Veteran marker.


Community unites to honor resting vets

Portales, NM

Surrounded by dairies and farms in eastern New Mexico, Portales is a small community of over 12,000 residents and a couple of grumpy old men, which may be a reference to Commander Randy Dunson and myself, Vice Commander Andy Nazario. It was established in 1909 and is the seat of Roosevelt County. 11 miles from Canon Air Force Base, its main industry are dairy farms and Eastern New Mexico University. The Portales American Legion, Blair-McDermott Post 31, took on a project of bringing honor back to resting veterans in a local cemetery project. Often the graves are difficult to locate; Post Commander Randy Dunson and his wife Nancy walk the cemetery in Portales for exercise, and while doing so look for veteran headstones for Memorial Day flags. They noticed some could not be seen at all, and others neglected and covered with dirt and grass. Some had sunk into the ground and covered with grass. This is not so much a reflection of the families or the ground crews, but as time goes by there may not be anyone left to care for the plots, which are owned by the families. Dunson presented the need of grave conditions, and the post decided to take on a project to restore these headstones to honor those laying at rest so others could identify them. We worked on a plan of action to raise the buried stones, clean them and get the needed material to complete the project. We decided to lay two paving stones and glue them together, and then glue the cleaned footstones or headstones to them. We used sand to level and raise the stones to a level equal with the ground so the cemetery mowers would not damage them. Stones were marked with small flags to help workers locate them with instructions on the flag of what the stone required done. Because of the small number and age of post members we would need help. Dunson and I are also members of the local VFW Post 9515, and I am also a member of American Legion Riders Chapter 2/Post 25 of Clovis, N.M. We presented the project to these groups along with Boy Scouts Troop 411 of Clovis. The Post 9515 Auxiliary offered to provide lunch for the volunteers. We came up with a date to have our first workday, Nov. 6, 2021. Dunson posted it on our Facebook page as well as word of mouth. The VFW had contacts with Cannon AFB and invited them to help. The local newspaper, The Eastern New Mexico News, published an article of the event.

Finished marker.

Commander Dunson working.

Over 98 volunteers.


Legion Riders.

U.S. Air Force volunteers.

Eastern New Mexico University students.

BSA Troop 411 eating lunch at VFW.
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