Skip to content
U.S. National Debt:

Heroes Among Us

Guest column submitted by U.S. Senator Mike Crapo

For the past fourteen years, I have had the honor of recognizing some of the remarkable service of Idahoans with the Spirit of Freedom:  Idaho Veterans Service Award.  This award is presented in two categories:  veterans and volunteers who assist veterans.  Many of these Idahoans participated in formidable world events and returned home, raised families, built up our communities and continued to serve in many capacities assisting fellow Idahoans, including veterans and their families.  Their examples of selfless service are beyond worthy of recognition and are a tip of the iceberg of the many outstanding Americans who make Idaho home. 

This year, 19 Idahoans are being honored with the 2016 Spirit of Freedom Award:


  • Lloyd Kent Brown, Garden City; 
  • Henry W. Clark, Boise;
  • Charlie A. Hollenbeck, Lewiston; 
  • Bud Kelly, Pocatello;
  • Timothy James McBride, Fruitland;
  • Ned Mickelsen,Pocatello;
  • Jacob D. Sattler, Boise;
  • Erin Smith, Boise;
  • John A. Spurny,Mountain Home;
  • Irving Tyrrell, Jr., Boise;
  • Douglas E. Welch, Lewiston; 
  • Joseph H. Whilden, Nampa;


  • Barbara Gehring, Pocatello;
  • William A. Hamilton, Nampa;  
  • Boyd L. Pedersen, Lewiston;  
  • Wayne Sall, Boise;
  • Brett Waters, Shelley; 
  • Rita Weber, Boise;
  • Jim White, Lewiston; 

I am continually inspired by the lives and leadership of the award recipients.  The veteran awardees exemplify valor, perseverance, sacrifice, honor and freedom.  One veteran assisted with the liberation of a concentration camp during World War II while another was freed after being taken as a prisoner of war during the Battle of the Bulge.  Earlier in the year, I had the opportunity to honor the first female armor enlisted soldier in the nation to graduate from the U.S. Army's M1 Armor Crewman School. The veterans honored with the Spirit of Freedom award often go beyond serving our country in the military.  Most of them have returned home and help in their communities.

Idaho is not only home to an exceptional populous of veterans, but also we are blessed to have volunteers who embody the spirit of service and are dedicated to the wellbeing of our veterans, like the gentleman who has helped refurbish more than 105 wheelchairs for disabled veterans or the Idahoan who has volunteered countless hours over the past nearly twenty years helping to calm the nerves of veterans awaiting health services.  These are some examples of the remarkable service of Spirit of Freedom awardees.  Biographies of 2016 and past year Spirit of Freedom Award recipients are posted on my website at  They truly are heroes among us, and it is a privilege to help honor them.

Thank you to the nominating organizations for bringing the service of the awardees to our attention. The Boise Veterans Affairs Medical Center, the Idaho Military Division, the Idaho State Veterans Home-Boise, the Idaho State Veterans Home-Lewiston, the Idaho State Veterans Home-Pocatello, the Idaho State Veterans Cemetery, the Lewis-Clark Valley Veterans Council, the Department of Idaho Military Order of the Purple Heart and the Vietnam Veterans of America Idaho State Councilare among the organizations that submitted nominations for the award this year. 

Since the award's creation, 247 Spirit of Freedom Awards have now been presented.  The award recipients have answered our nation's call of duty and are not just identifying needs in our communities, but also working hard to meet those needs.  They are truly what makes our communities, state and nation great and are representative of the innumerable other Idahoans who perpetuate the Spirit of Freedom through bettering our communities and encouraging others through their examples.  

# # #

 Word Count:  596