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Crapo Announces Spirit Of Freedom Awards

Veterans and volunteers recognized for achievements and dedication

BOISE, ID â?? In ceremonies planned around the state on Veterans Day, Idaho Senator Mike Crapo will honor veterans and volunteers who help veterans with his Spirit of Freedom award. Crapo created the award in 2002 to honor Idaho veterans and volunteers. This yearâ??s recipients include veterans and volunteers from Blackfoot, Boise, Garden City, Lewiston, Mountain Home and Pocatello. â??These Idaho veterans are part of a proud military tradition and have demonstrated remarkable bravery in battle. The volunteers have shown compassion for their fellow men and women, and a commitment here in Idaho to helping veterans and their families meet health care, social and recreational needs,â?? said Crapo. â??Our country is a better place due to the sacrifice and service of these veterans and volunteers, and I am honored to be able to thank them in this way.â?? During award ceremonies in Boise, Lewiston and Pocatello on Veteransâ?? Day, Crapoâ??s staff will present veterans and those who volunteer with veterans with a â??Spirit of Freedomâ?? certificate and a flag flown over the United States Capitol in their honor. A number of agencies participated in nominating individuals for this award including the Idaho Division of Veteranâ??s Affairs, the Idaho State Veteransâ?? Homes, the VA Regional Office, the VA Medical Center in Boise, as well as commanders of veteransâ?? service organizations in Idaho. A list of recipients with a brief biography on each one accompanies this news release.Crapo Spirit of Freedom 2005Veteran Category:â?¢Kent W. Phelps, Blackfoot. Born and raised in Montpelier, Ken joined the Air Force in 1953 at 17 and retired after 20 years. He received many awards and decorations for his dedicated service, splitting his time between administration and flight operations over the course of four overseas tours. He is now the most senior Veteransâ?? Employment Representative working for the Idaho Department of Commerce and Labor and claims 31 years of service to the communities, employers and veterans of Idaho. In the evenings he volunteers with the American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars.â?¢John P. Rogers, Pocatello. John enlisted in the Army in 1965, attended Officer Candidate School and went to Vietnam as a 2nd Lieutenant. He served three tours and worked in Combat Demolitions. When he returned, he was harassed by war protestors, and said that experience lead him to work to be sure the troops returning from Afghanistan and Iraq would never face the appalling treatment that was visited upon Vietnam Veterans when they returned home. He founded the Yellow Ribbon Campaign of Idaho.â?¢Murray A. â??Peteâ?? Waller, Boise. Pete joined the United States Marine Corps in 1939 and served in the Philippines in WWII. He was taken prisoner and with a foot injury, forced to be part of the Bataan Death March. He was then sent to Japan to do forced labor in a coal mine for more than three years under horrific conditions.â?¢Thomas L. Wittman Lewiston. Tom was born in Southwick and is one of ten children. He served in the Navy during WWII and received the American Campaign Medal, Asiatic Pacific Area Campaign and the World War II Victory Medal. He is retired from Potlatch Corporation.â?¢Leonard E. Bell, Pocatello. Leonard joined the United States Marine Corps in 1943. He served in the South Pacific in WWII and his unit was the first in Nagasaki after it was bombed. He was discharged in 1946 and worked for IBM until he retired.â?¢L. David Walker, Boise. Dave served in Atlantic Fleet in the 1960s and was a Seaman 2nd Class. He has been a resident of the Idaho State Veterans Home (ISVH) in Boise since 1995 and volunteers in many areas. He delivers papers to other residents and helps set up the dining room for meals each day. Even with limitations, he works with the staff at ISVH in the mission of â??Caring for Americaâ??s Heroesâ??.â?¢Walter Jackson, Boise. Walter served three tours in the 101st Airborne Division in Vietnam. After Vietnam he returned to college and then re-entered the Army as a Second Lieutenant, retiring as a Major in 1991. He is the recipient of the Combat Infantrymanâ??s Badge, Bronze Star Medal with V Device and three Oak Leaf Clusters, Meritorious Service Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster, Purple Heart with Oak Leaf Cluster, Pathfinder and Airborne Badges, German Jump Wings, and the Army Commendation medal with Oak Leaf Cluster. After retirement he worked for the State of Idaho as a Veterans Service Officer, retiring in 2004. Volunteer Category:â?¢Richard Bengoechea, Boise. Served in WWII in Pattonâ??s 3rd Army and participated in the Battle of the Bulge. He was wounded and awarded the Purple Heart as well as other medals and combat ribbons. He has been active in the Military Order of the Purple Heart since 1990 and restored antique cars and military vehicles which he takes to many parades and schools. He volunteers for the local Military Order of the Purple Heart as well as many other veterans and community groups.â?¢Patrick L. McFadden, Garden City. Pat joined the Marines in 1960. He moved back to Idaho three years ago and became active in helping with the VA Mental Health Garden. He has developed a competent crew of veteran volunteers to support the therapeutic benefits of the garden and enlisted the help of numerous volunteer groups to work on the project, raising over $13,000 from community donations.â?¢Darlene Henderson, Blackfoot. As a Marine wife, Darlene traveled with her husband of 44 years during his military enlistment. When her husband joined the Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) she also joined the Auxiliary of Vietnam Veterans of America and helps with projects for both groups. She also works with her group to collect gifts for the Idaho State Veterans Home (ISVH) at Christmas and supplies food for special activities. The VVA emphasizes that it would be difficult to complete any of their projects without her assistance.â?¢Irma E. Wise, Lewiston. Irma began volunteering at the ISVH in Lewiston in 1998 and reads stories to the residents. She has helped with completing food surveys, visiting with residents, and helping with various activities including Christmas projects and Veterans Olympics.â?¢Ken K. Ugaki, Blackfoot. Ken served in the Army from 1945 to 1947 with Army Intelligence, spending an entire year in Japan. He retired from Spudnik Equipment at age 70. His fortitude is exemplified in his volunteer efforts at the IDSV. He led the Food Convoy Program of the American Legion which benefits the home. He has enlisted the help of his family in providing annual fishing outings, including a steak dinner for participants from the home. He has a long history of stalwart service to the State Veterans home and veteran community in Idaho.â?¢Carol Dalton, Mountain Home. A retired school teacher and member of the American Legion Auxiliary for over 35 years, Carol volunteers at the ISVH in Boise. She works in the Ft. Boise Canteen and serves on the Volunteer Roundtable. She volunteers on many projects at the home including the Christmas Gift Shop, and chaired a fundraiser to help furnish a room in the new Alzheimerâ??s Wing. She also organized projects to send items to troops deployed overseas. She recently received an award for a program she started in 1995 to collect toys children at the Elks Rehabilitation Pediatric Ward.