“From the founding of this country, veterans have been the lifeblood of our nation…We want all of our deserving heroes to be honored and recognized.” – Colonel Conrad Reynolds, founder and director of the Arkansas Military Veterans’ Hall of Fame
Colonel Reynolds made these remarks describing the nomination process for the 2014 Arkansas Military Veterans’ Hall of Fame. For the past four years, this non-profit organization has annually honored and recognized up to 15 Arkansas military veterans, inducting them into its Hall of Fame for valorous military service as well as combined military and civilian service.
Many of our state’s most famous military leaders now sit in this hall, including Congressional Medal of Honor recipient and World War II Commanding General Douglas MacArthur, whose quote “I shall return,” still resonates more than 70 years later; Marine Corps Gunnery Sergeant Carlos Hathcock, whose reputation as a sniper in Vietnam earned him numerous awards and prompted the military to name a rifle after his trademark white feather; and Brigadier General James Robinson Risner, who was the first living recipient of the Air Force Cross; he received it twice.
Even more important to Arkansas’ First District, this year’s induction class includes at least six individuals who call or have called it home. These names include Sergeant Major Robert Gene Brashears of Harrisburg, Command Sergeant Major Cleo Lee of Newport, Sergeant Major Richard Junior Nail of Lafferty, Lt. Colonel Robert Martin Schoenborn, Jr. of Jonesboro, Lt. Colonel David Ray Wallace of Leachville, and Walnut Ridge-native Colonel Tom W. Thomas of Searcy.
Together, these six men served our country in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam. They earned more than 40 service awards combined, including 19 Air Medals, 5 Army Commendation Medals, 9 Bronze Star Medals, 1 Distinguished Flying Cross, 1 Defense Meritorious Service Medal, 2 Legion of Merit awards, 4 Meritorious Service Medals, and 2 Purple Heart awards. They risked mind and body to protect the freedoms we enjoy daily, and their inductions into this Hall of Fame provide the First District an opportunity to offer a resounding, “Thank you” for serving.
In doing so, let’s make sure we don’t forget our veterans who may never receive a Hall of Fame induction.
Arkansas houses more than 240,000 veterans, or about 8.1 percent of our state’s total population. Some serve in various local, state, and national capacities, while others have devoted themselves to the private sector, creating and filling the jobs that keep our economy afloat. Still, others daily bear the visible and invisible injuries of war that prevent them from migrating into the civilian workplace; marks that reflect the jobs they faithfully accomplished in service to their country.
So, on November 11, as we celebrate the 60th anniversary of the holiday known as Veterans Day, let’s each take some time to thank and honor the men and women whom we call veterans. To paraphrase a quote from the football movie Remember the Titans, they’re “Hall of Fame in my book.”