Today: Aug 26 , 2019

Prescott Citizens Move to Honor Fallen Yavapai County Heroes
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02 September 2015  
Photos courtesy Guidance Helicopter. Photographer: Bryan "B-Roll" Matuskey

If you've walked the west side of the courthouse plaza in downtown Prescott, you have most likely seen the Veterans Memorial statue and plaque. What you may not have noticed is that it needs to be updated as the last few years of war have unfortunately taken the lives of at least six Yavapai County residents.

Betty Bourgault noticed this and took action. Bourgault, a relentless advocate for the silent, is known for her work with cemeteries and memorials in Prescott. She is a tireless volunteer, working with the Yavapai Cemetery Association, making sure those due recognition receive the respect and honor they deserve. A great example of Bourgault's recent work is the story she wrote about adopting the grave of early 1900's pastor Father Edmund Claessen at Citizen's Cemetery in Prescott. Her story chronicles the life of Claessen and his untimely death. Now Bourgault is seeking information on what happened to the memorial monument to Father Claessen and if there are any remaining photos.

“I was shocked and very disappointed to see that the war memorial had not been updated since Operation Desert Storm which ended in February of 1991. I went home and immediately started my research and in no time found two servicemen from Prescott who died in Operation Iraqi Freedom. They are Reese David Moreno, Pvt. U.S. Army who died in Balad, Iraq at the young age of 19 on Nov. 24, 2006 and Tenzin L. Samten, Spec. U.S. Army, who died in Tallil Iraq at the age of 33 on March 12, 2008,” said Bourgault in an email to PrescotteNews.

Luckily for Bourgault, a veteran took notice of her work to update the Veterans' Memorial and volunteered to help.  Phil Goode is a U.S. Army veteran, 101st Airborne Division, Vietnam, and a resident of Prescott, AZ.  He had read a letter that Bourgault wrote to the editor in the Prescott newspaper in May and then took the time to track her down by visiting her church. Since Goode was so involved in veteran organizations and activities in Prescott, she welcomed his assistance.

"Betty’s interest and diligent efforts to uncover and document the historical records of Prescott, Yavapai County, and its residents helps our history come alive. Due to historians like her, we can truly enjoy the great and significant heritage that Prescott and Yavapai county is known for.  She certainly helped me to recognize a historical deficiency that needed to be corrected on our Veterans Memorial monument," remarks Goode.

The Vietnam veteran knew he could help Bourgault. "I have a lot of experience in veteran related projects and I have worked on five political campaigns (from city council races to U.S. Congress – including the recently successful mayoral campaign of Harry Oberg’s) so that can be a big help in navigating projects like this that can sometimes become politically sensitive," says Goode.

Goode brought the effort to the attention of Supervisor Chip Davis and state Rep. Noel Campbell after the Memorial Day ceremony at the Citizen’s Cemetery in Prescott.  That led to a meeting with Supervisors Craig Brown (himself a Vietnam combat special forces veteran) and Rowle Simmons who were both very supportive of the project. Since then, Bourgault and Goode have received support from Tom Thurman and Jack Smith too.

"Rep. Noel Campbell’s help has been terrific. He introduced the project to John Stonecipher, CEO, Guidance Aviation, a leading employer and trainer of veterans in the state. Subsequently, Stonecipher has pledged matching funds to make sure the project is completed. I’ve also received support from the Sunup Rotary in Prescott, Greenlee Designer Surfaces, Arizona Tile, Prescott TrueValue Hardware, FooteWork Auto License and Title, VFW posts in Prescott and Prescott Valley, American Legion Post in Prescott and various individuals," states Goode.

To date, $724 has been received and an additional $1300 has been pledged (Not including John Stonecipher's and Guidance Aviation’s matching pledge) toward a$4000 goal.

On September 8th, Goode will be providing a PowerPoint presentation to the Board of Supervisors outlining the project, the committee, committee members, a list of the Yavapai county veterans that have been identified (along with a bio of each) to be added to the plaque and a request for an endorsement / sanction of theproject by the Board.  Goode expects a number of veterans from the local VFW and American Legion posts to attend along with one of his committee members, Josh Holt, who is a young Iraq war Marine vet and also the current Commander of VFW Post 541 in Prescott.

If you would like to make a contribution, please contact Mr. Phil Goode at pgoode76@gmail.com

Special thanks to contributors: Betty Bourgault, Phil Goode, David Roy, Guidance Aviation
Photo Credit: Guidance Aviation
Photographer: Bryan "B-Roll" Matuskey