Ak-Chin Indian Community celebrates its Veterans

Maricopa, Arizona

In November, the Ak-Chin Indian Community recognized and thanked our nation’s veterans. The 19th Annual Veteran’s Recognition Celebration happened Saturday, November 3 at the UltraStar Multi-tainment Center at Ak-Chin Circle. This special event honors all veterans, those currently serving in the armed forces and those veterans who have died.

The day started with a 5k run and one-mile walk. U.S. Army veteran Octavio Machado finished in first place for the men, and Sarah Zabawa took first place for the women. After the walk/run, everyone headed to the amphitheater for a buffet breakfast provided by Vekol Market.

During the buffet breakfast, provided by Vekol Market, Ak-Chin Indian Community Chairman Robert Miguel gave the opening comments, thanked all veterans, and spoke about the history of Veterans' Day. This year was the 100th anniversary of the first Veterans' Day, which originated with the ceasefire that ended World War I. Other speakers included veterans who discussed their experiences in different combat situations.

Each year, the event also recognizes a veteran from the Ak-Chin Indian Community. This year’s honoree, Lester Vincent, served in the Army-Air Force from 1946-1947. He then returned to the Ak-Chin Indian Community to work for the railroad and Ak-Chin Community Farms. He married and had nine children before passing away in 1975.

In addition to the local celebration, four veterans from the Ak-Chin Community Veterans Group traveled to attend Veterans Day events in Washington D.C on November 8-12. These events included a reception at the National Museum of the American Indian, a wreath-laying ceremony at Arlington Cemetery, sightseeing the area’s military memorials, and a tour of the nation’s capital. The Ak-Chin Veterans Group members who attended were Cecil Peters, president; Davis Garcia, treasurer; Octavio Machado with wife Adriana; and Raychel Peters.

Part of the trip was also dedicated to learning more and fundraising for the National Native American Veterans Memorial to be created to recognize Native Americans and their military service.

Community Services member Nicole “Coco” Carlyle-Coester closed the event with comments and prayers before inviting the veterans in the audience to come to the stage for additional recognition. This annual event provides a somber, yet celebratory way to thank our country’s veterans, especially those from the Ak-Chin Indian Community.

The Ak-Chin Indian Community thanks and appreciates all veterans who serve our country!