Alaska’s military members honored publicly and privately on Veterans Day at JBER

The Alaska National Guard honored service members at its Veterans Day ceremony on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson on Friday. The event, which drew about 150 people to the armory, featured the Alaska Military Youth Academy, comments from Gov. Mike Dunleavy and a Fallen Warrior Ceremony.

Maj. Gen. Torrence Saxe, adjutant general for the Alaska National Guard, recognized and shared stories of 11 veterans with ties to Alaska in his keynote address, including members of the Alaska Territorial Guard, the Coast Guard, the Women’s Auxiliary Corp and others. Saxe said researching those men and women deepened his appreciation. He hoped to convey that Alaskans are “standing on the shoulders of giants,” he said.

“I wanted to make sure people understood it is about the people,” he said. “What they have done allows me, allows you, allows us to do what we do today.”

Saxe said he was encouraged by the atmosphere at the event, their first in-person Veterans Day ceremony at the armory since 2019. “People are talking. They’re sharing,” he said. “This is what we need to do.”

Later in the day, Michael Mott of Eagle River visited the memorial for his wife, Juanita Mott, at Fort Richardson National Cemetery. The Motts, who were married for 33 years, met at Hahn Air Base, a U.S. Air Force installation in Germany. “We loved being in the service together,” he said.

Mott said he has been visiting the cemetery multiple times a week since Juanita died in December 2019. He comes no matter the weather, he said, including recently when it was minus 6 degrees. “I was perfectly comfortable,” he said.

Mott said he reflects on their closeness when he visits. The two never fought for as long as they were together and would often end the day laughing, he said. “It’s peaceful,” Mott said of the cemetery. “I get that opportunity to be close to her.”

[Watch: Airline agent sings national anthem at Anchorage airport on Veterans Day]

Marc Lester

Marc Lester is a multimedia journalist for Anchorage Daily News. Contact him at