Korean War Veterans Dedicate Memorial Pavers at Arizona Veterans' Memorial Cemetery at Marana

Pima County Chapter of the Korean War Veterans Association
August 28, 2023

MARANA, Ariz. - At the entrance of Arizona State Veterans’ Memorial Cemetery at Marana (AVMC-Marana), a bronzed eagle greets visitors with its outstretched wings. But, this magnificent bird is more than a snazzy decoration piece, it has a very important job: standing watch over the service members who fought in the Korean War.

In front of the eagle lays a path of red bricks inscribed with the names of Arizona Veterans who served in what is thought of as the Forgotten War.

The bricks were donated by the Pima County Chapter of the Korean War Veterans Association to remember and honor the service members who were in the war. The bronze eagle statue that keeps watch over the pavers was a donation to AVMC-Marana by Paul Marsh, a Korean War Veteran who founded the KWVA Pima Chapter.

“We continue to send a message to our Korean War Veterans that the war was not a forgotten war, and that their service to our country will never be forgotten,” said Margo Susco, Commander of the Korean War Veterans Pima Chapter.

“For anyone who visits the cemetery and happens upon our group brick project, they will see the names of these brave men who served, fought and sacrificed for us, and know of the Korean War Veterans, Pima Chapter,” she added.

The idea for the inscribed bricks came after KWVA member Gate Briseno visited AVMC-Marana and realized he wanted to do more for his friends who were buried in the cemetery. Gate, who was an Army Infantry Sgt. First Class in the Korean War said he has lived through the deaths of many men who fought alongside him.

“When I was here to visit my friends Wally, John and James, who all fought in the Korean War I realized that they needed more than just going to find a plot,” Gate said. “There is just so much to learn about these fellas and their experience. But I also realized we needed to honor not just those who has passed but those who are still living.”

When Gate brought the brick sponsorship project back to the KWVA Pima Chapter, the other members of the organization jumped at the idea. By the end of the meeting, Gate already had hundreds of dollars in hand to get the project started. For the next five months, the group raised enough money to get the brick pavers.

While the Pima County group is made up of more than just Korean War Veterans, they decided that as a show of respect, the bricks would only be used for the Korean War Veterans.

But, what makes the project even more special is the fact that the bricks don’t just honor the members of the KWVA Pima Chapter who have passed away, but also have the names of the members who are still living so they can feel honored.

“I am very pleased that our Korean War Veterans will see the names of their fellow Veterans and friends on there, but they will also know that their names are forever enshrined, and our group will forever be represented,” Margo said.

At the beginning of August, the organization held a special dedication ceremony at AVMC –Marana to unveil their project. Emotions ran high as the Veterans’ names on the bricks were read and Taps was played.

“It was a feeling of joy, fulfillment and relief,” Gate said. “It was a lovely remembrance, like a dream come true. I was so happy to see my own name and know that I actually get to see my monument.”

The 27 members of the chapter who served in the Korean War all have bricks laid under Paul Marsh’s eagle and the blank pavers will be saved for any other service members who fought in the Korean War.

Tradition states that placing a penny on a memorial marker is a way to say hello, so now, when Gate visits the cemetery he makes sure to bring the copper coins for all of his friends.

To sponsor a brick paver dedication at Arizona Veterans’ Memorial Cemetery at Marana, contact cemetery staff at [email protected]. Pavers are $100 each.

To donate towards the KWVA Pima Chapter brick dedication project or to join the organization, contact Margo at 520-271-6114 or [email protected].