Soldiering on for Michael

Arizona mother carries on Marine son’s legacy through service of her own

It was Mother’s Day 2005 when Margy Bons, a mother of four, heard a knock at the door.

But it wasn’t flowers being delivered or one of her children coming to visit. It was a Marine coming to tell her that her son Michael would never be able to visit again.

He had been killed in Haditha, Iraq, by a vehicle filled with improvised explosive devices.

Bons shared her story at the seventh annual SRPVETS (an employee interest group at Salt River Project) Memorial Day event on May 24. The event honors the men and women who have died serving in the U.S. armed forces.

“There were 22 days between receiving my knock on the door and Memorial Day,” Bons said. “We had a funeral service for Michael on the 14th of May in Pennsylvania and another on May 21 in Phoenix. The Marines guided me, they led me, they carried me.”

Michael was gone, but his service to his country and his comrades didn’t have to end, Bons thought. So she picked up where he left off and channeled her anguish into action.

Bons designed and got approval for an Arizona license plate for Gold Star families — immediate relatives of U.S. armed forces members who have been killed while on active military duty. She also founded Military Assistance Mission (MAM). The organization provides financial and morale aid to Arizona active-duty military members and their families, along with wounded warriors, regardless of overseas deployment status.

“MAM is also Michael’s initials — Michael Adam Marzano,” Bons said. “We wanted to carry on his legacy.”

Bons said that prior to her son’s death she hadn’t thought much about the meaning of Memorial Day beyond barbecues and a day off.

“But now I was honoring my son,” she said. “I realized the importance of the day and how it affects me when folks don’t turn off their cellphones for that moment of silence or don’t think about why they’re truly off of work.”

She added that on Memorial Day it’s important to not only remember those who have died serving our country but to also remember their families and those who are still in harm’s way.

Most important, she said, is to remember that the names etched in the marble of military memorials “are somebody.”

“There was a sacrifice made. That could be my son.”

To learn more about the programs Military Assistance Mission offers, visit

Featured photo by Norma Galvan: Margy Bons shows an Arizona license plate designed for Gold Star families at an SRP Memorial Day event.

Heather Albert

Heather Albert

Heather is an Arizona native who works in Corporate Communications, overseeing SRP’s weekly employee publication. Outside of work, she likes to play sand volleyball, take her dog hiking, travel, read and bake pies.

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