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Local veterans included in the Ohio Veterans Hall of Fame 2023 inductees

Ohio Veterans Hall of Fame

The Ohio Veterans Hall of Fame was established in 1992, and each year as many as 22 inductees have been enshrined. The Hall of Fame honors military veterans who, after their service, continue to serve and make a difference in their communities. Deborah Ashenhurst is the Director of the Ohio Department of Veterans Services and a retired Major General of the U.S. Army. She is also a voting member of the committee that selects the Hall of Fame inductees. She spoke with WYSO’s Jerry Kenney about that process.

Deborah Ashenhurst: Anybody can nominate someone, and we frequent get upwards of 100 nominations and we have to win that down and wait. So, we have a committee that does that. So, the committee is made up of all the significant, all the thoroughly recognized veterans service organizations, you know, the VFW, the American Legion, the V.A., all those organizations have somebody on there and they help us out, including members of previous classes of the Hall of Fame. And everybody gets to vote on all the applicants. It's a grueling process, but it helps us narrow it down to 20 or less that we get to put in every year, and then those names are presented to the governor. The governor reviews every one of them, and he approves or disapproves, and in my lifetime here, he has always approved those that we have selected for that year's class.

Jerry Kenney: You mentioned it being a grueling process, and I can imagine it can be quite tough, too, to whittle these down.

Ashenhurst: It is. And it's it really is. It recognizes their service. It isn't about their valorous actions or all that. It's really about what they are doing now. And veterans are incredible. I mean, they are doing great things in the community every day, whether it's helping to make sure a community gets a baseball diamond for their youth or if it's an astronaut that walked on the moon. You know, you have that whole spectrum of folks and it's all about what are they doing to make a difference after their time in the military?

Kenney: Can you highlight maybe one or two?

Ashenhurst: three mayors that have to be inducted this year, but one people may have heard of. This very known right now in the news is you've heard the PACT Act where veterans are now able to get help from the V.A., from what they were exposed to overseas with toxic chemicals in the air and all that. Well, that was named after Heath Robinson. And Heath Robinson actually served with me and his family. Even post death, continue to push this in the pack that was signed into law. Well, they nominated Heath and he has been inducted in this year's Hall of Fame. That's very heartwarming. That should be very personal to many, the current era of veterans.

But the one but we're also going clear back to the Tuskegee Airmen, and we have a Tuskegee Airmen that had not been inducted prior to this, Charles McGee. So, he's been inducted this year. That's pretty cool. We have a three-star general, General Liles, who served over Wright-Patterson [AFB]. Patton is still doing great things for the workforce of Ohio and all sorts of things for our veterans. So, he's being inducted this year. Lots of great names.

Kenney: You mentioned that these awards are about how veterans are continuing their service after they leave the military. That can be a challenge for many to find their direction and their way and how they're going to move on from their military service. Can you talk a little bit about that?

Ashenhurst: Sure. Sometimes veterans do come back and think, what do I do now? This has been my whole life to this time, whether it was two years, four years or 30 some year career like I had. And sometimes it's a little difficult. We have so many resources to help them. And here in Ohio, particularly if they want a job, we have a whole section under Jobs Ohio, which highlights veterans. So, and we highlight employers who want to hire veterans that they just want to make a difference in the community. We can connect them to things, everything from helping reading programs to our from our children to helping other veterans who may need a little help or transportation to doctor's appointments and all that. We really can help the full spectrum. We work really hard with employers to make sure that not only did they know about hiring veterans, but how they hire them in the right position so that they really take advantage of all the skills that veteran has learned in their military service.

Kenney: Is there anything that you'd like our listeners to know about veterans in particular, or the Hall of Fame in Ohio.

Ashenhurst: Would have liked for your listeners to know that Ohio really honors, respects and treasures their veterans, and they do that through hiring them here, supporting them for and thanking them, but mainly just for being great patriots as we are in Ohio. Probably the best thing you can do for a veteran is pay your respects to our country with whether it's put your hand over your heart during the. Star-Spangled Banner or standing up when the flags go by on a parade. But when you show that patriotism, it makes us veterans realize that our service was not in vain.

Kenney: Deborah Ashton Hurst is director of the Ohio Department of Veterans Services. Deborah, thanks so much for your time today.

Ashenhurst: Thanks for taking the time.

This year’s public ceremony was held on Thursday, Nov. 9, 2023, at the Fawcett Center at Ohio State University. Inducted into the Ohio Veterans Hall of Fame were:

Darrin M. Adams, Army, Shelby County

Michael L. Close, Army, Delaware County

Carolyn L. Destefani, Air Force, Greene County

Terry Johnson, Air Force, Montgomery County

Donald J. Keehan*, Marine Corps, Lorain County

Paul M. Keller, Air Force/Air Force Reserve, Greene County

John C. Looker, Army, Warren County

Lester L. Lyles, Air Force, Montgomery County

Laurel A. Mayer, Air Force, Greene County

Charles E. McGee*, Army Air Corps/Air Force, Cuyahoga County

Timothy E. McMonagle, Army, Cuyahoga County

Michael P. Monahan, Army, Clermont County

Jack L. Patterson, Army, Coshocton County

Heath M. Robinson*, Ohio Army National Guard, Fairfield County

Stephen L. Rosedale, Army, Hamilton County

David L. Scheffler, Army, Fairfield County

Donald P. Scott, Army Reserve, Mahoning County

Purcell Taylor Jr., Marine Corps, Warren County

Bruce K. Thorn, Army, Franklin County

Robert A. Walkup, Navy/Army Reserve, Williams County

*Awarded posthumously

Jerry began volunteering at WYSO in 1991 and hosting Sunday night's Alpha Rhythms in 1992. He joined the YSO staff in 2007 as Morning Edition Host, then All Things Considered. He's hosted Sunday morning's WYSO Weekend since 2008 and produced several radio dramas and specials . In 2009 Jerry received the Best Feature award from Public Radio News Directors Inc., and was named the 2023 winner of the Ohio Associated Press Media Editors Best Anchor/News Host award. His current, heart-felt projects include the occasional series Bulletin Board Diaries, which focuses on local, old-school advertisers and small business owners. He has also returned as the co-host Alpha Rhythms.