SANTA FE, N.M. — I got to look at Monica Sosaya Halford’s photo album of Pearl Harbor from back in the day when she was a Navy Wave (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service). During the Korean War, she flew between the Naval bases in Alameda, Calif., and Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. What a hottie she was in those little black-and-white Kodak snaps! On the runway surrounded by cute Navy men! On the aircraft carrier with lots of cute Navy men! On Waikiki Beach with her friends and a bunch of cute Navy men!
Not all of them were cute … the Navy Commander stopped just short of ordering a court marshal on Monica, but instead grounded her from flying ever again! Her crime? Insubordination! In conversation, she had nonchalantly addressed an officer as “Ace.” Wow! I guess he never met Samantha Bee … .
Marking Veteran’s Day, and “as a thank you to the military and all veterans who have served our country,” former Seaman Sosaya personally hosted 120 people at her rambling historic eastside family hacienda. The event was a patriotic and festive tribute to two very special American veterans in attendance.
Sgt. Vicente Jimenez is 92. He fought for America and the Allies in three wars, and in three different branches of service, an unusual feat. Sgt. Jimenez served in the Navy in World War II at Pearl Harbor and Okinawa. Afterwards, he joined the Army and went to the Korean War. Then, he proceeded through the rigorous training to become a Marine and went off again to fight in Vietnam.
Later, he decided to join the Air Force, but was declined entry. Why do you think? Imagine … he was not in possession of a high school diploma. Take note, kids!
Along the way, Vicente married Gloria, who was a Harvey Girl – what fun! When Monica invited them to this event, she said, “Bring your family” … and 18 people arrived in tow! Someone decided that a multi-generational portrait had be taken in Monica’s courtyard. There were four generations. Suitable for framing and a record for the family albums.
Full circle, Master Sgt. Jenae Shanks is currently stationed at Pearl Harbor, now called “Joint Base,” for the combined Naval and Air Force operations there. She’s done her stint in Iraq, in “EOD”, Explosive Ordnance Disposal, disassembling mines and bombs. Ex-treme-ly dangerous work. Indeed, Paul and I met a young man last week running errands who had the same job in Afghanistan and his entire left leg was gone. He was walking on a stainless steel prosthetic limb. He said a mine had exploded underneath him while he was taking another one apart, and he counted himself lucky and grateful to be alive at all!
Master Sgt. Shanks said it gives her great pleasure to think about all the lives she has saved by destroying the mines intended to ruin them. She’s been doing this for nearly 20 years! “The hair on the back of your neck stands up. You put blinders on and focus,” she said. And, “You pray.” Her team missed an enemy truck that had come to blow them up by five seconds! Amen.
Even at 87, Monica was dancing to the Mariachi music. She had cooked a lot of the excellent traditional New Mexican food herself, served with real margaritas. Long ago, she was chosen a Living Treasure, and even still is exhibiting her retablos and colchas at Spanish Market. She also managed to assemble a variety of very interesting people together, and a number of true characters, who make Santa Fe what it is – the collage of characters!
This was not a fundraiser – it was an awareness raiser and an appreciation event, conceived of and sponsored by a fabulous lady who has “been there and done that,” and is still at it!
P.S. When the Navy’s head officer learned that the commander had grounded Monica from flying, he overruled him and reinstated her.
Ashley Margetson has a BA in English from UCLA, is a senior real estate broker with Sotheby’s International Realty and has a finger on the pulse of philanthropic activities in Santa Fe. To tell us about an upcoming event: email firstname.lastname@example.org.