DHS grad to highlight Veterans Day ceremony

Col. John Chavez and his wife, Rena.

DOUGLAS — Col. John A. Chavez, a 1991 Douglas High School graduate, will be the guest speaker at this year’s Veterans Day ceremony.

The ceremony, hosted by the Fred Hilburn American Legion Post #11, will take place Wednesday at 10 a.m. at the Cochise County Fairgrounds. Face coverings are strongly recommended by those attending the event and social distancing is being encouraged.

“I was so honored to be asked by (the) American Legion’s Scott Babicky to be a guest speaker,” Chavez said. “I can’t wait to give thanks on such a special day to a city that has meant so much to me for so long.”

Chavez, who was born in Phoenix and moved to Douglas with his family in 1983, lives in Chandler with his wife, Rena, and his three children, Abigail, Cristian and Santiago. He works as a real estate agent for HomeSmart and is also the 76th Operational Response Command Deputy Chief of Staff G2 in Salt Lake City, Utah.

“My brother, Patrick, my dad (Cecilio, a deceased veteran), and my grandfather were all born in Douglas,” he said.

Chavez’s mom, Ana, still resides in Douglas while Patrick, a full-colonel in the United States Army, is scheduled to retire in December.

John says some of his fondest memories of growing up in Douglas are skateboarding down the middle of 10th Street, going undefeated his senior year in high school tennis doubles and riding horses at the family corrals.

“I joined the Army to pay for college, but also because I wanted to follow in the footsteps of my dad and my brother,” he said.

Chavez is a graduate of the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, Combined Arms Services Staff School, Military Intelligence Officer Transition Course, Air Defense Artillery Captains Career Course abd Engineer Officer Basic Course.

He was commissioned into the Army in 1997 at Northern Arizona University. He was a branched engineer and was assigned as the transportation officer for ROTC Advanced Camp. Upon completion he was reassigned to the Engineer Officer Basic Course in Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. His first duty station was Fort Carson, Colorado, where he was assigned to the 52nd Engineer Battalion as the maintenance officer. During his time with the 52nd Engineer Battalion he served as the Horizontal Construction Platoon Leader and Battalion Civil Engineer. He was then reassigned to the 4th Engineer Battalion as the Assault and Obstacle Platoon Leader.

His awards and decorations include the Bronze Star, Meritorious Service Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal, Army Reserve Component Achievement Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal, Global War On Terrorism Service Medal, Army Service Ribbon, Armed Forces Reserve Medal with M device and the Overseas Service Ribbon.

In 2017, LTC Chavez was selected as the 301st Military Intelligence Battalion Commander in Phoenix, where he served for two years. Upon completion of that command, he was promoted to the rank of full-colonel.

Chavez states he has a strong sense of appreciation for Douglas’ patriotic history.

“Douglas has always had a phenomenal level of patriotism,” he said. “There are so many hometown heroes of the past and present that showcased the heartbeat of Douglas, such as sacrifice, care, and love for your neighbor and family. The selfless service they’ve shown has provided the city with quite a bit of pride and honor. There have been so many Douglas men and women that have worn a military uniform in war and peace time. The city deserves to be proud of its sons and daughters, the Vietnam museum in the Gadsden Hotel is a great representation of respect. Although I haven’t lived there since 1992, it will always be home.”