Press Release of Senator Crapo
Crapo To Recognize Idaho Veterans And Volunteers
Spirit of Freedom award to be given to 15 on Veterans Day
Contact: Susan Wheeler
Washington, DC –Idaho Senator Mike Crapo will recognize the important and heroic service of a number of Idaho veterans and volunteers on Veterans Day, November 11th, as part of his second annual Spirit of Freedom awards. The awards will be presented at the Idaho State Veterans Homes in Lewiston, Boise, and Pocatello, as well as in Post Falls and Coeur D’Alene at a later date. Crapo created the award to recognize the many men and women who have fought for our country, as well as those who have given countless volunteer hours in assisting veterans throughout the state.
“In Idaho we have a long and proud military history,” Crapo said. “Our veterans and volunteers have served in every branch of the military, and in organizations from veteran’s homes to the VA Medical Center. In all of their efforts they have demonstrated the spirit, tenacity, and sense of self-sacrifice that are so very much a part of the Idaho character. I am impressed by the recipients’ commitment to our country and its veterans, and am honored to present these awards.”
A number of agencies participated in nominating individuals for this award including the Idaho Division of Veteran’s Affairs, the Idaho State Veterans’ Homes, the VA Regional Office, the VA Medical Center in Boise, as well as commanders of veterans’ service organizations in Idaho.
For information about the ceremonies on November 11th, please contact:
Ron Barnes, Idaho State Veterans Home, Lewiston at 208-799-3422;
Bernard Bufford, Idaho State Veterans Home, Boise at 208-335-5000;
Jeff Piper, Idaho State Veterans Home, Pocatello at 208-236-6340;
or Crapo’s staff at the above-listed numbers.
# # #
Following is a list of the individuals who will be honored on Tuesday, November 11th, and a brief biography on each nominee.
Frank A. Moody, Lewiston, served in the South Pacific in World War II and participated in the occupation and defense of Okinawa and at Guadal Canal. He sustained several wounds and was awarded two Purple Hearts. He is the recipient of several military awards and decorations for his service.
Donald R. Wells, Pocatello, served in World War II at campaigns in Normandy, Northern France, Ardennes, Rhineland, and Central Europe. He is a Purple Heart recipient from wounds received in intense fighting in France. He also received the American Defense Service Medal and the European-African Middle Eastern Service Medal.
Earl D. Hunter, Coeur D’Alene, was a Chaplain who served in battle in World War II at Monte Cassino. He then went on after the war to work as a missionary in remote locations and now serves as the Chaplain for the local VFW. He has represented the Disabled American Veterans with great dignity and effectiveness and been an advocate for teaching about hearing loss and dealing with its effects.
Gerald D. Praegitizer, Boise, is a Vietnam veteran who served with the 1st Calvary. He received the Purple Heart and many other military awards. He retired from his civilian job in 1998 due to vision loss and has donated his time and talent to volunteering at the Boise VAMC with multiple services and assists other blind veterans on fishing trips and helps them improve their bowling game.
William E. Braye, Mt. Home, served in World War II and was on Bataan when the surrender took place, becoming part of the Bataan Death March. He was a POW until 1945 and later served as a War Crimes Witness against the Japanese guards at Moji POW Camp. He has many military medals, including a Purple Heart with 2 Palms, a POW Medal, Distinguished Unit Citation, and a Bronze star. He retired in 1962 but then became a Red Cross Director and served in Vietnam from 1966-67.
Melanie J. Palmer, Kuna, entered the Army Reserve as a Women’s Army Corps member in 1975 and has served continuously in both active and reserve service for over 28 years. She has several awards and decorations and volunteers with local veterans organizations.
William B. “Bill” Latta, Boise, joined the Army in 1933 as a Private but received a nomination to the United States Military Academy at West Point and graduated in 1938. He fought in World War II in North Africa, Sicily and the South of France. He provided communications for the Churchill-Roosevelt Conference in Casablanca and for General Patton in North Africa. During Vietnam he commanded the US Army Electronics Command developing the night vision scope. He has several decorations and awards.
Michael L. Grigsby, Boise, served in Vietnam 1967-68 as a grenadier for his squad and after being wounded twice was flown back to the US. He is a Purple Heart recipient and belongs to the Military Order of the Purple Heart, Marine Corps League, Disabled American Veterans, Veterans of Foreign Wars, and several other veteran organizations. He serves on the CARES committee for the VA for Idaho and the Management Advisory Committee for VISN20 representing several northwestern states.
Norma Hawkins, Boise, has volunteered at the ID State Veterans Home in Boise for many years and is active in major events including Veterans Olympics, Veterans Day, Nursing Recognition, numerous holiday programs and the annual Volunteer Recognition Dinner. She volunteers weekly at the canteen and serves as the Assistant Treasurer of the ID Veterans Assistance League.
Wendell and Eva Wendt, Lewiston, hold offices in the VFW and VFWA and volunteer in the canteen at the ID State Veterans Home in Lewiston. They also volunteer to sell poppies, highway litter “clean-up”, Meals on Wheels, and the Salvation Army. Wendell served in the Navy during World War II and Korea. The two have been married for 55 years.
Donna M. Rowe, Pocatello, has volunteered at the ID State Veterans Home in Pocatello since it opened in 1992. Married to a US veteran of World War II, Donna serves as a member of the Bannock County Veterans Memorial Association, Idaho Veterans Assistance League, and has been active in the VFW Ladies Auxiliary for the past 35 years.
Marilyn R. Hunt, Post Falls, served as a US Navy Line Officer from 1970 to 1992. She works with the Disabled American Veterans and Auxiliary serving 1000 hours a year. Her compassion for sick veterans or the survivors of those who have passed away is remarkable and has endeared her to many in the area.
Alfred R. Howell, Boise, has volunteered at the Boise VAMC’s Extended Care Unit for 4 years. He trains new volunteers for the Hospice Program and spends countless hours with hospice patients and their families at all hours of the day and night. He is also a source of encouragement and comfort to the staff of the unit as well, who care for dying veterans on a daily basis. He served 4 years in the US Air Force from 1950-54.
Thomas E. Monson, Boise, has been active in the Veterans of Foreign Wars for 50 years. It is stated that not a day goes by that he does not do something for others. He visits with patients at the Boise VAMC, arranges games, snacks, and prizes, and visits with veterans on holidays. He speaks to school children about veterans and is Captain of his VFW Post Honor Guard for funerals. He volunteers for fund-raisers and manages the holiday “Coffee- Safety Break” at an I-84 rest area.
Jonna M. Praegitzer, Boise, teams with her husband to volunteer at the Boise VAMC. She is a comfort supply coordinator, designer of the Voluntary Service’s birthday, get well, and sympathy cards, and oversees the memorial rose garden. She assists blind veterans by spotting for bowling or baiting fish hooks for monthly activities, and providing transportation.
# # #