Gila Valley Honor Guard named the Pride of Safford

The Gila Valley Honor Guard. Back row: Fernando Gonzales, Harry Nabor, Robert Lane Left to right front: Steve Oller, Bailey Stalder, Esther Jones McDonald, Richard Ortega (hiding behind the flag), Nick Michelangelo, Brando Quinn From front center to right: William Huggins, Tina Smith, Ray Theissen Photo by Lee Patterson

Every month the City of Safford Pride of Safford Committee awards a Safford volunteer group or individual for the service. This month’s recipient is the Gila Valley Honor Guard. The group was nominated by Safford City Councilman Chris Taylor. Taylor submitted the following nomination:

The Gila Valley Honor Guard is a group of dedicated veterans who served our nation in the Armed Forces. But that wasn’t the end of their service. Today they continue to serve the Gila Valley community in a very profound way.

Because we are located far away from any active duty military bases and it is not practical for active duty military honor guards to attend local funerals, the Gila Valley Honor Guard stepped up to fill a major void. They spend hours upon hours every week volunteering their time attending every veteran funeral in the valley to provide final Military honors to fellow veterans who have passed away. Those brave souls who honorably served their nation during their lifetime deserve the very best send off available and the Gila Valley Honor Guard does an amazing job.

The Honor Guard consists of a color guard, a rifle squad to provide a 21 gun salute, a bugler to play TAPS, the Honor Guard Commander and Sergeant-at-arms who conduct the flag folding ceremony and presentation to the next of kin. The level of respect and reverence displayed to each and every family who are suffering through the very difficult time of losing their loved one is a sight to behold. Countless families in the Gila Valley have benefited from this amazing service provided by The Gila Valley Honor Guard.

Their dedication to duty and commitment to selfless service is in keeping with the highest traditions and values of military service and reflects great credit upon all veterans especially those of us in the Gila Valley.

Honor Guard Commander Steve Oller accepted the nomination on behalf of the group who were all in attendance at the Annex Building in Safford on Thursday evening. “This award is much appreciated,” Oller said. Myself and the entire Honor Guard thank Councilman Taylor and the committee for this,” he added.

If you would like to nominate a person or group for the Pride of Safford award, email Pam Frost at