November 07, 2006

17 Idahoans to receive Spirit of Freedom Award

Crapo to honor veterans, volunteers on Veterans Day, November 11

Washington, DC - Seventeen Idahoans will be honored this Veterans' Day with the Spirit of Freedom Award during ceremonies held in Boise, Lewiston, Twin Falls, Coeur d'Alene and Pocatello. Idaho Senator Mike Crapo established the award four years ago to honor veterans for their service to our nation and the volunteers who assist our veterans. The statewide nomination process includes input from a number of partners, including the Idaho Division of Veteran's Affairs, the Idaho State Veterans' Homes (ISVH), the VA Regional Office, the VA Medical Center (VAMC) in Boise, as well as the commanders of chartered veterans' service organizations in Idaho. "Our nation owes a great debt of gratitude to the service and sacrifice of our veterans for maintaining the freedom we enjoy everyday," Crapo said. "There are also a great many Americans who give of themselves for our veterans. The Spirit of Freedom is meant to honor both." Since Crapo began the awards in 2002, 81 Idahoans have received the Spirit of Freedom Award. The following is the list of this year's recipients of the Spirit of Freedom, with some of the comments received during the nomination process. Please note that some veterans were nominated for their volunteer service: 2006 Spirit of Freedom Veterans • Richard Bodine, Lewiston. Richard is recognized for his service to our country in the U.S. Army during WWII. He received the Asiatic Pacific Theater Campaign Medal with a Bronze Battle Star, the Good Conduct Medal and the American Defense Service Medal. He also received the Purple Heart for wounds received in action on the 28th of May, 1944, on Biak Island. • Bob Downing, Twin Falls. Bob was in an artillery unit of the First Marine Division in New Caledonia during WWII near the front lines. He served in several other combat areas as well before returning home and going to work for the U.S. Postal Service in 1947. He retired in 1980. He has spent the last 15 years volunteering his time with the American Legion to help with the food convoy that takes packages to the ISVH in Boise. He has served as membership chairman for the American Legion for the past 4 years. He also helps with Camp Rainbow Gold, Relay for Life and also volunteers at Magic Valley Regional Medical Center. • Bernard F. Fisher, Kuna. Bernard served in the Navy in the 1940's and then with the Air National Guard, before joining the Air Force from 1952 to 1974. He served in Vietnam and received the Medal of Honor for his actions on March 10, 1966. When a pilot crash-landed on an airstrip that was battle torn, Bernard opted to risk his life to save the pilot. He proceeded to land his aircraft on the airstrip, run over to other aircraft with gunfire all around him, and rescue the downed pilot. During that time, Bernard's aircraft was struck 19 times by gunfire. Despite the fact that his plane had been hit, he managed to get enough speed to take off and return to base. President Lyndon B. Johnson awarded him the Medal of Honor on Jan. 19th, 1967. This American hero now takes time to visit hospitalized veterans and engage in public speaking events on behalf of all veterans. He has been part of the "Salute to Hospitalized Veterans" for many years. • Keith Galbraith, Boise. Keith has been a volunteer at the Idaho State Veterans Home for over 16 years. He has helped organize ceramics and leather work programs and has also assisted with fishing programs, rodeos, fairs, and other areas as needed. Keith served in the Army in 1944 and 1945 and was awarded the Expert Infantry Badge. Based on his outstanding performance, he was then assigned to instruct other soldiers in weapons and infantry training. His dedication as a volunteer at the ISVH reminds us of the depth of his commitment to helping our veterans. • Philip V. Hawkins, Boise. Philip is being commended for his twenty-four year active duty service in the Army plus time in the Idaho National Guard. He served two combat tours in Vietnam and has many awards and decorations for his service, including a Purple Heart with Oak Leaf Cluster. After retiring he worked with the Army National Guard and the Idaho Department of Corrections in fitness, wellness and recreation programs. Phil was instrumental in beginning the Idaho Veterans Olympics and continues to be the chairman of the committee. He is currently the Volunteer Coordinator for the Idaho State Veterans Home in Boise. • William "Dusty" Rhoads, Coeur d'Alene. "Dusty" served in the Air Force for over 26 years and has traveled the world in that time. He volunteered to serve in Vietnam from June of 1966 to July of 1967. He was assigned to the 1st Air Commando Squadron as a weapons load crew chief. He also maintained the guns and weapons on aircraft during special duty with Army helicopter units. He had many very interesting assignments during his Air Force career. After retiring from the military he continued to serve and protect our citizens with the Kootenai County Sheriff's Department until 2002. • Allison L. Williams, Pocatello. "Ali", as he likes to be called, served in the Army as a paratrooper and later as an infantryman attached to the 385th Regiment in WWII under the command of General Patton. Ali was recognized for his bravery by receiving the Silver Star as well as the European African Middle Eastern Service Ribbon, the Good Conduct Medal, and the Victory Medal. He returned home to continue his service to his country as a good citizen, hard worker and devoted husband and father. He is a quiet man who speaks with honor and respect about his time in the military. 2006 Spirit of Freedom Volunteers • G. F. "Bud" Chilton, Pocatello. Bud is an Air Force veteran who served on active duty beginning in 1942, during WWII and then stayed in active reserves until 1955. In his civilian life, he worked as the Director of Safety at FMC for 27 years. When Bud started his volunteer work with the ISVH, he brought with him a true dedication to the veterans. In the past 10 years, his ability to relate to veterans and even remember what music they like, has generated service at such a personal level that his is missed whenever he is away. His cheery smile and delightful wit are enjoyed by all. • Helen B. Dombrovskis, Twin Falls. Helen donates between 500 and 700 hours per year in service to our veterans, serving in various volunteer positions for over 15 years. She enjoys collecting and packing clothing, gifts, books and personal items for the annual Veterans' Food & Gift Convoy to the Pocatello and Boise Veterans' Homes. Helen has served in the American Legion Auxiliary as 5th District President, Secretary, Unit President, Secretary and Treasurer and Poppy Chairwoman; she also helped with the Post #7 Newsletter. She also assists with the veterans' fishing trip to the Snake River Canyon and helps prepare Christmas food and gift boxes for veterans to be distributed by the Twin Falls County Service Office. • Don Holloway, Glenns Ferry. Don is being recognized for his leadership in volunteer service for our veterans. Don is always in the Veterans Honor Guard that leads parades and participates in funerals and memorial services. He supervises Honor Society students as they help veterans place crosses and flags on veterans' graves during the Memorial Day weekend and helps with flags on other holidays. Don also participates in the Adopt a Highway Program, Red Cross blood drives at Veterans facilities and has helped spearhead the Community Food and Toy Basket Programs for the past 15 years. Last year he received special recognition from the VFW National Headquarters for over 2000 hours of community service. • Margie Kirby Johnson, Meridian. Margie has been a volunteer at the Boise VAMC and ISVH for 25 years in the service of veterans. She chairs the Patient Carnival, visits hospitalized veterans and even surprises veterans with her carrot cake on their birthdays. Her kindness has helped many patients and their families adjust to illness and disability and in finding resources in the community. Margie is a role model for other volunteers to follow. Due to her life-long commitment to the well being of others, she portrays the perfect example of what citizenship should be. She was chosen as the Volunteer of the Year in 1995 by the ISVH. • Richard Morris, Lewiston. Richard served in the Marine Corps earlier in his life. That experience helps him relate to other veterans and what they go through. He is a lifetime member of the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, and the Marine Corps League. Richard helps with food drives, barbeques and painting T-shirts. He volunteers at the local rodeo in September and with the Marine Corps Toys for Tots program at Christmas. He helps veterans with fishing trips, playing cards, ceremonies and parties. He now works with the Young Marines and is part of the Honors Ceremony at the funerals for veterans. • Christine Rugg, Lewiston. Chris joined the VFW in 1953 with her husband, and both put in many volunteer hours on behalf of veterans. When her husband passed away in 1980, she continued their work of caring for veterans by volunteering at the State Veterans Hospital, where she works in the canteen, helping on fishing trips and going on outings to the fair. Chris also bakes for the residents and provides them with goodies for the holidays. She says volunteering is a complete joy for her and describes herself as a "born volunteer." • Edna Siggelkow, Boise. Edna joined the Ladies Auxiliary to the Veterans of Foreign Wars 43 years ago and has volunteered at the VA Medical Center and Idaho State Veterans Home for many years. Her service has been much appreciated as she helps with the Veterans Olympics, bingo games, the Patient Carnival, and the Christmas party. She serves on various planning committees each year and visits every patient in the hospital once a month with a Comfort Cart containing items they may need as well as a small gift for special occasions. Edna is one who feels that it is important to help our veterans and is always willing to do just that. • Jack Trail, Lewiston. Jack has volunteered at the ISVH for eight years and has helped in many ways including working in the canteen and on fishing trips, fairs, and the Christmas party. Earlier in his service he would bring his grandson to visit the veterans and play bingo. Jack's service includes not only veterans but also family and friends. He has volunteered with the Meals on Wheels program for the past 13 years. He loves helping the residents of the ISVH because they deserve so much and says he sees the gratitude shown on their faces each day. • Velma M. Williams, Boise. Velma has donated 2600 hours of volunteer work at the Boise VA Medical Center since 1999. She contributes to the veterans' community whenever needed, including working with special events for veterans such as the Christmas party, Veteran's Olympics, holiday barbeques, Thanksgiving Dinner and the Annual Patient Carnival. She is a lifetime member of the Ladies Auxiliary Military Order of the Purple Heart, Marine Corps League Auxiliary and Disabled Veterans Auxiliary. She always accepts special assignments when the need arises to help veterans. • Augusta "Tiny" Wright, Boise. Tiny is recognized for her many volunteer efforts over the years. The hours of service she has provided since 1991 have helped make a difference in the lives of our veterans. Tiny volunteers at the Idaho State Veterans Home as well as the VAMC. She helps every year with the American Legion Auxiliary Gift Shop and is always willing to help in activities like fishing trips, card parties or baking goodies for the residents. She loves visiting with veterans and can always be counted on to help care for America's heroes. # # #