War Veteran Is 'Dogged, Aggressive, Informed'

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Jack Sheahan wears the title of resident curmudgeon most comfortably.

Ask him what three words best describe him and his response "dogged, aggressive, informed" says it all.

The highly decorated World War II veteran has an opinion on most every topic of local concern, and he doesn't mind sharing them with you. Here is just a sampling:

"They hired this lady from San Francisco to come in here and tell us what Payson needs. Paid her $35,000. She says, 'Jobs and low-cost housing.' Hell, I could have told them that for a lot less than $35,000."

"Since about 1992, the town has had an Americans With Disabilities committee and I haven't seen them doing a heck of a lot. They used to write warnings (to people parked in handicapped spaces) and had some fund-raisers, but it seems to have fallen apart."

"I have to raise the roof with those carnival banners they've got hanging from lightposts out there. I was mad when they started that simply because we were known as the flag capital of Arizona. Next thing you know, they're taking down all those flags and putting those banners up.

"We're at war and the body bags are going to be coming home pretty soon, and yet we don't show any loyalty to our country."

When it comes to patriotism and rights for the disabled, Sheahan makes no apologies.

"I'm a flag waver and that's all there is to it," he said. "I've paid my dues and I can prove it ... My medals are hanging up there and I'm proud of them."

The medals were earned during World War II when Sheahan was "a top flight grunt, a PFC in the infantry." He saw a lot of combat, including the infamous Battle of the Bulge.

"There were 50,000 killed and injured up there," he said. "It was the biggest land war ever fought by the United States."

Sheahan was seriously wounded April 14, 1945.

"My dad got a telegram saying I was wounded in action, and they never said anymore," he recalled.

"I had been hit six times once in the elbow, twice in the stomach and three times in the leg.

"They didn't take my leg off until November of '47. I was in the hospital all that time while they tried to save it."

Sheahan moved to Payson from the Valley 22 years ago, and he admits he spends a lot of his time "creating havoc for the town council." He believes the best people simply don't run for office.

"A lot of these guys (think that) getting on the council is like being head of the high school senior dance," he said. "It's a big thing to them."

He mentions Ray Frost and Dan Adams as private citizens with the background and experience to make good councilmembers.

"But you ask them to run, and they say, 'I don't need that crap,'" he said.

Ask Sheahan to name a local politician he liked, and he mentions former mayor Willard Taylor, for whom the public swimming pool is named.

"I respected him the most," Sheahan said. "He was a good man, and he wouldn't BS you."

Sheahan also considers himself a friend of the Tonto Apaches, and believes the town doesn't appreciate their contributions to the community.

"I tell them, 'You don't get it out what you've done for this town the baseball uniforms, the thousands of dollars for Christmas charities,'" he said. "I tell them, 'You need to get this out so the rednecks in town will stop this BS.'

"I think the Tonto Apaches are a credit to the neighborhood."

And speaking of the neighborhood, if Jack Sheahan were named king of Payson, the first thing he'd do is extend Green Valley Park all the way to Sawmill Crossing.

"Ninety-five percent of the people coming through here don't know there's a lake down there," he said. "Payson's biggest problem is that it has no center of town."

That and the fact that it has too many politicians.

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