San Manuel Miner
Monday, May 26, was Memorial Day, a day to remember those brave men and women that went to war and never returned. One such man from the Tri-Community who made the ultimate sacrifice was Tony Arriaga. In the May 19, 1966 issue of the San Manuel Miner, the headline read “ORACLE MAN KILLED IN VIETNAM WAR”. It went on to tell the story how Tony Arriaga when he turned 18 left school early to join the Army. While stationed in Hawaii he met a young woman and fell in love. They were married and had three children. When he was killed, his wife was expecting their fourth child. Tony was the first soldier from the Tri-Community area to be killed in the Vietnam War.
Sgt. Arriaga was killed by small arms fire while on patrol in Hau Nghia Province, South Vietnam. He was 27 years old. Tony was buried in Hawaii where he had found a new life with his wife and children. His name is listed on the Vietnam Memorial Wall as being from Waipahu, Hawaii on the Island of Oahu. He had lived in Jerome, Tiger, San Manuel and Oracle. He had attended San Manuel High School but left early. Some of his family members still live in the Tri-Community.
I bring this story up as a reminder to honor those that have given their lives for this country but also to acknowledge that Arriaga’s name is not listed on the memorial plaque at San Manuel High School which recognizes those “students who have given their lives in service of our country”. It is time for his name to be placed on the memorial plaque. He may not have graduated from San Manuel High School but he attended school there and grew up in the area. Let him join his brothers in arms from our community that also made the ultimate sacrifice:
Mark Andrew Bateman – Oracle
Arthur M. Garcia – Mammoth
Johnny M. Garcia – Mammoth
Allen W. Ingram – San Manuel
Norman Garrett – San Manuel
Gary Graves – San Manuel
Another thought on Memorial Day
This Memorial Day should have also been a day to think about those that returned from war. Many of them came back wounded in body and spirit. They deserve to be treated with respect and earned the benefits of their government medical care. The news about the scandal at the Veteran’s Administration Hospital in Phoenix was alarming. There is also news about how the V.A. hospitals find it easier to prescribe opiates and psychotropic drugs for veterans at a high rate because it is cheaper and easier than providing counseling services for veterans suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. While this is going on, the Republican legislators are blocking funding for V.A. programs and facilities. Instead of taking action they are turning the problem into a political game instead of fixing it. They should be ashamed!