(Photo by Eldon Lindsay)

Arizona post plans Iwo Jima event

American Legion Post 84 will honor its namesake, Ira H. Hayes, in a ceremony Saturday in the Native American community of Sacaton, Ariz., also the home of Post 84.

Hayes, a Sacaton native, was one of the six Americans depicted in the famous Iwo Jima flag-raising photograph. He returned from World War II and played himself in a John Wayne film, “Sands of Iwo Jima,” along with two of the other flag-raisers. Hayes, a Marine, died a short time later at the age of 32.

Still, thousands of people turn out each year to honor him and his comrades during a memorial service, organized by Post 84.

This year, a military parade and flyover will begin at 8:30 a.m. Saturday, followed by ceremonies at the veterans memorial park bearing Hayes’ name in Sacaton. The event is held each year on the Saturday closest to Feb. 23, the anniversary of the flag-raising.

The memorial park would not exist if it weren’t for Oscar Urrea, a member of Post 84. The park features life-size bronze statues of both Hayes and Juan, along with plaques and monuments honoring the Iwo Jima flag-raisers, POW-MIAs, Native Americans and others.