Capt. Frank Wilson, a Marine Corps helicopter pilot from Jerome, Ariz., is one of the subjects of the new documentary. Wilson was awarded the Navy Cross, along with two Distinguished Flying Crosses, for his actions during the Korean War. (Photo courtesy of Thomas Perry)

History of Arizona veterans marches on

In 2017, the documentary “Arizona Heroes of World War I” began screening throughout the state. It told multiple stories: of Arizona residents who had fought, and sometimes died, during the Great War; and of The American Legion, which was formed in the wake of that war. A Facebook promotion around the film garnered more than 43,000 views and 70,000 posts.

The project had gotten its start in 2015, when Steve Aguirre – then Department of Arizona membership director – approached a pair of filmmakers with Legion Family connections. Today, Aguirre is 2018-2019 department commander, and under his leadership the department is sponsoring what filmmaker Thomas Perry calls “Phase 2 of our ongoing social media and branding campaign”: a new documentary, “American Legion Heroes,” which will tell the stories of Arizona residents’ service during more recent conflicts, from World War II to Iraq/Afghanistan.

As with the first film, the format is that of a collection of self-contained chapters that can also be played by themselves, each with tags promoting The American Legion. Aguirre comments, “The documentary and its segments shall be utilized as a promotional and marketing tool to advance important American Legion issues such as membership expansion and retention, preserving the memory and honoring the sacrifices of our veterans. As Arizona department commander, I know that communication and education is the key to any organization.”

“American Legion Heroes” is now in production.