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Crapo Announces Spirit of Freedom Award Recipients

Awards Recognize the Service and Sacrifice of Veterans, Volunteers Across Idaho

Washington, D.C.-Idaho Senator Mike Crapo today announced the names of twenty-one Idahoans-twelve veterans and nine volunteers-who will be honored with his Spirit of Freedom Award at ceremonies to be held throughout Idaho on Veterans Day, November 11.

The Spirit of Freedom Award was created by Crapo thirteen years ago to recognize the outstanding service of Idaho veterans as well as the many Idahoans who dedicate extensive volunteer time and service supporting those who have served our country. 

"The veterans honored with this award have spent decades serving our country.  They continue to set the example of selfless leadership by volunteering to serve their communities and fellow veterans," said Crapo.  "In addition, these awards honor the work of many community volunteers who selflessly give of themselves to ensure our veterans receive the care and compassion they have rightfully earned."

The 2015 Spirit of Freedom Awards will be presented at the following ceremonies, all of which open to the public.

Boise (Note: Sen. Crapo will be in attendance to present awards in Boise)
Idaho State Veterans Home
320 Collins Road
11:00 AM Mountain Time

Firth High School
101 N Park Ave
10:00 AM Mountain Time

Twin Falls
Twin Falls City Park
400 & 500 block of Shoshone Street East
11:00 AM Mountain Time

Coeur d'Alene and Hayden
Hayden City Hall
8930 N. Government Way
11:00 AM Pacific Time

Idaho State Veterans Home
821 21st Avenue
2:00 PM Pacific Time

Idaho State Veterans Home
1957 Alvin Ricken Dr.
2:30 PM Mountain Time

Veterans Memorial Field
855 Ontario St
1:00 PM Pacific Time

The following biographies highlight the military service and volunteer contributions of the 21 Idahoans being honored by Sen. Crapo.


Fred Arbuckle, Pocatello (U.S. Air Force)

The Idaho State Veterans Home in Pocatello nominated Fred for this award for his dedicated service to our nation.  Fred served as a flight engineer on a B26 tow target plane, which entailed trailing a target behind a B26 while B24 fighters took target practice.  This required no shortage of nerve and precision, which are traits than run deep in Fred.

Brian Beeler, Hayden (U.S. Army)

The Veterans of Foreign Wars nominated Brian for this award for his distinguished service to our nation and his commitment to making a difference for fellow veterans, their families and children.  His volunteer efforts include serving as District 1 Commander for the VFW Idaho, Quartermaster for the VFW Post 889.  He is also an American Legion member and volunteer, serves in the Honor Guard for the North Idaho Veterans Chapter.

Howard J. Bigelow, Sagle (U.S. Navy)

Howard was nominated by the Vietnam Veterans of America.  He volunteers at the Veterans of Foreign Wars and is the service officer for five local veterans' organizations.  He is known as the driving force who brought Veterans Stand Down to Sandpoint, helping more than 3,000 veterans and their families.

Terry G. Glassinger, Meridian (U.S. Air Force)

The Idaho State Veterans Cemetery, where Terry has volunteered for more than a year, nominated Terry for this award.  The cemetery considers Terry to be a vital part of the cemetery's operations to provide the highest honor and dignity to memorialize the service of veterans and their loved ones.

Wayne Goetz, Kimberly (U.S. Navy)

Nominated by Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2136, Wayne has served as Commander of the Magic Valley Honor Guard and Commander of the Twin Falls Veterans Health Commission, and he maintains his local Veterans Cemetery. 

Jack Kremer, Pocatello (U.S. Army Air Corps)

The Idaho State Veterans Home in Pocatello nominated Jack for this award for his commitment to community.  Following his service to the nation, Jack worked in emergency preparedness in California, helping to protect communities from wildfires, floods and mudslides.  Later, he relocated to Pocatello to be closer to his children.

James Lawson, Boise (U.S. Navy)

The Idaho State Veterans Home in Boise, where James has been a volunteer for many years, nominated him for this award. He is responsible for the home's library, helps with outings and assists the activity staff.  He also sounds Taps for all veterans who pass at the home and he gives freely of his time, volunteering 560 hours so far this year alone. 

Ascension Martinez, Boise (U.S. Air Force)

The Idaho State Veterans Cemetery, where he has volunteered since its establishment in 2004, nominated Ascension, known as "Marty."  He is a respected volunteer who provides mentorship to his peers and staff and has earned a reputation for being a dependable volunteer who is consistent and unwavering in volunteering his time and knowledge from years of experience. 

Rolf Simonsen, Lewiston (U.S. Army)

The Idaho State Veterans Home in Lewiston nominated Rolf for this honor.  After his military service, Rolf worked as a carpenter, later working for both the Montana Department of Fish and Wildlife and for Idaho Fish and Game. 

Russell Smith, Pocatello (U.S. Army, U.S. Army Air Corps)

The Idaho State Veterans Home in Pocatello nominated Russell for this award for his admirable service to our nation.  Russell, who enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1942, trained in demolition and explosives while stationed in Italy and was part of the U.S. force which stormed the beach at Normandy on D-Day.  He received many honors for his distinguished service including receiving three purple hearts, and April 23 is proclaimed "Russell Smith Day" in Burley, his birthplace. 

Boyd Whitworth, Pocatello (U.S. Army)

Boyd Whitworth, who was born and raised in Firth, served four years in the U.S. Army as a combat medic in the South Pacific and the Philippines during World War II.  The Idaho State Veterans Home in Pocatello nominated him for this award.  Boyd has led a life of service, helping his neighbors, serving his nation and backing causes in his community where he saw a need.  He helped start Dawn Enterprises, a company serving those with physical and intellectual disabilities. 

Marvin L. Wolfe, Boise (U.S. Navy)

The Boise VA Medical Center nominated Marvin for this award, as he continues to serve his fellow veterans and the Boise community.  Marvin was a VA Voluntary Service Representative for the Masonic Service Association of North America for many years and has spent 3,500 hours visiting veterans at the Boise VA Medical Center over the past 26 years.  His other volunteer service includes coordinating a Boy Scout Color Guard, serving as a Scout Leader for more than 60 years, and serving as training commissioner for the Ore-Ida Council.  His exemplary leadership has been recognized through many honors including Scouting's Silver Beaver award in 1994.   

Volunteers to be Honored


Connie Evans, Nampa

The Boise VA Medical Center nominated Connie for this award for her long-standing devotion to veterans and their well-being.  Connie is recognized for never shying away from leading with her commitment to the American Legion Auxiliary and the Boise VA Medical Center.  Connie was inspired to volunteer her time serving veterans because her husband, Dale, is U.S. Air Force Veteran.  She has been volunteering to serve veterans since 1975.  She has served in a number of roles at the medical center, including American legion Auxiliary Deputy Representative, Representative for the VA Voluntary Service (VAVS) Committee and Chairwoman for the VAVS Executive Committee. 

Deborah Foley, Chubbock

The Idaho State Veterans Home in Pocatello, where Deborah has volunteered for four years, nominated her for this award.  Deborah plays many instruments, including the piano, saxophone and harp and shares her gift of music with residents.  Deborah is known for going the extra mile to serve others and makes her performances special by playing residents' song requests, inviting residents to sing along and invoking memories through playing music from many different eras. 

Cynthia Gentry , Lenore

Over the past four years, Cynthia, known for her kind heart and caring nature, has devoted more than 1,200 hours of service to veterans.  The Idaho State Veterans Home in Lewiston, where she works in the library and reads newspapers and stories to residents, nominated her for this award.   

Sylvia Goetz , Kimberly

Sylvia Goetz is being honored for her efforts to assist veterans for more than seven years.  Sylvia is coordinator for the Magic Valley Honor Guard and the Veterans Health Commission.  The Veterans of Foreign War Post 2136 nominated Sylvia for this award.  She has crocheted more than 200 afghans and hats for residents of the Boise VA Medical Center and gives generously of her time and abilities to brighten the lives of veterans and their families.

Ron Gray , Clarkston, WA (U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Merchant Marine)

The Marine Corps League nominated Ron Gray for this award, as he is extremely active assisting veterans in the Lewiston area.  Ron has been the President of the Lewis & Clark Valley Veterans Council and volunteers at the Idaho State Veterans Home in Lewiston.  Ron has been active for 10 years with the Marine Corps League.  Some of the efforts he has been instrumental in include assisting with Toys for Tots and heading up the rifle detail and color guard for 80 to 100 veterans' funerals per year.

Suzanne Millbach , Hayden

Suzanne Millbach is known for never tiring from helping those around her.  The VFW Auxiliary 889 nominated her for this award noting her passion for helping veterans.  The list of activities Suzanne has been involved with to help veterans is long and includes fixing up homes for homeless veterans, serving in leadership roles for many veterans organizations and leading a community garden effort to provide veterans with fresh vegetables.   

Stewart Portela , Firth

The Vietnam Veterans of America Idaho State Council nominated Stewart Portela for the 2015 Spirit of Freedom Award for his more than 20 years of service to his fellow veterans.  He is acknowledged for organizing outstanding Veterans Day programs and making sure that every veteran is recognized for their service.  He has written books about U.S. wars, maintains a "Veterans Photo Wall" at the Firth High School and volunteers to read the names of those who served at ceremonies honoring veterans.  Stewart is a teacher at Firth High School and has taught his students to have a great respect for all veterans.

Gordon "Gordy" Shroll, Chubbuck (U.S. Air Force)

For the past four years, Gordy Shroll, a U.S. Air Force veteran, has volunteered at the Idaho State Veterans Home in Pocatello, which nominated him for this award.  Each month, Gordy assists with outings, swim exercise, special events and resident visits.  A fond memory of some of the joy he brought to others was when he surprised a resident, who also loved motorcycles, with a ride on Gordy's motorcycle for the resident's birthday.

Laurie Weatherby , Kuna

The Idaho State Veterans Home in Boise nominated Laurie for this honor for long-time assistance to veterans.  She is a Junior U.S. History and Senior Government teacher at Kuna High School.  Laurie has volunteered at the home for more than 8 years, helping with the home's Veterans Day program and Winter Ball.  For more than 10 years, she has also organized a Veterans Day assemblies at Emmett and Kuna High Schools. 


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