Bill Sahno has a mission in life. A career military man for 30 years, the retired Marine wants to see patriotism as the foundation and the binding element of the community's political and economic systems.
"Patriotism is one of the best common denominators to help us define what our community is all about," he said.
He said by coming back to patriotism, the community can heal some of the rifts recent divisiveness has created.
Patriotism is also something Sahno has a close acquaintance with: he was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the Marine Corps in 1962. He served combat tours in Vietnam and in various command and staff positions around the world. He spent his final years of active duty in high level command and staff positions.
"My career highlight was serving as the Deputy Commander of the Defense Depot in Ogden, Utah," Sahno said.
He played an active role in and in support of the Vietnam War, Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm in the Persian Gulf War.
He retired at Barstow, Calif., as a Colonel of the Marines after 30 years of continuous active duty service, earning among other personal awards, the nation's sixth highest award, "The Defense Superior Service Medal" and the seventh highest, "The Legion of Merit".
Sahno is working to strengthen the community's patriotism through the Payson Flag Committee, which he has been a member of since 1996.
He sees the political system -- democracy -- as something separate from the economic system of capitalism.
"Our economic system is dog eat dog," he said. "Democracy is a precious gift."
Sahno came to Payson in 1994 and discovered he had malignant melanoma. He dealt with that and went on to become a charter member of the Rim country chapter of the Marine Corps League in which he earned its highest award, "Distinguished Service Medal, Gold."
Through the Marine Corps League Sahno also found something a life in the military had never really afforded him, close, personal friends. He met former Mayor Ray Schum and former Town Councilor Jack Monschein in the league.
"I was a consultant and chief advisor to them," Sahno said.
It was Schum who introduced Sahno to Lee Pretsch, who asked for his help in developing the structure and format for the Veterans Day programs she presented in the schools. Sahno then went on to help with the flag raising ceremony at the Green Valley Park Veterans Memorial and the programs held for Memorial Day over the past several years.
"We have a good program now," he said of the Sunday and Monday events.
The program is so good, Sahno and his fellow Payson Flag Committee members are ready to become a nonprofit corporation, the Payson Patriotic Committee. He said the group will take on the responsibility of preparing and presenting programs not only for Memorial Day and Veterans Day, but for Flag Day and the Fourth of July as well.
"Lee (Pretsch) passed the baton and I picked it up," he said.
It is that baton of patriotism Sahno sees as a way to help Rim country residents define their community.
"We have to take care of each other in this town," he said. "Payson is a caring community and most fortunate for having ... many volunteers who are active and care about their community."
Name: Bill Sahno
Employer: U.S Marine Corps, 30 years
Birthplace: St. Louis, Mo.
Family: Two sons, two daughters, two grandchildren. "One of my sons, Mike, retired as a Marine corporal and is now an air marshal with Homeland Security."
Personal motto: Achieve high quality results through professionalism and teamwork.
Inspiration: The values and principles of the U.S. Marine Corps which has always been my second family.
Greatest feat: Survival
Favorite hobby or leisure activity: volunteer community service
Three words that describe me best are ... professional, organized, dedicated
I don't want to brag but ... I survived cancer.
The person in history I'd most like to meet is: Chesty Pullar, a Marine Corps legend.
Luxury defined: Peace
Dream vacation spot: Somewhere in Tahiti
Why Payson? I was here in the 1960s and liked it. I'm here for all the same reasons most residents are.