Sig Alumni Help Eagle Scout & Troop 446 (Scottsdale) Honor Ira Hayes, U.S.M.C.

In March 2009, members of the Flagstaff Sigma Chi Alumni Association assisted Life Scout T. J. Decker and Troop 446 (Scottsdale) in Decker’s Eagle Scout project to honor fellow Arizonan and WWII Marine Ira Hayes, one of the flag raisers atop Mt. Suribachi during the Battle of Iwo Jima, Feb. 23,1945.  The project, conceived and managed by Decker, included a memorial garden, plaque, and the Ira Hayes Soaring Eagle Scholarship Fund at Hayes’s elementary school, the 100 year-plus old St. Peter’s Mission School in Haye's home village of Bapchule, Arizona on the Gila River Indian Community (Pima)

Assisting T.J. and Troop 446 were Sister Martha Carpenter and the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity, local students of St. Peter's Mission School, Trrop 446 parents,  T.J.’s parents, David & Denise Decker, NORTHERN ARIZONA 1980, his uncle Ted G. Decker, Jr., NORTHERN ARIZONA 1975, as well as Steve Ewing, NORTHERN ARIZONA 1975, Steve Shields, NORTHERN ARIZONA 1980, and Wayne Connelley, NORTHERN ARIZONA 1975.  Special guests of the day were  T.J.'s grandmother, Mrs. Theodore G. "Peggy" Decker, Sr. and Decker family friend and Battle of Iwo Jima Veteran Mr. Robert C. Strome, U.S.M.C. 5th Marine Division.  St. Peter's Mission School and Bapchule Village is just south/southwest of the Gila River Bridge on Interstate-10.  Look for the white buildings and large blue awning covers. 


T.J. and his dad worked on the leadup to the project quite a bit, discovering the particulars of how to do a memorial project at a very traditional village.  Total dollar cost $1,200.00 with about 600 man-hours.  Sister Martha Carpenter and the good sisters of St. Peter's Mission School, who have autonomy on their grounds, "took T.J. under their wing" and the project took off.  Sister Martha is well known for developing relationships for St. Peter's Mission School with Bill Bidwell and the Arizona Cardinals, and with Joe Garagiola.

Left:  The Battle of Iwo Jima, Feb. 19 - March 26, 1945. Associated Press photographer Joe Rosenthal's famous, and iconic, photo taken atop Mt. Suribachi on Feb. 23, 1945 of the second flag-raising.  Fellow Arizonan Ira Hayes is on the far left (reaching upward).
(Note: At least three Arizona State Teachers College at Flagstaff (NAU) Lumberjacks (not Sigma Chis) were on Iwo Jima; Joe Rolle, U.S. Army (Tank Maintenance Co., attached to the 3rd & 5th Marine Divisions), Merritt Savage, U.S.M.C. (Navy Cross), Don Carlos Nicoll, U.S. Navy Corpsman (K.I.A.).   

Left: Cpl. Ira Hayes, USMC.  Veteran of Pacific battles Vella Lavella, Bougainville, Solomans, and Iwo Jima.

Right: Significant Sig Maj. Gen. Keller E. Rockey, USMC, GETTYSBURG 1909, Commander, 5th Marine Division (with phone), and other officers, direct operations during Battle of Iwo Jima, Feb. 21, 1945 from sandbagged position on Iwo Jima.

Below: Scouts working shoulder-to-shoulder with local Pima students of Haye's elementary school, St. Peter's Mission School, in Bapchule, Arizona. Here they are leveling groung for the memorial garden.  In the foreground is the exposed sahuaro cactus-rib reinforcing for the adobe wall, a traditional "sandwich-method" of adobe wall construction in the Southwest.  Standing to the right are Sigs Steve Shields, NORTHERN ARIZONA 1980, (red shirt & camo shorts [?!]) and David Decker, NORTHERN ARIZONA 1980 (cowboy hat).
Below: Finishing up the wall and the garden (behind the wall) planted.  T.J.'s dad, Dave Decker, is leaning over back wall (in cowboy hat) with other Sigs getting muddy with wet adobe. The scouts towards the front are taking a break before planting the potted shrubs.
Below: Troop 446 (Scottsdale) [future Sigs & Marines], parents, and Sigs standing behind the commemorative native flagstone plaque; T.J. Decker (front row seventh fron left), on T.J.'s right is Decker family friend and Battle of Iwo Jima Veteran Robert C. Strome, U.S.M.C. 5th Marine Division, and front row second from the left is T.J.'s dad Dave Decker. Back row, Steve Ewing, Wayne Connelley, Ted Decker, & Steve Shields
Below: The finished product. 
Below: Flagstone Memoral Plaque (apologies for the poor focus):