.
The Military Officers Association of America (MOAA) is a nonprofit veterans’ service association dedicated to maintaining a strong national defense and to preserve the earned entitlements of members of the uniformed services and their families and survivors.