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A Special Night for Special Young Patriots

Originally published on June 30, 2017

One of the most wonderful experiences for retirees and other military Veterans is the opportunity that we may have to influence and celebrate the accomplishments of those who

now Stand the Watch and maintain the tradition. Even more exciting is to welcome those young men and women who stand tall, raise their right hand, and choose to become part of the military brotherhood and sisterhood — the next generation of people who love America like we do and are willing to sign the same check, payable up to and including our lives to defend her.

Each year the City of Tempe, Arizona, conducts a “Community Salutes” — a special recognition evening to honor the young men and women who, as seniors in high school, made the commitment to service in our Armed Forces.

This year, as a member of the Tempe Chamber of Commerce’s Military Affairs Committee (TCC MAC), I, along with some of my fellow members, had the honor of supporting this wonderful event.

Now, this event is not done in a high school gymnasium or City Hall. To properly show our gratitude for their decision to serve, this event was hosted at the Tempe Center for the Arts–a fabulous venue that provided the right mixture of pomp & circumstance with an environment where honorees, their families, and VIPs from the city, county, and state could mingle and learn more about each other.

The evening enjoyed an incredible charge of emotion and pride. 54 new recruits, all squared away, all eager and excited about their futures, and the parents, siblings, relatives, friends, and VIPs shared in their excitement.

Army Special Forces LtCol David Cluckey was the keynote speaker, providing a look ahead at the future and the proud traditions that each service has. As the new members of our military family crossed the stage, they were greeted by Tempe Mayor Mark Mitchell, who shook their hand, congratulated them, and presented them with a specially minted challenge coin engraved “The First to Say thank You” and a stole for their graduation gown that matches their military service of enlistment.

The following is a listing of the honorees and the military branches to which they have devoted their service…

Arizona Army National Guard:

  • Antonio Fontes Armijo

  • Esmeralda Calderon

  • Estrella Calderon

  • Selena Hernandez

United States Army:

  • Amando Acosta

  • Stephen Amaral

  • Diego Armijo

  • Anthony Boyd

  • Sungho Cho

  • Gabriel Contreras

  • Melchizedek Dickson

  • Jacob Hamilton

  • Blake Jensen

  • Matthew Kauhn

  • Justin Perrone

  • Michael Rosenberger

  • Jiarong Wang

United States Air Force:

  • Kyanna Arellano

  • Justin Bench

  • Dylan Bronson

  • Quinton Burgess

  • Miguel Garcia

  • Gabriel Romo

  • Austin Schalk

United States Navy:

  • David Anderson

  • Tigana Cheek

  • Shilah Groff

  • Stanley Halikowski

  • Edwin Kruen

  • Charles Larkins

  • Blake McPherron

  • Destiny Miranda

  • Caleb Newton

  • Diego Vasquez

United States Coast Guard:

  • Christian Dullard

  • Ashton Rubens

  • A brand new recruit (not on program)

United States Marine Corps:

  • Carlos Alcala Teran

  • Samantha Avila

  • Dakota Begay

  • Moses Canchola Gonzalez

  • Fabian Gorostieta

  • Alexander Johnson

  • Gage Landers

  • Bailey MacNeil

  • Michael Orozco

  • James Perez

  • Jaqueline Perez Acuna

  • Jose Pinuelas Cordova

  • Marx Romero

  • Alexander Simone

  • Jay Stutzman

  • Christian Varela

  • Michael Wilhalme

The program concluded with entertainment that highlighted patriotism in America–each of the military service songs, Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the USA,” classic American songs sung by Paula Erlene, and a poignant salute to Old Glory “Just a Piece of Cloth”by Paula Erlene and Ermal Williamson (as John Wayne).

Congratulations to all our new military recruits and their families! may you serve honorably, continue to learn, and take pride in your accomplishments ~ you are our future leaders!


The Tempe [Arizona] Chamber of Commerce Military Affairs Committee provides support to military- and veteran-related events, as well as provide scholarships to deserving students who are associated with the United States Military–active, reserve, and their children. 



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