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Idaho Brimming With Spirit Of Freedom

Guest column submitted by U.S. Senator Mike Crapo

Idahoan and Vietnam Veteran Jim Chally overcomes symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis to assist fellow veterans and their families by giving long-term caregivers of veterans needed breaks from providing round-the-clock care of their loved ones.  Jim has provided this care as a volunteer for the past four years with the Legacy Corps for Veterans and Military Families, which supports family caregivers.  Jim shared a fond memory of his time serving veterans as part of his nomination for the 2017 Spirit of Freedom Award.  Jim recalled his experience taking a World War II Veteran to coffee each week to enable the veteran’s wife to run errands.  When the veteran’s health declined, the coffee trips turned into bedside visits.  Jim asked his fellow veteran what he wanted his legacy to be.  The veteran responded that his legacy was to “raise strong, kind, and beautiful daughters,” and he felt he had fulfilled it.  Jim was able to share this with the veteran’s family.  The veteran has since passed away, and this remains a loving gift.  This exemplifies the depth of giving among the 22 veterans and volunteers receiving the 2017 Spirit of Freedom Award.  Many have put their lives on the line in service to our nation and continue to serve throughout our communities. 

For the past fifteen years, I have had the honor of recognizing 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.  Some of the veteran awardees served in our nation’s military for decades and after retirement from military service went on to service-related, civilian careers while also devoting time to volunteer efforts in Idaho communities.  The volunteers are dedicated to the wellbeing of our veterans, their families and others in our communities.  The following are the 2017 Spirit of Freedom Award recipients, and biographies of the recipients are posted on my official website:


  • Nicholas “Nick” Donald Carson, Pocatello; 
  • James E. Chally, Boise;
  • Donald “Don” L. Erickson, Clarkston, WA; 
  • David Freeman, Middleton;
  • Joseph E. Groves, Deary;
  • Terry L. Meiners, Boise;
  • Dallas Popa, Pocatello;
  • Terry L. Regelin, Boise;
  • Frank F. Smith, Idaho Falls;
  • Dennis L. Stevens, Boise;
  • William Robert Welch, Lewiston;
  • Roger Wright, Pocatello; 


  • Rudolph E. “Rick” Carnaroli, Pocatello;
  • Glen Fairbourn, Boise;
  • Helen Fairbourn, Boise;
  • Dareld Hazeltine, Kendrick; 
  • Janet Hrico, Eagle;  
  • Walter “Walt” Johnson, Chubbuck;  
  • Judith “Judy” A. Kane, Lewiston;
  • Sheila A. Kopczynski, Lewiston;
  • Nancy G. Shamel, Idaho Falls; and 
  • Steve Spickelmier, Boise.

Thank you to the nominating organizations for bringing the service of the awardees to our attention. The American Legion Post 39, the Bannock County Veterans Services, the Boise Veterans Affairs Medical Center, the Idaho Division of Veterans Services, the Idaho State Veterans Home—Boise, the Idaho State Veterans Home—Lewiston, the Idaho State Veterans Home—Pocatello, the Idaho State Veterans Cemetery, the Marine Corps League, the Veterans of Foreign Wars Baker-Lind Post 3913, and the Vietnam Veterans of America Idaho State Council are among the organizations that submitted nominations for the award this year. 

Since the award’s creation, 269 Spirit of Freedom Awards have now been presented.  The award recipients are truly what make 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. 

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