An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

HomeNewsroomNewsArticle Display

Aragon family pays visit to facility named for father

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. – Sandy Aragon Kruse, second from left, poses for a photo with her husband Dominic and two 21st Force Support Squadron Airmen during her visit for a tour of the Aragon Dining Facility, Sept. 25, 2015. Aragon Kruse was visiting the area and toured the facility named after her father for his heroism and sacrifice during the Vietnam War. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Rose Gudex)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. – Sandy Aragon Kruse, second from left, poses for a photo with her husband Dominic and two 21st Force Support Squadron Airmen during her visit for a tour of the Aragon Dining Facility, Sept. 25, 2015. Aragon Kruse was visiting the area and toured the facility named after her father for his heroism and sacrifice during the Vietnam War. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Rose Gudex)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. – Sandy Aragon Kruse, daughter of Staff Sgt. Jose Aragon, tours the base museum Sept. 25, 2015. She visited Peterson to tour the Aragon Dining Facility, named after her father who was the first Colorado service member to die in the Vietnam War. The visit to the museum showcased the history of the base and also displayed artifacts that are planned to be used in another display at the museum honoring her father. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Rose Gudex)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. – Sandy Aragon Kruse, daughter of Staff Sgt. Jose Aragon, tours the base museum Sept. 25, 2015. She visited Peterson to tour the Aragon Dining Facility, named after her father who was the first Colorado service member to die in the Vietnam War. The visit to the museum showcased the history of the base and also displayed artifacts that are planned to be used in another display at the museum honoring her father. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Rose Gudex)

(courtesy photo)

(courtesy photo)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- About 250 or more Airmen walk into the Aragon Dining Facility at Peterson Air Force Base each day for meals and don't give much thought about the name on the front of the building. But the name given the dining hall represents a story of valor and wingmanship resulting in the ultimate sacrifice.

The base dining facility is named for Staff Sgt. Jose Aragon from Fountain, Colo. He was one of the first servicemen from Colorado to die in Vietnam and was awarded the Bronze Star posthumously for his heroic efforts to save lives on the flight line when several 500 pound bombs accidentally exploded while B-57B Canberra bombers waited to take off from Bien Hoa Air Base near Saigon.

Aragon's daughter Sandy Aragon Kruse, an elementary teacher in Chicago, and her husband Dominic visited Peterson AFB Sept. 25 to see the facility named for her father and view materials about him at the base museum. The couple was visiting the area to attend a historic play about Staff Sgt. Aragon performed by students at the Fountain elementary school also named for him.

Maj. David Wilson, 21st Force Support Squadron commander, told the Kruses the dining hall is a busy, vibrant place that takes care of people like the man whose name is on it.

Sandy Kruse, who was only one year old when her father died, said it was a great visit, if not somewhat surreal to her. At times, hearing about her father, what he did and how others honor him, she became emotional.

"I hope everyone here is as proud as I am. It should be (named) for everyone here, for all they do," she said.

"It is very humbling to be here around all the people of the Air Force and all they do," said Dominic, a former Marine. "We can't say enough."

On that fateful May 16, 1965, with bombs and airplanes exploding around him, Aragon assisted wounded comrades and helped clear the flight line of equipment that could ignite or explode before one of the secondary blasts caused injuries resulting in his death. In the aftermath, 10 B-57s, 11 Vietnam air force A-1H Skyraiders, and a U.S. Navy F-8 Crusader were destroyed and caused many casualties among air and ground crewmen.

The facility opened in May of 1967, but was officially dedicated in August 1967 by then Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force Paul Airey by the placing of a plaque honoring Aragon.

Peterson SFB Schriever SFBCheyenne Mountain SFSThule AB New Boston SFS Kaena Point SFS Maui