Ernest O. Valdez was born on Sept. 24, 1929 to his beloved parents Betty Olvera and Santana Valdez in Miami, Ariz. He entered eternal rest peacefully on Jan. 1, 2019 at home, surrounded by loved ones.
As a young child, Ernest survived the Great Depression, which influenced his life. He loved his country and served her proudly entering the United States Army at a very young age. During his service in the Army, he received the Army Occupational Medal, World War II Victory Medal, Korean Service Medal, W/2 Bronze Service Star, United Nations Service Medal, and Soldier’s Medal. As a young soldier, Ernest was honored to march at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Washington, D.C. His duty at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier had a positive impact on his life and he returned with family members late in his life to visit the tomb and to reminisce of the time he spent there.
During the Korean War, Ernest and several other soldiers were resting when a grenade was accidentally knocked to the ground and the pin released ready to ignite the grenade. Ernest threw his steel helmet over the grenade and fell on top of the helmet taking the brunt force of the grenade with his body to save the lives of his fellow soldiers.
After Ernest served in the Army, he enlisted in the United States Navy and continued to serve for another 27 years, earning additional honors and medals, until his retirement. During this time, the Navy honored Ernest’s request for a local field base for local reservists. This resulted in the Cutter Airport base of the Navy that reservists in the Globe-Miami and surrounding communities utilized for many years.
Ernest also served in his community. He was elected to the Council of the Town of Miami and helped to maintain the quality of living for all Miami residents. He also served his workplace at the Copper Cities and Pinto Valley Mines as a union steward, vigorously representing the labor rights and standards for all his fellow employees — a feat of which he was extremely proud.
Ernest was a loving and devoted husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather. He was preceded in death by the love of his life, Sally Valdez; his daughter Beverly, great-grandson, Rian Kaleb Sanchez; great-granddaughter, Avery Sue Bryant; beloved parents Betty Olvera and Santana Valdez, and sister Charlotte Gutierrez. Ernest is survived by his son, Ernest Ron Valdez (Sue), of Los Angeles; daughter, Noreen Prater (Jeff), of Miami; son, Eddie Valdez (Chandera), of Mesa, daughter, Arlene Valdez, of Miami; daughter, Debbie Robles of Mesa; 20 grandchildren, 26 great-grandchildren and one great-great-grandchild.
Services for Ernest will be held Friday, Jan. 11, 2019 at Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church in Miami. Visitation will begin at 9 a.m., Rosary at 9:30 a.m., Mass at 10 a.m., proceeded by military honors. A reception will be held following the service at Our Lady Center, next door to the church in Miami.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament Church in Miami.
Assisting the family is Bulman Miles Funeral Services, Globe.
Ernest’s duties at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier left an everlasting impact on his life and he had a profound respect for all those who served and for those who made the ultimate sacrifice. He took it upon himself to honor them close to the Bullion Plaza Museum, which is the former school he attended. He placed the memorial under the United States Flag on Memorial Day 2009. It reads:
“In Commemoration of all those who made the supreme sacrifice and took the solemn oath to support and defend the constitution of the United States of America against all enemies foreign and domestic. To bear truth, faith and allegiance to the same, so help me God.”
By Chief Petty Officer, Ernest Valdez, USN-R Ret.