Three Local Veterans To Be Honored Monday

By Kevin Gray

Miami County combat veterans will be honored on Memorial Day with the unveiling of a monument to 20 men who earned the highest medals awarded by America and her allies. Osawatomie’s awardees include Ray Conklin, Ernest L. Jones and Cecil L. Prentice. Other veterans being honored represent Paola, Louisburg, Spring Hill and Stanton Township.

The program, said Pete Bell, commander of the Paola Veterans of Foreign Wars, will include keynote speaker Master Chief Petty Officer of the U.S. Navy Ret. Terry Scott, formerly of Louisburg. Retired Brig. Gen. Dan Karr will conduct the ceremony being held at the Miami County Veterans Memorial at 1 p.m. Monday in Paola.

Ten families of the veterans being honored also plan to attend the event. “Family members will be traveling from around the United States to attend this historical event,” Bell said.

This dedication is the culmination of a one-year research and fundraising effort, Bell said, by the Miami County Veterans Memorial Committee. “We wanted to recognize the extraordinary deeds of these individuals, who lived among us,” Bell said.

The soldiers on the monument, Bell said, participated in combat from World War I through Vietnam. A special program has been printed to include a history of those to be honored. “There will be a fly-over by the Commemorative Air Force from Olathe and closing the program we’ll hold a four-cannon salute of thanks to Paola’s Bravo Battery 1st Battalion 161st Field Artillery,” Bell said.

Prentice graduated from Osawatomie High School in 1937 and attended Kansas State University. In 1943 he enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps and trained as a navigator on the B-24 Bomber. Beginning in May of 1944, he was stationed at Wendling Air Field in England with the 8th Air Force 392nd Bomber Wing. He flew 30 combat missions and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross. When he returned from England, he became a navigator instructor in San Marcos, Texas, until his discharge in 1945. He passed away in June, 2010.

Jones, a 1933 graduate of Osawatomie High School, enlisted in the U.S. Army where he became a member of the 981st Field Artillery Division. He served in the European Theater, landing on Utah Beach D-Day+24 and participated in all five Battles of the Bulge, for which he received a Silver Star. He passed away in November 2010.

Conklin was also a member of the Osawatomie High School class of 1933. He enlisted in the U.S. Naval Reserves Air Corps and received his wings in August 1941. Conklin was assigned to the South Pacific and saw action at Guadalcanal, Eastern Solomons, Hollandia, Aitape and New Guinea. He was awarded the Navy Cross for distinguished service, two Air Medals and the Silver Star. Conklin was killed in January 1952 while training in Nevada before going to Korea. Flying in poor visibility, his plane crashed into the side of a 6,000-foot mountain.1

In order to qualify, a service member must have been born in Miami County or claimed the county as their home of record sometime during their life. Additionally, the soldier must have received the Medal of Honor, Distinguished Service Cross, Navy Cross, Air Force Cross, or Distinguished Flying Cross. Foreign medals may only be equivalent to these medals and only for direct combat involvement.

Patriot Guard, American Legion and Blue Knight motorcycle groups, Bell said, will be providing support and static display. Providing music for the dedication will be Dawn Lovelace and her husband Chris representing Kansas City’s Saint Andrews Pipes and Drums. Baker University music student Margo Rodewald will sing the national anthem.

In the event of inclement weather, the bulk of the program will be at the Paola Middle School across the street from the memorial. The unveiling and the cannon salute, with taps, will still be conducted on site, Bell said. “This dedication would not have been possible without the generosity of all those who stepped forward to help,” Bell said.

While some seating will be provided, Bell suggested those attending bring lawn chairs. There will be a reception after the dedication at the Paola VFW 200 located at 200 West Delaware for all those in attendance. Further information may be obtained by contacting Pete Bell at (294) 294-1111.

The Veterans Memorial is located at the intersection of Baptiste Drive and Hospital Drive in Paola.

Those being honored are: Roberto Sousa, Distinguished Service Cross Korea; John P Edwards, Navy Cross WW II; Charles T. McCoy, Distinguished Service Cross and Navy Cross WWI; Joseph L. Butel, Navy Cross WW II; Arnold Debrick, French Legion of Honor WW II; Ray F. Conklin, Navy Cross WW II; Harvey C. Ringer, Distinguished Service Cross WW I; Harry C. Ricket, Distinguished Service Cross WW I; James R. Patterson, Distinguished Flying Cross WW II; Robert M. Patterson, Distinguished Flying Cross WW II and Distinguished Flying Cross Korea; Jackson W. Goss, Silver Star WW II; Paul Popplewell, Silver Star Korea; John H. Knoche, Distinguished Flying Cross WW II; Ernest L. Jones, Silver Star WW II; Thomas O. Chenoweth, Distinguished Flying Cross WWII; Cecil L. Prentice, Distinguished Flying Cross WW II; Leon J. Miller, Silver Star WW II; Dale L. Smith, Distinguished Flying Cross and Silver Star WW II Korea; Timothy T. Nay, Silver Star Vietnam; Woodrow J. Boyett, Silver Star WW  II.


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Posted by admin on May 25 2011. Filed under News and Updates. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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