Honoring Our Heroes 2018 YMCA Military Ball


2018 YMCA Military Ball

From 5:00 pm

At Tucson Convention Center

2018 Council of Heroes Honorees

1) Richard Fimbres

Tucson City Council

Most people know Richard Fimbres for his work on the Tucson City Council. Before that he had a distinguished military career in the U.S. Army. He served as a military policeman in the Vietnam era. He was instrumental in the construction of a World War II memorial in Armory Park. 

2) Michael Eastman

VP, Comcast

Michael Eastman describes his time in the Army as both fun and intense. It taught him “how to deal with racism and bigotry – and most importantly my self-worth,” he said. 

Eastman says he’s honored to be recognized among other veterans. “The YMCA has been such a great anchor in our community. It’s humbling to be recognized by an organization that defines community support and service,” he said. 

As a Council of Heroes honoree, he hopes to highlight the challenges facing veterans, specifically homeless vets and those in need of healthcare.

3) David Hutchens

CEO, Tucson Electric Power, UNS Energy Corp., UniSource Energy Services

David Hutchen’s military service began as an undergraduate at the University of Arizona in the Navy ROTC unit. He was commissioned on graduation day and spent five years as a nuclear submarine officer. 

Hutchens would like to use his service on the Council of Heroes to draw attention to the sacrifices military members make for our nation. In addition, he’d like to see a better way for veterans to transition to service in the private sector. 

“I know this from personal experience as I tried to figure out how an aerospace engineer whose only experience was running nuclear power plants and shooting ballistic missiles and torpedoes would find a job outside the military,” he said.

4) Tony Penn

President & CEO, United Way of Tucson and Southern Arizona 

Tony Penn began serving in the Air Force right out of college. 

“It gave me a level of discipline that has served me well,” he said. “It was the first time I saw what I might be able to do with my career. It increased my ambition.”

Penn said he’s honored to be named to the Council of Heroes, and excited about the opportunity to raise money for a great cause. “Military service meant a lot to me as a young man and I’m excited to share that message,” he said. 

5) Lt. Gen. Eugene ‘Gene’ Santarelli

Retired U.S. Air Force

Retired Lt. Gen. Gene Santarelli served more than 32 years in the U.S. Air Force, a career that took him around the world as a pilot and in command positions. 

Santarelli said he learned many valuable lessons in the service – like hard work as well as integrity, which he describes as doing what’s right even when no one is watching. 

“Our military and veterans have been part of the Tucson community for more than 75 years. They’ve been some of the most committed citizens to improving our neighborhoods,” Santarelli said. 

He plans to “continue to highlight how important our military and veterans are to the Tucson community and the contributions they continue to make to improving Tucson life.”

6) Melvin ‘Butch’ Morgan

President, Vietnam Veterans of America, Tucson Chapter 106

Butch Morgan served as a Marine for more than 40 years. 

Morgan is passionate about the military and helping servicemen and women. 

“There’s a lot of homelessness among veterans,” he said. “My goal is to reach out and help those needing help.” 

7) JoAnna Mendoza

Office of Congressman 

Tom O’Halleran

JoAnna Mendoza recently retired from the Marines and said she’s still getting used to civilian life. “Old habits die hard,” she said. 

Since leaving the military, she’s worked in Congressman Tom O’Halleran’s Casa Grande office to help other veterans successfully transition when they leave the military. She also works to address veteran homelessness, particularly homelessness among female veterans. 

“That’s not as highly recognized,” she said. “I want to bring visibility to this – particularly those in rural areas.” 

8) Jessica Christo

Former U.S. Coast Guard, Student at Northern Arizona University

A former Coast Guardsman, Jessica Christo says she was shocked and honored to be named to the 2018 Council of Heroes. She’s currently attending Northern Arizona University and working at Diamond Children’s Hospital. 

“I enlisted when I was just 20 years old,” she said. “It helped me grow up. It gave me discipline and a work ethic.” 

Christo hopes to reenlist after she completes her education and give back by serving as a nurse. “The Coast Guard has great opportunities for nurses,” she said. 

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