Group trying to create Pinal County memorial for soldiers killed, missing in action

Posted at 6:29 AM, Jul 04, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-04 15:24:59-04

It's just a gravel lot right now but in time the wide open space will look nothing like it does now.

"The city of Casa Grande donated the land for us which was very nice," said Nancy Fassbender with the Pinal County Veterans Memorial Foundation. "We have an acre and half to make a park out of this."

But not just any park. It will eventually be Pinal County's only memorial dedicated to local soldiers who were killed or missing in action. That's about 250 names.

"When you find out that there’s just been that many people in Pinal County alone that have lost their life and paid that ultimate sacrifice,  that's pretty astonishing and it hits you pretty hard," said Tom Bagnall with the foundation.

Soldiers like Mathew Juan. It's believed he actually lied about his age so he could enlist in the army. He died in 1918.

Donald Ellis enlisted in the Navy and was killed trying to help other soldiers who were wounded by the North Vietnamese Army. He was just 22.

But the names and stories just keep going.

Fassbender has researched all 250 fallen Pinal County soldiers.

"To know that the veterans did unfortunately die for us and to educate the children what freedom actually means," said Fassbender.

The group has raised about $100,000 so far. They need at least another $100,000 to make this memorial a reality. It's the least they can do to remember so many who gave so much more.