Sponsored by

Arizona Gold Star Military Medal

New law provides medal to families of Arizona’s fallen service members

Thanks to

PHOENIX - The dogtag around Margy Bons’ neck bears a picture of her son, Marine Sgt. Michael Marzano.

Her office contains a shrine of sorts to him: his Marine Corps portrait, a picture of the day he received his sergeant’s stripes, a Marine Corps service medallion, a folded U.S. flag she received after he was killed in Iraq in 2005.

“You don’t want your child to be forgotten because you will never forget that pain of that knock on the door when they tell you you’ve lost your boy,” Bons said.

Under a law taking effect Sept. 30, Bons is to receive an Arizona Gold Star Military Medal honoring her son’s sacrifice.

Sen. Al Melvin, R-Tucson, the bill’s author, said he got the idea from Hawaii, which in 2005 created a medal of honor for its residents killed in action since Sept. 11, 2001. Since then, Louisiana, Maine, Nevada and Alaska have started presenting similar medals.

“The primary reason is to give recognition to these fallen heroes who gave the ultimate sacrifice for their fellow citizens and their state,” Melvin said.

More than 100 Arizona residents have been killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The law will authorize the Arizona Department of Veterans’ Services to award the medal but requires that no money from the state’s general fund go toward it. The money will come instead from the Veterans’ Donations Fund, which draws from fees for the Arizona Veterans License Plate, said David Hampton, a spokesman for the department.

TucsonSentinel.com relies on contributions from our readers to support our reporting on Tucson's civic affairs. Donate to TucsonSentinel.com today!
If you're already supporting us, please encourage your friends, neighbors, colleagues and customers to help support quality local independent journalism.

“There are really few adequate methods of acknowledging the ultimate sacrifices that our men and women in uniform make on our behalf, and I think this bill, this medal, represents a way for the people and the state of Arizona to really recognize those sacrifices made by Arizonans,” Hampton said.

Melvin’s is one of six laws taking effect concerning the military and veterans’ affairs. Others will award honorary diplomas to war veterans who didn’t finish high school, allow active duty military members deployed overseas to cancel spa contracts and allow someone to receive a voter identification form with a military ID.

Melvin said he hopes the state will begin awarding the medals by the end of the year. He said the Arizona National Guard will have a contest to pick a design for the medal, but spokesman Maj. Paul Aguirre said Tuesday that the Guard had yet to be asked.

Dee Newman, whose son, Army Sgt. 1st Class Michael J. Tully, died in Iraq in 2007, said the medal would be a wonderful gesture.

“It’s great news because it’s about time that somebody stands up and does something for the parents of those whose children have been sacrificed,” said Newman, Arizona chapter president of American Gold Star Mothers Inc.

However, Bons, president of Operation Homefront, a nonprofit organization that supports service members deployed overseas, said she’d rather not receive another item to remember her son by.

“Frankly, we receive a flag from the Capitol of Arizona the day we lose our child,” she said, “and I would rather have the money spent for our living, for our veterans, for our homeless, for anything that has to do with our military living than to have a knick-knack.”

Melvin noted that the program will be voluntary, so Bons is under no obligation to accept the medal.

“I think this is an opportunity for the state, a grateful state, to give thanks to her,” he said.

- 30 -
have your say   

Comments

There are no comments on this report. Sorry, comments are closed.

Sorry, we missed your input...

You must be logged in or register to comment

Click image to enlarge

Iain Woessner/Cronkite News Service

Margy Bons stands next to a picture of her son, Marine Sgt. Michael Marzano, who died in Iraq. A law taking effect later this month authorizes an Arizona Gold Star Military Medal for families of Arizonans killed in action. But Bons said she’d like money that would go toward the medals to be spent on living military members and veterans.

“Frankly, we receive a flag from the Capitol of Arizona the day we lose our child,” she said, “and I would rather have the money spent for our living, for our veterans, for our homeless, for anything that has to do with our military living than to have a knick-knack.”

— Margy Bons

New laws dealing with the military and veterans

Here is legislation becoming law Sept. 30 dealing with the military and veterans:

  • HB 2450: Allows honorary high school diplomas for veterans over 65 who enlisted in the U.S. armed forces while in high school and were honorably discharged from the military. Author: Rep. Jerry Weiers, R-Glendale.
  • HB 2495: Provides a veteran who was honorably discharged while serving at a military installation in Arizona with in-state status to a public university or community college. Author: Rep. Patricia Fleming, D-Sierra Vista.
  • HB 2627: Allows the use of a U.S. military ID as a form of identification to obtain a ballot. Author: Rep. David Gowan, R-Sierra Vista.
  • SB 1176: Modifies the handling of the Military Family Relief Fund, which provides assistance to deceased or wounded service members from Arizona, to ensure that participants are from Arizona or an Arizona military base and have served since Sept. 11, 2001. It also caps assistance at $10,000 per family, among other changes. Author: Sen. Russell Pearce, R-Mesa.
  • SB 1407: Allows active duty military members deployed out of state to cancel health spa memberships at any point during the terms of their contracts. Author: Sen. Jim Waring, R-Phoenix.
  • SB 1429: Allows the Arizona Department of Veterans’ Affairs to award the families of men and women killed in Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom an Arizona Gold Star Military Medal. Author: Sen. Al Melvin, R-Tucson.
  • A
  • A
  • A
  •   Share:
  • more»
Show previews