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ASU rededicates building plaque in honor of Vietnam War hero

Sutton Hall plaque, Arizona State University Polytechnic Campus
September 19, 2014

A long-lost plaque honoring the memory of a Vietnam War hero was rededicated during a ceremony on Sept. 19 at the Arizona State University Polytechnic campus in Mesa.

The plaque at Sutton Hall, located at the center of campus, adjacent to the Student Union, was remounted to honor the memory of Master Sergeant William C. Sutton, a member of the 37th Air Rescue and Recovery Group who passed away in 1970 on a rescue mission in Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War. On Nov. 25, 1972, the former Williams Air Force Base named Sutton Hall and four other buildings after enlisted men to honor their memories.

The piece of history went missing during the transition of the Williams Air Force Base into the ASU Polytechnic campus. Its whereabouts remained unknown until one day, Keith Sutton, William Sutton’s son, checked his email inbox in April earlier this year.

“I received an email from the auction website Pot of Gold,” he said. “The plaque had been consigned for auction, so it couldn’t be pulled. However, they wanted to see if there was any way they could reunite it with the family.”

Keith Sutton got to work. He made a few phone calls to see if ASU could help. Soon, he received a phone call from Angela Creedon, associate vice president of university affairs.

“Angela called to let me know that ASU will do whatever it takes to return the plaque to the family or its rightful place, whichever the family preferred. We wanted it on the building to help people know whom it's named after,” he said.

With the help of staff member Cathy Panella, ASU was able to place a winning bid, and due to the kindness of the auction house, was able to recover the historical piece without any cost.

William C. Sutton, a Kinston, North Carolina, native, was a three-time recipient of the Distinguished Flying Cross and other prestigious military honors. He joined the Armed Forces at the age of 17 and served for nearly 17 years in the Army, as well as the Air Force.

The rededication ceremony also coincided with the reunion of pilots from the Williams Field Class of 1969. The event began with remarks by Creedon and Steve Borden, retired Navy Captain and the director of ASU’s Pat Tillman Veterans Center.

“To be here today is not only an honor and a privilege, but also the right thing to do,” said Creedon. “The Polytechnic campus is the expression of ASU’s long-standing, positive relationship with the nation’s military and veterans. We have been recognized as a top military friendly school in the nation, and through the Pat Tillman Veterans Center and other efforts, we are committed to supporting veterans and their families through various programs.”

“The transition of the Williams Air Force Base to the ASU Polytechnic campus has helped us to be socially embedded, one of our missions as a New American University,” said Borden. “It is important to us that we are connected to the community that surrounds us and its values. By rededicating this plaque, we honor an American hero, we honor our veterans, and provide an opportunity to students here to connect to the history of this campus.”