“Enormous Honor”: Military Retirees from New Mexico can be seen in the four-part PBS series “American Veteran”



Cody Ayon, a veteran in the US Navy and the New Mexico National Guard, US Army, appears in the four-part PBS series “American Veteran”. (Courtesy Ronan Killeen)

Cody Ayon grew up knowing that service was a way of life.

The son of a Mexican mother and Native American father, he grew up in Deming and learned that military service is both an important part of his identity and a long family tradition with roots in the larger indigenous community.

As an assistant to a machinist in the Navy, Ayon was thrilled that life at sea was opening his world.

Six years later, when his draft came to an end, Captain Ayon missed that point.

He joined the New Mexico Army National Guard and became an infantry officer overseeing a platoon that would lead him into the Iraq War.

Before serving in Iraq, he attended a tribal ceremony designed to prepare him and returned to a ritual meeting designed to return him to society – all knowing that the war had the potential to change him.

In 2016 Ayon retired from the military. He works as a probation officer and probation officer for the state of New Mexico and lives with his family in Raton.

Ayon’s story is one of the stories from the four-part PBS series “American Veteran”. The first part will air Tuesday, October 26th at 8 p.m. on New Mexico PBS, Channel 5.1. The next three parts will air on November 2nd, 9th and 16th at 8pm. They can also be viewed in the PBS Video App.

The veteran’s experience is followed through the four-part PBS series, a ten-part series of digital shorts, and a nine-part podcast.

“It’s a great honor to be there,” he says. “You contacted me and asked if I would like to take part in the program. I was very happy to be accepted. I am a combat veteran. “

The series depicts the citizen soldiers who fought in the nation’s earliest conflicts to the men and women in today’s all-volunteer armed forces. It offers a rich and deeply moving story told through personal memories that draw civilian viewers into an unknown culture.

Every voice in American Veteran, from the host to the interviewee, is that of a veteran. Their stories add to our evolving understanding of the relationship between Americans who have served and those who have not.

America is home to nearly 18 million military veterans, from the “greatest generation” to the men and women who have come home from recent tours in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Ayon says his story was shot in one day.

He flew to Salt Lake City for the on-camera interviews.

“Before that, I had the opportunity to call PBS on the phone,” he says. “To be honest, I know that in my head I feel like my story isn’t that great and that there are other people’s stories that are more special than mine. But to be part of this narrative is amazing. “

Ayon says he was lucky enough to have returned from military service to support his family and community.

“Without this support, I wouldn’t know where I would be,” he says. “There are so many veterans who don’t have that support and it’s hard for them to get used to life again.”

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