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2014 Kentucky Veterans Hall Of Fame

Induction notes from the Kentucky Veterans Hall of Fame

Join us in honoring the 27 veterans recognized at the first Kentucky Veterans Hall of Fame ceremony. The Medal of Honor winners are listed first, and then the remaining honorees are listed in alphabetical order.

COMMAND SERGEANT MAJOR GARY L. LITTRELL (Medal of Honor) was born in Henderson, Kentucky, on October 26, 1944. He attended Arsenal Technical High School, Indianapolis, Indiana, and the University of Texas atEl Paso. His military education included graduation from the United States ArmyAirborne School, Ranger School, Air Assault School, and Sergeants Major Academy. Littrell enlisted in the United States Army in 1961 and attained command sergeant major rank on August 29,1982. 

He served more than 22 years in the combat arms field, infantry, and diversified assignments, including Ft. Ord, CA; Ft. Campbell, KY; Ft. Stewart, GA; Ft. Bliss, TX; Ft. Carson, CO; Okinawa; Panama; Dominican Republic; and the Republic of Vietnam.

 Command Sergeant Major Littrell’s military awards and decorations include the Medal of Honor, Legion of Merit, three Bronze Star Medals with V device, Meritorious Service Medal, Air Medal, Purple Heart, Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Expeditionary Medal-Dominican Republic, Vietnam Service Medal, noncommissioned Officer Professional Development Ribbon, Army Service Ribbon, Overseas ServiceRibbon, Republic of Vietnam Cross of Gallantry, Republic of Vietnam Ranger Badge, Ranger Tab, Combat Infantry Badge, Master Parachutist Badge, and Air Assault Badge.

 Command Sergeant Major Littrell retired from the military service in October 1983.

In 1986 he began a second profession as a veterans service officer. He has worked as a service officer with the Paralyzed Veterans of America and the Florida Department of Veterans Affairs. He was the Veterans Affairs officer supervisor of the Bay Pines VA Medical Center in Bay Pines, Florida (now known as the C.W. Bill Young VA Medical Center), until November 8, 1993, where he accepted the position of patient relations specialist at the James A. Haley Veterans’ Hospital in Tampa, Florida. He retired from the Veterans’ Hospital in 1998.
Following his retirement, he served as vice president of the Congressional Medal of Honor Society from 2001 until September 2003, at which time he was elected to a two-year term as president. He was re-elected in 2005 to another two-year term.

SERGEANT DAKOTA L. MEYER (Medal of Honor) lives in Columbia, Kentucky. He served in the United States Marine Corps and is one of five living Medal of Honor recipients from the Commonwealth of Kentucky.

Meyer was born on June 26, 1988, growing up in Columbia. In 2006, after graduation from Green County High School, he enlisted in the Marine Corps and completed basic training at Marine Corps Recruit Depot in Parris Island.

Meyer deployed to Fallujah, Iraq, in 2007 as a scout sniper with the 3d Battalion, 3d Marines. He gained national attention for his actions in Afghanistan during his second deployment in Kunar Province with Embedded Training Team 2-8.

Meyer was awarded the Medal of Honor in a ceremony on September 15, 2011. When a White House staffer contacted Meyer to arrange the ceremony, Meyer asked if he could have a beer with the president. He received an invitation to the White House for the afternoon before the ceremony. Meyer also requested that when he was honored, simultaneous commemorative services should be held at other associated locations to honor the memory of his colleagues who died or were mortally wounded during the ambush and his rescue attempts.

Four Americans died in the ambush: 1st Lt. Michael Johnson, 25, of Virginia Beach, VA; Staff Sgt. Aaron Kenefick, 30, of Roswell, GA; Gunnery Sgt. Edwin Wayne Johnson Jr., 31, of Columbus, GA; and Hospital Corpsman Third Class James R. Layton, 22, of Riverbank, CA. A fifth man, Army Sgt. 1st Class Kenneth W. Westbrook, 41, of Shiprock, NM, later died from his wounds.

Meyer is the youngest living Medal of Honor recipient for either Operation Iraqi Freedom or Operation Enduring Freedom—Afghanistan and the first living Marine in 38 years to be so honored.

MASTER SERGEANT WILBURN KIRBY ROSS (Medal of Honor), born May 12, 1922, is a retired United States Army soldier and a recipient of the United States military’s highest decoration—the Medal of Honor—for his actions in World War II.

Ross was born in Strunk, Kentucky. As a boy he would practice his marksmanship by placing a match in the crook of a tree and lighting it from a distance with a round from his .22 caliber rifle. He started working in the coal mines at age 18, but he soon joined the United States Army. By October 30, 1944, he was serving as a private in Company G, 30th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division. On that day, near Saint-Jacques, France, Ross manned a machine gun through repeated German assaults, holding off the enemy even after his supporting riflemen had run out of ammunition. During the incident, Ross noticed what he thought was the body of a deceased German soldier. This individual was in fact alive, and an American lieutenant, who was watching Ross the entire time. This lieutenant later reported Ross’ acts of valor and recommended him for the Medal of Honor. For his actions during the battle, Ross was issued the Medal of Honor six months later, on April 14, 1945.

Ross reached the rank of master sergeant before retiring from the Army. He now lives in DuPont, Washington. The town named a community park after him and erected a memorial, on which is inscribed Ross’ official Medal of Honor citation.

PRIVATE FIRST CLASS ERNEST EDISON “ERNIE” WEST (Medal of Honor) is a former United States Army soldier and a recipient of the United States military’s highest decoration, the Medal of Honor, for his actions in the Korean War. He currently lives in Wurtland, Kentucky.

West was raised in an orphanage at the Methodist Children’s Home in Versailles, Kentucky. He returned to visit the home a few years after receiving the Medal of Honor.

Born on September 2, 1931, in Russell, Kentucky, West was drafted from Wurtland in 1950. By October 12, 1952, he was serving in Korea as a private first class with Company L, 14th Infantry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division. After his unit was ambushed near Sataeri on that day, he ran through heavy fire to rescue his wounded commander, Capt. George Gividen. As he was pulling the man to safety, three hostile soldiers attacked. West shielded the commander with his body and killed the attackers with his rifle, suffering a wound that resulted in the loss of his eye. Despite this injury, he remained on the field and assisted in the evacuation of other wounded men, at one point killing three more hostile soldiers. For these actions, he was awarded the Medal of Honor just over a year later, on January 29, 1954.

MAJOR RONALD ALLARI served in the United States Army during the Vietnam War and beyond. He currently lives in Alexandria, Kentucky.

Following his retirement as a pilot for Comair,the Delta Connection, based in Cincinnati, Major Allari established and administered a Veterans Service Office in Alexandria, Kentucky, serving the northern counties of Kentucky. His office provides free assistance to veterans, including answering questions about benefits, filing claims, and representing veterans with the Department of Veterans Affairs, Department of Defense, and other government agencies. He does all of this as a volunteer. His greatest joy is seeing a veteran or widow of a veteran have their claim approved and receive benefits to which they are entitled that they were not receiving. His joy is to give back to the people he has served with and are deserving.

He is a life member of the Vietnam Veterans of America and currently serves as the Veterans Service Officer for Chapter 88. He is also a life member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars and serves in a leadership capacity and as Veterans Service Officer with them. He is also a life member of the American Legion and has served in leadership capacities there. He also has a lengthy leadership history in the Masons with both the Blue Lodge and Scottish Rite.

William Rachford Jr., the mayor of Alexandria, Kentucky, says, “Ron consistently exhibits an outstanding conscientious attitude and effort and has been a consummate professional in his efforts to assist our veterans. He has unselfishly worked an enormous number of hours as a ‘volunteer’ managing our Veterans Service Office. His in-depth knowledge of the VA criteria and processes makes him an invaluable resource and his tireless efforts have benefited literally thousands of veterans in our area and throughout the Commonwealth of Kentucky. He is an outstanding example of what a long-time, dedicated military man is.”

COLONEL LARRY LANE ARNETT served in the United States Army during the Vietnam War. He makes his home in Frankfort, Kentucky.

Larry Arnett excelled as a military officer and has further distinguished himself by his actions as a proficient, capable, and highly accomplished leader at both the state and community levels.

Concurrent with his service in the Kentucky National Guard, he was employed with Kentucky state government where his contributions have been extensive. His 33-year commitment to public service is exceptional and has resulted in many positive changes at both state and community levels. His level of advocacy for veterans and their families is extraordinary.

His career achievements include:
1. He directed the construction, equipping, and staffing of the 285-bed Thomson-Hood Veterans Center, a $16 million project completed on time and under budget.

2. He developed and implemented the Vietnam Veterans Bonus Program, resulting in more than 105,000 applications being processed with a disbursement of $32 million to Kentucky veterans.

3. He supervised and directed the highly complex operation of the state’s second largest medical facility (Thomson-Hood Veterans Center) for five years. He received the state’s highest rating of superior facility for overall efficiency during each year of operation.

4. He coordinated state and federal legislative efforts to obtain funding for the construction of two additional 120-bed veteran nursing homes in 1998.

5. He organized and led the establishment of the Homeless Vet Recovery Fund, a highly successful effort to rehabilitate the home of a Vietnam veteran. The home of the veteran, who was afflicted with PTSD, was destroyed by a fire that resulted in him living in a dilapidated garage for more than five years. By successfully engaging the community, statewide veteran organizations, and private businesses, the reconstruction project was completed and the veteran now resides in a fully restored home with his financial situation stabilized and completely managed.

Arnett has researched and published books pertaining to Kentucky military history and the state’s literary heritage. He conducts approximately 50 major speeches each year on military/patriotic topics, and maintains an excellent reputation as a writer, military historian, and public speaker.

GUNNERY SERGEANT CHARLES BRANDON BAILEY served in the United States Marine Corps in Iraq and Afghanistan. He makes his home in Florence, Kentucky.

During his 40 years, Brandon Bailey has died twice. He has completed 23 surgeries to repair a fractured spine, fractured ribs, a perforated bowel, a ureter separated from his bladder, a fractured hip, a crushed hip and pelvis, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and Traumatic Brain Injury. Brandon had an open wound from top to bottom. He was expected to die and then told he would never walk again nor be able to have children. Brandon was classified in the 1.5 percent of severely wounded who did not die. Today he is very much alive, walking unassisted, and is the very proud father of a 4-year-old daughter, Delilah, who is the apple of his eye.

Bailey is the poster child for perseverance and overcoming obstacles. He has demonstrated by his personal battle to regain as much of life as possible and he has determination that just doesn’t quit. 

These traumas started a new journey for Bailey and his family. Bailey has used his experiences to motivate and inspire others. He is becoming an accomplished speaker and frequently speaks to veterans groups, school children, and was recently a keynote speaker to the Kentucky Association of School Administrators Summer Institute this past summer in Louisville. He also assists with the work of Blue Star Mothers.

Bailey recently began working as a spokesperson for Field of Dreams, an organization that provides fishing and hunting experiences for wounded veterans and disabled children. His work appears on the Sportsman Channel and the Pursuit Channel on cable TV. He recently founded the Purple Hearts and Heroes Foundation that placed its first monument at the Boone County Veteran’s Memorial in Florence, Kentucky, on Memorial Day of this year.

Bailey has worked tirelessly to help create the Kentucky Veterans Hall of Fame. Bailey is a very meticulous and great leader. His faith and drive keep him going. He continues to help veterans and other organizations. Helping others is also assisting with his own recovery, which progresses every day.

SPECIALIST E-5 THOMAS WAYNE BAKER served in the United States Army during the Vietnam War. He makes his home in Lexington, Kentucky.

Thomas Baker earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Kentucky in Lexington. His entire life he has continued to “sharpen the saw” with leadership development courses in a variety of fields of study and places in this country.

He advanced from a part-time switchboard operator with the Lexington HeraldLeader to general advertising manager and advertising director.

Baker is a very successful entrepreneur who has excelled in his profession of advertising, sales, and promotions. His business acumen resulted in the successful creation of several thriving business enterprises, including Baker Communications, WALBAK International Marketing Ltd., and QBi3 Software Application & Marketing. He is recognized nationally and at state levels by many awards for outstanding service to this field. He was the first inducted into the Kentucky Advertising Hall of Fame.

He led an effort to raise $1 million to renovate the University of Kentucky’s Grehan Journalism Building. His work with the American Advertising Federation has resulted in the defeat of several tax initiatives detrimental to the advertising industry. He has chaired and served on the board of the Bluegrass Military Affairs Coalition for more than a decade. His work has benefited military members, veterans, and their families with information and benefits.

Baker is serving a second term on the Executive Committee of the Kentucky Commission on Military Affairs. His efforts have accomplished much to strengthen the competitive position of Kentucky’s military related industries through a sustained partnership with the Department of Defense. He is chairman emeritus of the Kentucky Committee for Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve, Office of the Department of Defense, which has benefited countless veterans in their post-military employment. For 10 years he served on the selection board for National Service Academy nominees. His work has helped many students, families, and school administrators compete for appointments to the U.S. Naval Academy. He was the instrumental advocate for the creation and passage of a Kentucky bill resulting in significant savings of tuition costs for thousands of post 9-11 veterans using their GI Bill with benefits to Kentucky universities, which improved the college-educated employment pool for Kentucky.

This E5 Army veteran now is serving his 12th elected term of office as a national director of the Navy League of the United States. At a Kentucky event for the 60th anniversary of the Battle of Midway that attracted 10,000 people to their activities and displays in Lexington, eight survivors of the Battle of Midway were present for a large dinner where an old retired chief told his personal story of being pulled from the sea by Officer Brown and survived. Unknown by anyone, Officer Brown was one of the eight in attendance. The program stopped when these two men met. These men embraced and sobbed. The other seven joined in the emotional experience as did the entire audience. Just another night in the life of Thomas Baker, who put this event together to make life better for veterans.

His volunteer public service has resulted in receiving national recognition with the President’s Volunteer Service Award—Gold Silver & Bronze medals; the Patrick Henry Award from the National Guard Association of the United States; the Scroll of Honor for Outstanding Service from the Navy League of the United States; and local awards from the Boy Scouts, Jaycees, and Rotary Club of Lexington.

His contributions to the community, state, and nation have improved the lives of its citizens in measurable ways. He continues to offer his time, effort, and outstanding talents to various projects.

BRIGADIER GENERAL (RETIRED) LESLIE E. BEAVERS lives in Frankfort, Kentucky. General Beavers was born and raised in a small coal camp in Berwind, West Virginia. From these humble beginnings a leader of leaders is with us tonight. Les Beavers graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1960 and later earned a master’s degree from Tulane University in nuclear physics in 1967.

After retiring from a stellar career as an officer in the United States Army, General Beavers was appointed by thenGovernor Paul Patton to serve as the first commissioner of the newly created Kentucky Department of Veterans Affairs on October 1, 1998. Over the next decade General Beavers developed the Department of Veterans Affairs into a full-service entity helping more than 367,000 Kentucky veterans and more than 600,000 family members of veterans by providing personal, hands-on assistance and programs to meet their needs. He has developed more than $1billion in veteran benefits.

Today, the Department of Veterans Affairs administers three veteran’s nursing homes that serve approximately 500 residents. During his tenure the department grew to 18 field representatives to assist and advocate for veterans across the state.

Today the department oversees four state veteran’s cemeteries with one more in development. The department also has programs in place to assist homeless veterans in the Commonwealth. The department has a women’s veterans program to value the service of women in the armed services and ensure that female veterans’ needs are met. Fifteen primary care clinics have been established to increase healthcare for veterans.

His peers elected him as the president of the National Association of State Directors of Veterans Affairs for 2004-2005. He was the recipient of the 2006 Public Policy Award from the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans.

WILLIAM F. CAPPEL was from Covington, Kentucky. He died on December 16, 2003, at the age of 91.

Cappel was one of 13 students in the first graduating class of Covington Latin School in 1927, in Covington, Kentucky. He worked for 30 years as traffic manager for the Union Pacific Railroad in Cincinnati, Ohio. He was traffic manager for the Cincinnati terminal warehouse for 15 years.

Cappel was always supportive of the Catholic nuns at St John’s Catholic Church and dropped off money to them each month. He said, “The nuns do a great job feeding and clothing poor children in school, and they can put the money to better use than I can.” He donated money anonymously to many organizations and individuals he read about in local newspapers suffering from injury or illness. He always said, “I would rather be known as a good Christian than a good ball player.”

From 1948 to 1958 Cappel served as volunteer general manager of Covington’s city ball parks. He would get home from work, change clothes, walk to the park, and work from 5 p.m. until 11 p.m. doing all that was necessary for this primary community entertainment to happen. If an umpire did not show up, Bill would close the concessions, put on his umpire shirt, and the game went on.

In 1960, Cappel founded the Covington Major Girls League in softball. Three of his teams won national championships. For 16 years he served as deputy commissioner for the American Softball Association in Northern Kentucky. He organized and promoted slow pitch and fast pitch men’s and women’s leagues and tournaments. In 1974, he co-founded the Northern Kentucky Umpires Association. In 1983, he organized a woman’s softball league in Covington to allow women the opportunity to become more involved in the sporting world. He co-founded the Northern Kentucky Sports Hall of Fame and served as secretary/treasurer for 11 years.

In the early 1980s, Cappel planned and promoted the annual Sno-Ball Tournament each February in Cincinnati. Proceeds of more than $11,000 were donated to the March of Dimes.

Cappel has received many awards for his volunteer work. In 1958, he was commissioned a Kentucky Colonel. In1963, Bill Cappel Week was declared by the mayor of Covington to recognize Cappel’s contributions to recreation programs. In 1975, two softball diamonds were renamed in Cappel’s honor. He was given a key to the City of Covington and named a Kentucky Admiral by Governor Julian Carroll. In 1977 Cappel was featured in an article in Pro Softball Magazine and described as Mr. Everything in Softball. In 1883 Cappel was inducted into the Kentucky Softball Hall of Fame. He was inducted into the Hudepohl Softball Hall of Fame and served as a board member. In 2002, he was given the Sportsman of the Century award for a lifetime of dedication to sports in northern Kentucky.

On his 90th birthday a tribute to Cappel was entered into the Congressional Record by United States Senator Jim Bunning, recognizing years of dedicated and selfless service to his nation and the Commonwealth of Kentucky. The Bill Cappel Youth Sports Complex was dedicated to Cappel for his lifetime of efforts. In 2003, the Behringer-Crawford Museum presented an exhibit honoring Bill. To preserve the memory and continue to honor him, the Northern Kentucky Sports Hall of Fame presents the Bill Cappel Volunteerism Award each December (the month of Bill’s death) to a northern Kentucky resident who exhibits a similar life of volunteerism. Cappel died at the age of 91 and still lived in the house where he was raised.

CW4 RAYMOND L. CHRISTOPHER lives in Fern Creek, Kentucky. Christopher has the distinction of serving in both the United States Army and the United States Air Force.

He has spoken to many schools and military organizations representing the military to which he devoted his life. He began writing a book of his life experiences. 

Christopher was forced to retire from the Army in 2004. The Gulf War illness was destroying his liver. He became reclusive for one year. Walking and talking both became difficult for him as the disease continued to disable his liver. His zeal for writing his book disappeared.

He presented himself to the medical staff at Jewish Hospital in Louisville, Kentucky, and asked to become a candidate for a liver transplant. He was told his chances were not good. He was put through an exhaustive regimen of medical and mental procedures and tests and was finally accepted to the liver transplant list.

His doctors developed medicine to keep him alive as he waited in hope of a transplant. Just two months ago Christopher was asked if he would become a volunteer to experiment with a newly developed medicine that was hoped to cure his liver disease. He agreed. He has been through extensive tests, and his surgeons reported astounding news to him—his liver disease is totally gone and his liver is rebuilding itself. Today, he is walking and talking and has returned to complete the writing of his book. His willingness to allow his body to be used to test this medicine is expected to bring hope and healing to many, many people who suffer with these liver diseases.

SERGEANT MAJOR THOMAS B. CRUMP served in the United States Marine Corps. He resides in Louisville, Kentucky. He is the oldest inductee at age 93.

Crump grew up as a child in the Great Depression. His father died at an early age, and Tom was left to be the breadwinner of a large family of siblings headed by his loving mother. At one point, his mother could not afford to keep all the children, and Tom was shuffled off to live with other relatives for most of his teen years. He worked on a farm until he enlisted in the Marines just prior to WWII.

Following a 30-year military career, Thomas Crump has been given the title Goodwill Ambassador. He is a relentless proponent of the values and objectives of the Marine Corps League. At his age he continues to contribute by speaking to young adults in high schools, Eagle Court of Honor, civic organizations, recruiting poolee functions, Junior ROTC programs, and tank school graduations. He is a most sought out speaker at every function involving veterans and the United States Marine Corps.

Tom has volunteered often for the Toys For Tots campaigns. He participates frequently in the visitation programs and funerals of veterans. He also assisted at times with honor detail until his health slowed him down.

Crump was recognized as the top recruiter in Kentucky with the Kentuckiana Detachment #729.

Sgt. Major Crump started the first Marine Corps JROTC in the nation in Louisville, Kentucky, at Seneca High School.

In May 2004, he was instrumental in taking 24 bus loads of WWII veterans to Washington, D.C. They were visiting the World War II Memorial just prior to its dedication. His leadership was evident at every turn. He brought cohesion and unity to veterans from all branches of the service. Tom was always the epitome of Marine decorum, spoke eloquently about serving his country, and wore his Marine Corps uniform with impeccable pride.

In 2005, Tom received the DAR Distinguished Citizen of the Year Award.

ARMY SPECIALIST 5, HAROLD B. “H.B” DEATHERAGE served in the United States Army during the Vietnam War. He grew up in Boone County, Kentucky. 

Deatherage graduated from Boone County High School in 1963 and Eastern Kentucky University in 1967 and still serves his high school alma mater. He created the Boone County High School Mr. Rebel mascot costume and served as Mr. Rebel for 10 years, appearing at ball games, community events, and parades. Today, he is still the public address announcer for Boone County High School and Thomas More College sports.

At a time when it seemed veterans had been forgotten, Deatherage became the visionary, designer, and coordinator of the Veterans Memorial of Boone County that honors all Boone countians who served and all those who died in WWI, WWII, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. This $800,000 project was dedicated in August 1998. It was expanded in 2009 to include a monument to honor those who served and died in the War on Terror. In 2011, it was expanded again to include a POW/MIA monument. Deatherage has spent thousands of hours raising funds, planting pavers, mobilizing civic involvement, and meticulously researching the names and protocols for this extraordinary tribute to veterans. He has been personally responsible for coordinating programs each Memorial Day and Veterans Day since its inception in 1998. 

Deatherage was the driving force to bring the Vietnam Moving Wall to Florence, Kentucky, in 2006 and again in 2010. He also brought the Moving Wall to Kenton County in 2007. Pageantry is always involved in his programs. 

Deatherage has been inducted into the Northern Kentucky Athletic Director’s Hall of Fame and the Eastern Kentucky University Hall of Fame; was an official torch bearer for the Salt Lake City Olympics in 2002; was the grand marshal of the city of Florence Labor Day Parade twice; has received Kentucky Senate and House citations for community service; holds the Paul Harris Fellow Award from Rotary International; was named Citizen of the Year by the Florence Rotary Club; was the Boone County Jaycees’ Hometown Hero; has been president of the Florence Rotary Club and the Boone County Businessmen’s Association; and he was also instrumental in bringing minor league baseball to the city of Florence, Kentucky.

In spite of serious health issues from his military service in Vietnam, Deatherage works tirelessly to improve his community and see that veterans are never forgotten. That same spirit has guided his efforts to establish the Kentucky Veterans Hall of Fame and Kentucky Veterans Hall of Fame Foundation.

SERGEANT RANDALL ALLEN FISHER makes his home in Paris, Kentucky. He served in the United States Air Force. Following his work as a medic in the Air Force, Sergeant Fisher continued to dedicate himself to the healthcare field and used his skills to work for the federal government, providing care to our country’s soldiers and veterans at the VA Medical Center in Lexington, Kentucky. Sergeant Fisher earned a bachelor’s degree in nursing from the University of Kentucky in 1982. He completed the physician’s assistant program in 1983. Fischer has pursued educational opportunities to advance his knowledge of the medical field after his military service to enhance his care and treatment of humanity. 

Sergeant Fisher’s accomplishments are many. In addition to establishing a Coumadin clinic by RNs at the Leestown facility, he:
• set up a patient classification system for ambulatory care
• set up the first mobile clinic in Millersburg, Kentucky
• set up health fairs at the VFW national convention
• set up mobile flu shot clinics
• set up foot clinics for diabetics 

As you can see, Randall Fisher’s life has revolved around caring for our military. He continually has sought positions with increased responsibilities and has been very active in new, groundbreaking programs.

Randall has spent untold hours for many years volunteering as the service officer for the state of Kentucky handling veteran claims for medical treatment and benefits. In support of all American veterans, Fisher testified on Capitol Hill before the House Committee on Veterans Affairs in 2012 about the need for quality claims processors at the Veterans Administration.

Fisher is in line to become the national commander of the American Legion where he will, if elected, lead the country’s largest veteran’s organization. 

STAFF SERGEANT LEE R. FRAKES makes his home in Walton, Kentucky. He served in the United States Army and United States Air Force. Following his experience of being shot down and listed as MIA, Frakes returned to his home in Erlanger, Kentucky. He landed a job just three months after leaving service. He became a field representative with Brown & Williamson, one of the nation’s largest tobacco companies. He also worked as alcoholic beverage administrator for the city of Erlanger; served as a lieutenant with the Erlanger Volunteer Fire Department; a captain with the Erlanger Auxiliary Police Department; a charter member of the Erlanger Lions Club; and helped to form the Ralph Fulton VFW Post 6423 in 1946 where he remains an active member today.

Frakes’ wife, Patty, passed away in 1995. Therefore, he determined to become involved in a measureable way to make a difference in the world around him. He served on the Walton City Council for eight years; spearheaded the building of the Walton-Verona Veterans Memorial; spearheaded the building of the new Walton Fire Department facilities; coordinated Memorial Day and Veterans Day programs in his community for eight years; and has raised funding for the bell tower at the Grant County Veterans memorial and funds for other northern Kentucky Veterans Memorials.

At the age of 89, Lee Frakes has repeatedly provided funds to pay electric and water bills for needy veterans and continues to generously provide this type of support as needed today. He frequently speaks to college and high school students about his military experiences. He recently had successful quadruple heart bypass surgery and has returned to an active and fruitful life.

SENIOR MASTER SERGEANT PARVIN GIBBS lives in Madisonville, Kentucky. He served in the United States Air Force for 26 years.

Parvin Gibbs has had a distinguished career. Since his retirement he has dedicated much time to helping others through local charity organizations such as the American Legion, the Lions Club, and the Elks. Additionally, Mr. Gibbs serves on many veteran and community committees. He is highly respected by all state Legionnaires for his work helping veterans and youth. He has worked for the past 26 years organizing and implementing the American Legion’s Boys State Program. He has been dean of counselors for this organization for seven years. The last three years he has served as director for Boys State. He donates his services to the local YMCA, coaching youth soccer leagues and other YMCA programs. He is also active at Madisonville HS volunteering in sports activities.

In 2011, Senior Master Sergeant Gibbs was voted the American Legion Legionnaire of the Year for Kentucky for his support of veterans and youth programs. In 2012, he was honored as Man of the Year by the Madisonville Lions Club for his community work and volunteerism.

Senior Master Sergeant Gibbs is a life member of the Air Force Aid Society. He was also the announcer for the largest Veterans Day parade in Kentucky at Madisonville, Kentucky.

Gibbs has demonstrated his commitment to helping veterans through his active involvement in many veteran organizations and committees. He continues to give his time to veterans by presenting military honors to our fallen veterans and driving disabled veterans to medical appointments. Gibbs is president of the Joint Executive Council for Veterans Organizations (JECVO) for the Commonwealth of Kentucky.

SECOND LIEUTENANT LARRY HAGER JR. lives in Owensboro, Kentucky. He served in the United States Army. In 1935, at the age of 12, Hazlett began his employment as a newspaper carrier for the Messenger-Inquirer. He then became a writer and sold advertising for WOMI radio. He then was on loan to the Associated Press covering the Kentucky General Assembly and the Democratic and Republican conventions. In 1962, he was assistant to the editor of the Messenger-Inquirer. In 1966, he became co-publisher and co-editor of the paper. In 1973, he became director of technology for the paper and introduced many new and innovative processes to publishing the paper. In 1976, the paper won several national awards and was later named one of the best small newspapers in America. In 1989, Larry retired and sold his newspaper and radio interests to his brother.

The Goodfellows Club was created by Larry’s father in 1916 to provide assistance to needy children. As a child attending a Goodfellows Club Christmas party and seeing firsthand the joy of serving, Hager adopted his lifelong motto “Service Above Self.” Hager perpetuated the traditions of this club his entire life, and today it continues to serve more than 1,000 children each year. Hager has been a prime mover in establishing a dental clinic to provide needed dental care to impoverished children. He has invested many years in the Owensboro Rotary Club that was organized by his father in 1918.

Hager incorporated an educational foundation named in honor of his parents. The $1 million endowment was created to improve the lives of underprivileged families and children, with a goal of enabling them to become self-sustaining members of society. Today that foundation has grown to $3.4 million and continues its mission to improve opportunities for children, especially those who are economically disadvantaged. There are now several programs funded by the foundation, including the School Nurse Program, which was created and funded by the foundation and benefits more than 2,000 children; Project Graduation 2010, which has aided the Daviess County Schools to do brain research, establish foreign language instruction in the elementary schools, and introduce music keyboarding to elementary students. Other initiatives of the foundation include the Community Politics Workshop series, the Green River Asset Building Coalition, Arts Teach Kids, the Rotary Youth Fund, the Pritchard Committee, Kentucky Youth Advocates, and Celebrations of Excellence.

Hager has received numerous awards that give testimony to the truly significant, positive, and lasting influence he has had on the lives of others. They include: Citizen of the Year for the Owensboro Civitan Club; Outstanding Kentucky Volunteer Award from the United Way of Kentucky; Stand for Children Award for the Audubon Area Community Services; President’s Award for Cliff Hagan Boys and Girls Club, and Distinguished Philanthropist. Hager was recognized by the Kentucky School Boards Association with its Friend of Education Award.

SERGEANT ALBERT LAWRENCE HAZLETT lives in Lawrenceburg, Kentucky. He served in the United States Army.

Hazlett has been a Christian since the age of 12 and was baptized at Pleasant Ridge Baptist Church. He now attends the West Frankfort Church of God under the leadership of Reverend Wade Hughes. He currently serves as president of the Men’s Fellowship at the church.

With the backing of the church and the Men’s Fellowship, Albert started Handfuls on Purpose Food Pantry to help feed the needy families in Franklin County. This was also made possible by partnering with God’s Pantry in Lexington, Kentucky, which is a member of Feeding America. Albert is in his fifth year as director and treasurer of the pantry. Under his direction the pantry has been able to supply food to approximately 320 families each month by organizing volunteer help for food drives and pantry workers. Following a long day of work at his real job as public works director and administrator with the city of Lawrenceburg, Kentucky, Hazlett works many hours to ensure that the shelves are filled at the pantry. He has received the Bronze Level Award, the Silver Level Award, and the Gold Level Award from the Kentucky League of Cities for his work in Lawrenceburg.

As president of the Men’s Fellowship, Hazlett leads the monthly meetings and organizes projects for the men to do work on Saturdays. Projects include building handicap ramps, painting, winterizing homes for the elderly, and general home repair. All of this work is done without pay. 

He serves as a member of the Environmental Protection Advisory Committee with the Bluegrass Area Development District. He also serves as a member on the Community of Promise Committee, which plans community projects with high school students.

The United States Army made a good choice when they accepted Albert Hazlett. This 17-year-old boy parked his car and left home to serve his country. He returned home as a great man and became a great leader in his community.

U.S. ARMY STAFF SERGEANT AND UNITED STATES SENATOR WALTER D. HUDDLESTON lives in Elizabethtown, Kentucky. He served in the United States Army.

In 1948, while a student at University of Kentucky and working on the college radio station, Huddleston did the play-by-play of the first UK basketball game broadcast on radio. Following his graduation he worked as sports and program director for WKCT radio station in Bowling Green, Kentucky. He then became general manager of WIEL radio station in Elizabethtown.

Sen. Huddleston became involved with a number of business enterprises and was in a partnership that first brought cable television to Elizabethtown in the early ’60s.

For 20 years he served as director of the First Federal Savings Bank in Elizabethtown. From 1966-72 he served in the Kentucky Senate both as Democratic caucus chairman and majority leader. From 1973-1985 he served in the U.S. Senate and was a charter member of the United States Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. From 1985 to 2005 he was the owner and operator of Huddleston Consulting associated with Hecht Spencer & Associates in Washington, D.C.

Over the years Sen. Huddleston has earned many accolades including: Outstanding Young Man of Kentucky from the Kentucky Jaycees, Outstanding Citizen of Kentucky, the Kentucky Mike Award from the Kentucky Broadcasters Association, and Outstanding Alumni Award by the UK Radio Arts Dept. He served on the board of directors of the UK Alumni Association; he received the Outstanding Contributions to the Commonwealth of Kentucky Certificate from Phi Beta Kappa, University of Kentucky in 1977. University of Kentucky Libraries is home to the Walter D. Huddleston Collection where it is used by researchers studying politics and public policy. More recently Sen. Huddleston was inducted into the Kentucky Civil Rights Hall of Fame and in 2009, the Kentucky Society of Washington presented him with its Henry Clay Distinguished Kentuckian Award.

Senator Huddleston’s role in economic development in Elizabethtown and Hardin County, his leadership during the struggles for civil rights for African-Americans, his instrumental role in bringing a community college to Elizabethtown and ultimately helping create the Kentucky Community College System, and his work on behalf of Kentuckians and all Americans in the United States Senate is a legacy for which we all are grateful.

CAPTAIN JOSEPH JAMES KALIL JR. lives in Florence, Kentucky. He served in the United States Army. 

A few years after leaving active duty, a group of terrorists used the same airplane Kalil flew at the time (B-757 & B-767) to bring down the World Trade Center and attack the Pentagon. The events of September 11 forever changed all of our lives and it launched Kalil into full-scale action to once again protect the United States and its citizens. Kalil was part of the original group that started the Airline Pilots Security Alliance, which was a major influence in convincing Congress to adopt a program to deputize and arm pilots to help prevent future airline attacks in this country. Kalil’s passion for our country and his continued commitment to protect it from those who would seek to harm it has been a driving force in his life.

Kalil is a 2nd Amendment advocate. He has been active at the county, state, and federal levels to support the individual right to keep and bear arms. Joe has successfully advocated for the removal of all “No Guns” signs from Boone County buildings.

Kalil has worked as a director with the Kentucky Concealed Carry Coalition. He has supported legislative action and written and published several articles in nationally syndicated magazines.

Kalil has provided in-service training to teachers and administrators on how to react to an active shooter, lockdown procedures, and bomb threats. This training has already proven to be useful in a real situation. Joe volunteers his time and expertise in these areas. Joe has also provided training to the Boone County sheriff’s deputies on the AK-47 rifle. This was also a volunteer effort. Joe has also developed procedures for aircraft assault training, church security, and safety team training as well as serving as 4-H rifle and archery shooting instructor, coach, and range safety officer.

Following the aftermath of the Sandy Hook shooting, Kalil, in partnership with the Boone County Sheriff’s Office, developed the POST (Protecting Our Students and Teachers) program. This program is designed to prepare schools to respond to the active shooter threat and protect the most precious thing we have—our children.

Currently Kalil is employed as a B-737 pilot for Delta Airlines operating out of the Northern Kentucky Greater Cincinnati International Airport. He also serves as a federal flight deck officer and firearms instructor. He is the owner of Defensive Handgun Training and serves as an elected constable in Boone County.

E-5 SPECIALIST DONALD LEE KIRKPATRICK II lived in Burlington, Kentucky. He served in the United States Army during the Vietnam War. His widow is Judy Kirkpatrick.

When Kirkpatrick separated from the military with an honorable discharge, he returned home and married Judy Finke on April 3, 1971. Over the next seven years they had two children, Traci and Brad, and their family was complete. He returned to work at Chevron driving an oil truck. He later opened his own Gulf Oil station and later worked for Harper Oil Distributing Company. 

In 1980, Kirkpatrick became chief of the Burlington Volunteer Fire Department and held that position for five years. Volunteer firefighting was a big part of Kirkpatrick’s life. Being a volunteer firefighter keeps you constantly on call to serve your community. It is a calling that touches the entire firefighter’s family. Kirkpatrick enjoyed the challenge of the job and the warm feeling he got when helping others in his community. Committed to the safety of all the personnel, Kirkpatrick took this task upon himself to train the new members and better the level of training for all firemen in his department. Using the training he learned in the Army, “safety through training” became his number one goal as chief.

Kirkpatrick served his community in other ways. He was a knothole baseball coach and was always there for the activities of his children. During the winter months he would work all day then come home and shovel snow for many elderly people in Burlington. Kirkpatrick always gave his time to support the Boone County Fair from volunteering to setting up rides for the people to enjoy or help in the booth for the Ladies Auxiliary. 

On October 19, 1989, an early snow and high winds hit northern Kentucky causing numerous calls for tree limbs and power lines down throughout the area. That morning Kirkpatrick was tragically killed while attempting to help a family in need. He came into contact with a downed cable TV line that was energized with high voltage from a downed power line. Donnie’s death, at the age of 42, was a grave loss to the community of Burlington and all that had the privilege of knowing him.

He was given the Certificate of Valor from the Commonwealth of Kentucky for making the supreme sacrifice while performing the duties of a firefighter. It reads, “This firefighter felt an obligation to protect the lives and property of the citizens of the Commonwealth of Kentucky. This obligation resulted in the tragic loss of his life.”

The Bible says it best in John 15:13: “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”

SERGEANT JERRY WINFIELD MCCANDLESS lives in Campbellsburg, Kentucky. He served in the United States Marine Corps.

Jerry McCandless holds a BS degree from Grove City College in Grove City, Pennsylvania. He also holds an honorary doctorate from Lindsey Wilson College in Columbia, Kentucky. 

Dr. McCandless has worked in the chemical industry since 1960. His work with the EPA positioned him for his future career. In 1986, he founded and served as president of Evergreen Environmental Inc. This company was formed to fill a niche created by sweeping legislation of new environmental regulations. In 2004, he created and serves as CFO of American Enviro-Services.

McCandless has been a finalist for the Entrepreneur of the Year Award presented by Inc. Magazine for 1990, ’91, ’92, and ’93. He chaired the Environmental Committee for the Louisville/Jefferson County RedevelopmentAuthority when a naval weapons facility was being closed and city/county government was converting these facilities to other uses.

McCandless is a member of Southeast Christian Church in Louisville where he serves as an usher and communion steward.

Aside from his businesses, his heart lies in the work of Lindsey Wilson College where he has served on the board of trustees for 28 years. He says, “I have a passion for Lindsey Wilson because their commitment is to needy students and my passion is the children of the world who have no true advocates.” To that end, he and his wife, Kendrick, started a foundation in the mid 1990s. The Evergreen Charitable Foundation provides for orphans and the homeless in Romania. They have built and currently manage two orphanages in eastern Romania. They are currently serving 70 children funded entirely through the foundation. Jerry’s company, Evergreen Environmental, provides 70 percent of the funding for these orphanages.

McCandless and his wife consider all these orphans as 60 extra grandchildren. He quotes a scripture that says, “Happy is the man whose quiver is full.” He says they are ecstatic. McCandless says that anything good in his life happens because of Christ in his life.

COMMAND SERGEANT MAJOR CLAUDE EDWARD MEADE lives in Morehead, Kentucky. He served in the United States Army. He was nominated by Ronnie Brooks.

After being honorably discharged from active duty with the United States Army in 1967, Command Sergeant Major Meade founded the Morehead State University Student Veteran’s Club. He was a student commander and founding member of the MSU ROTC Program; he has been a member of the executive committee of American Legion Post 126 for 40 years, serving twice as commander. He founded the Military Burial Honor Guard Detail for Post 126. In 2012 they conducted 58 funerals. He is a founding member of the Rowan County Veteran’s Association since 1995, serving on the Veteran’s Park Committee, the Annual Veterans Day Student Essay Contest, and the Veteran’s Memorial Wall Committee. Meade has been a Kentucky Boys State Volunteer for 20 years, serving on the executive committee for five years.

In addition to his committees and boards CSM Meade assists the VA by driving veterans to appointments and is actively involved in a support system for local veterans and their families. He spends many hours visiting and assisting older veterans with needs they may have.

CSM Meade also gives his time to many local and regional civic groups. He frequently makes presentations to schools on flag etiquette and military history. He has developed an informal network of contacts to assist and sustain a culture of patriotism throughout the region.

Meade is a Shriner and donates time to the Shriners Hospitals for Children in Lexington and raises money to help handicapped children. He became a member of the Legion of Honor with the Shriners in 1987 and has served as a member of the Arlington National Cemetery Wreath Laying Detail for 13 years. Community and veteran groups often seek him out for his leadership abilities.

When asked what he feels is his greatest accomplishment CSM Meade sites his education, which he obtained through the GI Bill. He believes the educational opportunity paved the way for all that followed.

THE LATE CAPTAIN/DOCTOR ALVIN C. POWELEIT lived in Fort Mitchell, Kentucky. He served in the United States Army during WWII.

Following his honorable discharge Poweleit was no longer able to function as a general surgeon as he had done before the war due to the injuries he suffered at the hands of the Japanese during his imprisonment as a POW. He then entered Harvard Medical School, graduating in 1949, and became a specialist in eye-ear-nose and throat surgery. He began his practice in northern Kentucky in 1949 and continued until 1988. During his 39-year career Dr. Poweleit won acclaim as the nation’s foremost innovator and pioneer in treating cancers related to his specialties.

Over the years, Dr. Poweleit, sporting a trademark bow tie and eyes twinkling, treated thousands of people, often at no cost to patients. He kept the vow he made for surviving his imprisonment: treatment was always free to veterans.

He also authored two books about his war experiences, an autobiography, and several publications concerning the medical history of northern Kentucky.

Following his retirement, Dr. Poweleit remained active in local and national causes, especially those concerning the rights of ex-POWs. He was awarded the Kentucky Distinguished Service Medal with a device for Valor, and the Kentucky Legislature named the highway bridge on Interstate I-275 the Alvin C. Poweleit, MD, Memorial Bridge.

After surviving the ordeals of the prison camp, he died in 1997 from injuries received in a car crash just one block from his home.

STAFF SERGEANT E-5 WILLIAM TAYLOR RACHFORD JR. lives in Alexandria, Kentucky. He served in the United States Air Force.

When Bill Rachford completed his eight years of military service with the United States Air Force he then completed his post-secondary education with a BA in business administration from the University of Maryland in College Park, MD.

Beginning in 1975, Rachford spent 10 years earning credentials as a chartered financial consultant and chartered life underwriter from The American College in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania. He has continued throughout his career to further his knowledge with a variety of credentials earned in a number of states. Rachford worked more than 20 years with the District of Columbia Life Underwriters Association in Washington, D.C. In 1996, he received the Distinguished Service Award from the District of Columbia Life Underwriters Association. Rachford has qualified for the Million Dollar Round Table on multiple occasions.

Rachford has served as chairman of the board and held many offices for the Holly Hill Children’s Home in California, Kentucky. He is a life member of the VFW Post #3205. He has been treasurer and executive committee member of CARE Mission.

Since 1999, Rachford has been involved in leadership roles with the city of Alexandria, Kentucky. He currently is the mayor of Alexandria.

He became an Eagle Scout in 1960. He currently is very active with the Dan Beard Council, Boy Scouts of America in Cincinnati, Ohio. For the past 11 years he has served on many scouting committees and scouting leadership responsibilities.

Rachford is also an active member of Main Street Baptist Church where he serves on the Stewardship Committee, the Personnel Committee, and as a CARE Mission board member.

A quote from Barbara Weber: “Bill is a man with a big heart. He is an ambassador of good will and always willing to be of help to others. As a volunteer in our community, Bill has donated his time, effort, and expertise in order to enhance the quality of life for all who live and work here.”

SERGEANT LEROY FRANCIS SPAULDING served in the United States Army and the United States Air Force. He lives in Frankfort, Kentucky.

Upon his departure from the military, Spaulding married and fathered three children. He worked more than 40 years with Schenley Distillers, retiring as security manager and fire chief in 1987. He is currently employed by the Central Kentucky Funeral Limo Association in Versailles. This group serves more than 30 funeral homes within the central Kentucky area.

Spaulding is a life/charter member (last surviving) of VFW Post 4075; a life member of American Legion Post 7; and a life member of the Kentucky River Chapter 622 Military Order of the Purple Heart. 

Spaulding has been active in lobbying legislation for the Military Order of the Purple Heart and many veteran issues. He has held local, department, and national offices. He was instrumental in securing the votes naming I-64 from Louisville to Ashland as the “Purple Heart Trail” in 2002.

Spaulding was very involved in securing the Purple Heart monument placement in Frankfort in 2004. He did most of the preparation of the site and continues to take care of the flag and general upkeep.

In 2005, while in Washington, D.C., Spaulding met with then Senator Hillary Clinton to personally thank her for her support in obtaining the Purple Heart Stamp.

In 2010, Spaulding lobbied the General Assembly to allow the surviving spouse of a Purple Heart recipient to retain the license plate upon the death of the recipient. Governor Beshear signed the bill into law.

At the age of 91, Spaulding continues to join the veteran organizations in placing flags for Veterans Day in the historic Frankfort Cemetery.

SERGEANT ROBERT LESLIE WILLIAMS served in the United States Army during WWII. He lives in Independence, Kentucky. He is currently 91 years old.

Bob Williams did not stop serving his country or community after leaving the Army. He continued to help others through his business and as a volunteer for many causes. Bob has been active in veterans’ causes throughout his lifetime.

Williams was a partner in the ownership of a gas station in Covington, worked as an electro-plater in Detroit, and worked in an aircraft engine factory before becoming a gemologist. He worked for four special-order jewelry manufacturers in Cincinnati then 30 years in his own business as a diamond setter. He has a total of 56 years working at the bench.

Williams maintains a WWII D-Day museum in his basement. He has authored two books, Return to Normandy and Cowboy’s Caravan.

Williams has been very active in the Republican Party and has provided assistance to many candidates seeking election to state and federal posts.

Williams has received numerous awards. Included in his awards are recognitions from Francois Mitterand, the president of France, and the mayor of Lower Normandy. He proudly represents the United States Army in programs, parades, and ceremonies in his community, state, and beyond. He still wears his WWII uniform.

As a WWII veteran, Williams has faithfully served his country and has advocated on behalf of veterans for many years. Williams is a life member of the VFW. Bob is also a life member of the 101st Airborne Division Association, attending reunions all over the country. It was at one of those reunions that Williams began to organize the now famous Return to Normandy Association. Bob states the proudest day of his life was June 6, 1994, when at the age of 71, he, along with13 of the men who jumped with him in 1944, repeated their parachute jump into Normandy, France. Bob was the only veteran from Kentucky to make the repeat jump. The 50th anniversary jump was to remind the younger people of the heroes who were willing to give their lives to preserve their way of life and to honor those that did not survive. Williams’ picture walking off the jump field appeared on the cover of Time magazine, The New Times, and many Paris newspapers.


Read the Kentucky Living November 2014 feature that goes along with this Web exclusive, We Salute You.

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