Nominated by members veterans’ organizations, award honors those who continue to serve the Idaho’s greater veterans community
WASHINGTON - Idaho Senator Mike Crapo will recognize 22 Idahoans nominated by veterans’ organizations for serving our nation and military veterans through The Spirit of Freedom: Idaho Veterans Service Award.
The award, began by Crapo in 2002, is a small way to recognize and acknowledge the contributions of Idaho’s veterans and volunteers to the wider Idaho veterans’ community. Each Spirit of Freedom Award recipient will receive a certificate for their service as well as a United States flag that has been flown over the U.S. Capitol building. The nominations for the Spirit of Freedom Award are made by a number of veterans' organizations, including the Idaho Division of Veterans Services, the Idaho State Veterans Homes, the VA Regional Office, the VA Medical Center in Boise, and the commanders of various veterans service organizations.
“The Spirit of Freedom Awards recognize our veterans and the volunteers who set an example of leadership and service in our communities and across our state,” said Crapo. “Often, these veterans and volunteers humbly serve others without seeking recognition or praise. With the Spirit of Freedom Award, we, as a community, come together to collectively say ‘thank you’ to the women and men who continue to serve their fellow Idahoans.”
Members of Senator Crapo’s staff will present the Spirit of Freedom Awards during these events across Idaho.
All times local
Thursday, November 9
10:00 a.m. – Firth High School, Firth
Saturday, November 11, 3:00 p.m.
11:00 a.m. – Twin Falls City Park, 400 & 500 block of Shoshone Street, East, Twin Falls
11:00 a.m. – Idaho State Veterans Home, Boise
11:00 a.m. – Hayden City Hall, Hayden
2:30 p.m. - Idaho State Veterans Home, Pocatello
3:00 p.m. - Idaho State Veterans Home, Lewiston
Monday, November 13, Noon
Noon - Deary Community Center, Deary
The following biographies for each of the recipients highlight their significant contributions to our country and its veterans.
Nicholas “Nick” Donald Carson, Pocatello: Bannock County Veterans Services nominated Nick Carson for his service to our nation, recognizing his dedication to seeing his brothers and sisters who served in the military succeed. Nick served for nearly four years in the U.S. Marine Corps, before he was honorably discharged in 2006. Nick was deployed three times, once to Iraq and twice to Japan. He went through sniper school and advanced sniper training after he was wounded in action. He earned many recognitions for his service, including the Purple Heart, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal and Rifle and Pistol Expert Badges.
Nick is a small business owner, husband to Britney Baker Carson and father of Parker and Kendall. Nick also continues to serve through many organizations, including assisting with the Idaho Field of Heroes Memorial, Toys for Tots, POW*MIA Awareness Association and the Veteran Student Service Center at Idaho State University. Melissa J. Hartman, who submitted Nick’s nomination, noted that, “He is an example to others in our community by giving back and caring deeply about others,” and that he, “lives by the Marine Corps motto ‘Semper Fidelis,’ Always Faithful: to family, community, his fellow veterans, and his State, and his country. He, without a doubt represents the Spirit of Freedom here in Idaho.” Nick Carson not only served our nation with distinction, but also continues to give immeasurably to the community. I commend Nick Carson for his leadership by example, and welcome the opportunity to honor him with the 2017 Spirit of Freedom Award.
James “Jim” E. Chally, Boise: The Idaho Division of Veterans Services nominated James Edward Chally for his tireless commitment to serving veterans, many of whom are afflicted with Alzheimer’s disease or care for a spouse who has dementia. David E Brasuell with the Idaho Division of Veterans Services wrote, “Over his four years of volunteer service with Legacy Corps for Veterans and Military Families—a non-profit dedicated to supporting family caregivers—Mr. Chally has provided 2,017 hours of service.” Jim Chally served as a Corporal in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1966 through 1972. This included one tour in Vietnam with the Air Naval Gunfire Liaison Company.
Jim Chally was born in American Falls, Idaho. After his honorable discharge in 1968, Jim earned a degree in Political Science and then completed his teaching certificate. His career included teaching elementary school, working in sales and serving as a dispatcher for a long-haul trucking company. Jim’s personal experience with Multiple Sclerosis and watching his father endure Alzheimer’s deepened his understanding of the emotional burden long-term care placed on families and inspired his work with Legacy Corps for Veterans and Families. Jim Chally’s biography submitted with his nomination states that, “During his tenure as a Legacy Corps volunteer, Jim has provided consistent, compassionate companionship to nine different families often up until the day when their loved one has drawn their last breath.” In Jim’s words, “There is something about being in the military that helps you bond with other veterans, regardless of which branch or era you served in.” Jim Chally is an amazing person who draws on his experience as a veteran and overcomes his own medical challenges to help others. Thank you, Jim Chally, for your remarkable service. It is an honor to recognize you with the 2017 Spirit of Freedom Award.
Donald “Don” L. Erickson, Clarkston, WA: The Marine Corps League nominated Major Don Erickson for his extensive service to our nation and ongoing service in the community. Don Erickson joined the U.S. Marine Corps in the delay entry program while still at Lewiston High School. He then went on active duty in 1972 and served continually on active duty for the next 28 years until his military retirement on August 1, 2000. During his service, Don served at eight permanent duty stations and deployed to more than a dozen overseas bases, including a combat tour in support of Desert Shield and Desert Storm. The awards and recognitions Don earned for his exemplary service are too numerous to list in their entirety but include the Meritorious Service Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal and Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal.
Following his retirement from the U.S. Marine Corps, Don and his wife, Therese, returned to the Lewis-Clark Valley, and Don has worked at the Idaho Department of Labor in Lewiston for more than 16 years. He is the Disabled Veteran Outreach Program specialist for North Central Idaho, covering Clearwater, Idaho, Latah, Lewis and Nez Perce counties. In this position, Don assists veterans with employment barriers. In addition to his career serving others, he devotes considerable personal time to service, serving as Chairman of the Lewiston/Clarkston Veterans Advisory Council for the Lewiston Veterans Affairs (VA) Community-Based Outreach Clinic, a volunteer member of the Asotin County, WA, Veterans Advisory Board that oversees the county’s veterans assistance fund, the Senior Vice Commander for the Disabled American Veterans Chapter 18 and Surgeon for Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Post 10043. He also assists with funeral/military honor details, Toys for Tots, the Valley Veterans food drive, Wreaths Across America and many other activities. Don’s friends and family, including his wife, Therese; son, Chad; daughter, Kristi; and four grandchildren have much to be proud of for his immeasurable, committed service. Thank you, Major Don Erickson, for your dedicated service to our nation and ongoing service in the community. It is an honor to recognize your outstanding service with the 2017 Spirit of Freedom Award.
David Freeman, Middleton: American Legion Post 39 nominated veteran David Freeman, who is described as “a non-stop volunteer for veterans.” David served in the U.S. Army for approximately three years during the Vietnam War and earned honors including Expert Rifle M-14 recognition and the National Defense Ribbon. After serving in the military, he continued his career of service as a Trooper in the Idaho State Police and a Federal Bureau of Investigation Agent. He continued his career in investigations, working as a Contract Background Investigator for the Boise Airport Police; a Contract Investigator for the U.S. Attorney’s Office of Boise, Financial Litigation Unit; Background Investigator for a contractor for the City of McCall; and Adjunct Professor for Treasure Valley Community College, in Criminal Justice.
Larré K. Robertson wrote the following about David when nominating him for the award, “It is men such as these upon which this nation was and continues to be built.” David, a founding member of the American Legion Middleton Post 39 and the Post’s Honor Guard, is credited with serving veterans in Idaho for more than 13 years through various capacities with the Middleton American Legion. This includes his dedication of more than 10,000 hours to serving veterans and performing honors for veterans more than 200 times over a decade. He has started and obtained funding for American Legion programs for veterans in need of assistance and dedicated his time to providing funeral services at the Idaho State Veterans Cemetery and participating in other programs, including Memorial Day, Wreaths Across America and the Spirit of 465 ceremonies. David Freeman’s devotion to his fellow veterans is exemplary, and recognizing his committed service with the 2017 Spirit of Freedom Award is an honor.
Joseph E. Groves, Deary: Joseph Groves is receiving the 2017 Spirit of Freedom Award for his military service—26 years of active duty service in the U.S. Navy from 1977-2003—and extensive, ongoing service to fellow veterans and others. The Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Baker-Lind Post 3913 nominated him for this award. Senior Chief Petty Officer Groves served in many areas of the world and nation during his military career. This includes his deployments enforcing United Nations sanctions against Iraq and providing communications support in the Granada conflict. He earned many recognitions for his distinguished service, including four Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medals, eight Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals and six Navy Good Conduct Medals.
He has worked for more than 13 years at the University of Idaho in Asset Accounting as a Capital Assets Specialist. In addition to his military and civilian careers he devotes considerable time to assisting others. He has been very active in the VFW, as a member of the VFW Baker-Lind Post 3913 for 15 years and holding leadership positions in the Kendrick VFW as Adjutant and Quartermaster and Idaho VFW District 2 as Junior-Vice Commander. He has served as an opportunities representative for the Kendrick VFW’s Voices of Democracy and Patriots Pen Scholarship program, and he has dedicated extensive time to leading efforts to renovate Deary’s Veterans Memorial. He also volunteers for veterans’ funeral services in Deary, Bovill, Kendrick and Troy, and assists with many other service efforts. We are fortunate that Joseph Groves has chosen to make Idaho his home. His committed service to our nation has been expanded into substantial service in our communities. I thank Joseph Groves for his extraordinary dedication through honoring him with the 2017 Spirit of Freedom Award.
Terry L. Meiners, Boise: Master Sergeant Terry L. Meiners, who served in active duty in the U.S. Air Force for nearly 22 years from 1967 until his military retirement in 1989, is being honored for his remarkable service to our nation, its veterans and their families. Terry served at Air Force bases in Texas, Colorado, Washington, Florida, Alaska, North Dakota and Idaho. His overseas assignments included the Philippines, Thailand and Germany. Terry earned a number of awards and recognitions for his distinguished service. His honors include the Air Force Commendation Medal, Vietnam Service Medal with Bronze Service Star and Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross with Palm Device to name a few. He graduated from St. Martin’s College and served the state of Idaho for 23 years as an employee with the Idaho Department of Transportation.
The Idaho State Veterans Cemetery, where Terry has volunteered since 2015 and is greatly valued for his dependability and dedication to bringing comfort to others, nominated Terry for this recognition. When nominating Terry for this award, James A. Earp, Administrator of the Idaho State Veterans Cemetery, wrote, “One of the many strong attributes that Terry demonstrates is his selfless service to continue to give back to the Veterans and their families by being the steward of military professionalism in honoring their lifetime of contributions and service.” He is considered to be an exceptionally dependable and respected volunteer who provides mentorship to peers and shares suggestions with staff to improve the experience of families visiting the cemetery and mourning lost loved ones. His friends and family, including his wife of 50 years, Virginia; his two children, Staci and Kirby; and his four grandchildren are among those influenced by his inspiring dedication. As James A. Earp described, “He has been consistent and unwavering in volunteering his time and knowledge from years of military service and experience.” Thank you, Terry Meiners, for committing so much of yourself to serving America and using that experience to help others. Recognizing Terry Meiners with the 2017 Spirit of Freedom Award is a great honor.
Dallas Popa, Pocatello: The Idaho State Veterans Home—Pocatello nominated Dallas Popa, who served in the U.S. Navy during World War II, for the 2017 Spirit of Freedom Award. Dallas Popa was born in Alexander, Idaho, on January 27, 1925, and joined the military immediately following his graduation from Soda Springs High School in 1943. He served as an electrician on the U.S.S. South Dakota during World War II. In making the nomination for the award, Carrie Leavitt with the Idaho State Veterans Home—Pocatello reflected on his levity, writing that, “He professes that he probably re-wired the whole ship from bottom to top, port to starboard and bow to stern, several times over throughout his adventures and voyages.” Carrie Leavitt also conveyed that Dallas’ battle station was located at the top of the ship in what is known as the “crow’s nest.” There he witnessed “some of the most horrific, yet spectacular sights he had ever witnessed,” and he witnessed the signing of Japan’s unconditional surrender.
In 1946, Dallas was honorably discharged from the Navy. He returned home and entered the Engineering program at Idaho State University before transferring into the university’s Electrical Vocational Training Program. During this time, he met the love of his life, his wife Maxine. They had three children, Vaughn, Kevin and Paula, and Dallas worked as an Operator/Maintenance man and eventually earned the title of Chief Operator. Carrie Leavitt summarized the exceptionalism of this great Idahoan, “When talking with Dallas, one can sense the strong presence of honor and accomplishment. He truly displays a magnificent sense of humor, kindness, and humility. In doing so, he represents a treasure that this country possesses, and is one of so few left . . . that of our ‘Greatest Generation.’” It is an honor to present Dallas Popa with the 2017 Spirit of Freedom Award for his deep and enduring commitment to our nation.
Terry L. Regelin, Boise: The Idaho State Veterans Home—Boise nominated Terry L. Regelin for the 2017 Spirit of Freedom Award. Terry served in the U.S. Marine Corps for four years from 1966 to 1972, serving 2.5 tours in the Vietnam War and continues to dedicate considerable time to serving the veterans’ community in Idaho. He earned many recognitions for his military service. These include the Vietnam Service Medal, Vietnam Gallantry Cross and the Purple Heart. Following his military service, he worked extensively in building, including building houses, automobiles, running heavy equipment, truck driving and landscaping. He built a multi-state trucking business.
Terry has also given to the community. He has been very active in the Boise Valley POW/MIA Corporation for more than a decade, serving as the organization’s Public Relations Representative for three years, participating in POW/MIA Flag Line events for fallen soldiers and assisting with Missing Man Table activities. He has also been heavily involved with assisting with Toys for Tots, works with Charley Company Tank Battalion at Gowen Field and he works with the Ada County Veterans Court as a mentor working with veterans. He volunteers in the craft room at the Idaho State Veterans Home. Terry recognizes his folks with “raising him and his siblings right with love, values, hard work, honesty and belief in God and Country and our fellow man.” Clearly these principles run deep in Terry Regelin. He is a great asset to the community, state and nation, and it is an honor to recognize his immense service with the 2017 Spirit of Freedom Award.
Frank F. Smith, Idaho Falls: Frank F. Smith is being honored with the 2017 Spirit of Freedom Award for his service to our nation and his ongoing service to fellow veterans. The Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA), Idaho State Council nominated him for this recognition. Frank served in the U.S. Air Force from 1964-1968 during the Vietnam War and earned a number of honors, including the National Defense Service Medal, Small Arms Expert Marksmanship Ribbon, Air Force Longevity Service Award Ribbon and Air Force Good Conduct Medal.
Following his military service, Frank has worked in the Information Technology (IT) field. He worked for 16 years as IT Director for the Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center, and he currently is a small business owner/operator providing IT and related computer services in Eastern Idaho and the surrounding area. Frank has also devoted considerable time over the past 14 years to serving fellow veterans. He is a lifetime member of the American Legion and VVA and currently serves as President of VVA-972, Idaho Falls Bob Taylor Memorial Chapter. Frank is a founding member of the Veterans Mobility Corporation and is currently its Vice-President. When nominating Frank for this award, Robert C. Seal, described Frank as, “the primary driving force, 25 months ago, behind the incorporation of the Veterans Mobility Corporation (VMC), a 501 (c)(3) corporation dedicated to providing powered wheelchairs to Veterans or members of their immediate families at no charge. To date, the VMC has rebuilt and distributed over 160 Power Wheelchairs to Veterans, Spouses of Veterans, and Children of Veterans.” Frank has enabled the VMC to expand its reach to more in the veterans’ community. Frank also represents VVA Chapter 972 on the Idaho Falls Military Affairs Committee, assisting with meeting the needs of Eastern Idaho veterans. Frank demonstrates a deep sense of service and is an asset to the community, state and nation. Thank you, Frank, for your devoted service. It is an honor to recognize Frank Smith with the 2017 Spirit of Freedom Award.
Dennis L. Stevens, Boise: The Boise Veterans Affairs Medical Center (VAMC) nominated Dr. Dennis Leroy Stevens to receive the 2017 Spirit of Freedom Award. Dr. Stevens, who served as a Major in the U.S. Army, is Chief of Infectious Diseases at the Boise VA Medical Center, and he also serves as the Boise VAMC’s Associate Chief of Staff for Research. He leads a team of biomedical research scientists and clinician-researchers conducting research relevant to the special needs of the veterans population. When nominating Dr. Stevens for this recognition, Boise VA Medical Center Director David Wood wrote, “The Boise VA and the Treasure Valley are fortunate to have a physician-researcher as accomplished and dedicated as Dr. Stevens here in our community.”
Dr. Stevens grew up on a farm in Fort Benton, Montana, and earned a Ph.D. in Microbiology at the University of Montana before attending medical school and completing his residency at the University of Utah. From 1960-1964, he participated in ROTC, then served as a medical research technician at Dugway Proving Ground in Utah. He served at Tripler Army Medical Center in Hawaii and Fort Lee in Virginia followed by his service as assistant chief of infectious diseases at Brooke Army Medical Center in Texas before completing his military service in 1979. Dr. Steven’s honors for his military service include the U.S. Army Meritorious Service Award. He has also earned many honors for his work on infectious diseases, including the Infectious Disease Society of America’s ‘Society Citation Award’ in 2000, for lifetime achievement in research, medicine and teaching. He also serves on many medical and research boards and committees, teaches Washington, Alaska, Montana and Idaho (WWAMI) medical students and residents at the Boise VA and mentors many junior researchers. He was the founding Executive Director of the Idaho Veterans’ Research and Education Foundation. He and his wife, VA Career Research Scientist Dr. Amy Bryant, live on a farm in Meridian. He has a daughter, Marisa, and five grandchildren. Thank you, Dr. Dennis Stevens for your exemplary work on behalf of veterans. I welcome the opportunity to honor Dr. Stevens with the 2017 Spirit of Freedom Award.
William Robert “Bob” Welch, Lewiston: The Idaho State Veterans Home—Lewiston nominated William Robert Welch Jr. for the 2017 Spirit of Freedom Award. Bob served our nation with distinction during World War II. Bob was born in Lawrenceburg, Tennessee, on June 24, 1926, to William and Grace Welch. He enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1945 and began his service in the 83rd Infantry Division, serving in combat from Omaha Beach to the Elbe River. Terri Brockman of the Idaho State Veterans Home—Lewiston shared the following about Bob’s service, “His extraordinary service earned him Bronze service stars for serving at Normandy, Brittany, Ardennes (Battle of the Bulge), Rhineland and Central Europe. Additionally, he was recognized for his part in capturing 20,000 prisoners in one day in Western France and has received thanks from the French government. When the 83rd Infantry disbanded, Bob was reassigned to the 1st Infantry Division also known as the Big Red One. Bob served proudly in the Berlin Airlift unloading supplies from airplanes as they were brought into Berlin.”
Bob received his honorable discharge in 1950 and worked as a bus driver, truck and trailer driver and firefighter. He served as battalion chief, fire chief and oversaw five firehouses in Rockaway Township, New Jersey, before deciding to travel West to try something new. He stopped in Deary, Idaho, on his way to California and stayed. He has many fond memories of his time working at the Busy Corner in Deary. He then moved to Lewiston, where he worked in maintenance for the Lewiston School District and met his dearest friend, Neva Mathews, who helped care for Bob until he moved to the Veterans Home. Terri Brockman wrote that, “Bob is a venerable man, a man of strong character who is proud of his life, his service and his friends. His positive attitude is catching and if you are willing to listen, Bob always has a story to share and you won’t be disappointed.” I commend Bob Welch for his service and welcome the opportunity to honor him with the 2017 Spirit of Freedom Award.
Roger Wright, Pocatello: Idaho Falls native Roger Wright was nominated for the 2017 Spirit of Freedom Award by the Idaho State Veterans Home—Pocatello. Roger, who joined the Army National Guard in 1966 and served in Vietnam from 1968-1969, continues to serve fellow veterans and others. He received recognitions for his service that include the Purple Heart and Good Conduct Medal. Carrie Leavitt with the Idaho State Veterans Home—Pocatello wrote, “If you’re looking for Roger, you can always find him helping out a local veteran and trying to get them involved in any way he can. He has a great sense of humor that brightens others’ days. Roger is a truly selfless individual who is always looking out for others.”
Roger Wright was born September 9, 1956, in Idaho Falls to parents Ewin and Irene. He grew up on a 30-acre family farm that raised potatoes, wheat, dairy cows and sheep. Roger and his wife, Arlene, have two children, Troy and Collette. Roger’s career has included working in a custom upholstery shop while in high school and working in the mail room at the Idaho National Laboratory after graduation. Roger and Arlene also owned and operated Hampton Coal in Idaho Falls, where he is known for always helping people if they could not afford to purchase coal to stay warm. He later worked as a salesman for Clover Club for five years and worked packing milk and cheese for Western Dairyman for 13 years. In addition, Roger has devoted considerable time to serving others. He is an active member in his community, serving on the Board of Deacons and volunteering for service projects within his church. Carrie Leavitt informs that Roger started a latte bar at the church that has since become a great fellowship tool. Roger Wright, you are a boon to the community and all those who are lucky enough to know you. Thank you for your immense service. Presenting Roger Wright with the 2017 Spirit of Freedom Award is a true honor.
Rudolph E. “Rick” Carnaroli, Pocatello: Bannock County Veterans Services nominated Judge Rick Carnaroli for recognition for his ongoing service to veterans. Judge Carnaroli founded and serves as the presiding Judge over the Sixth District Veterans Court. The court held its first session in April 2012. Melissa J. Hartman, who submitted Judge Carnaroli’s nomination, described his interaction with the inaugural cohort of veterans before the court explaining that he leads with a “firm but caring style, encouraging each of them to become the best ‘them’ they could be.” Further, she writes that, “His natural ability of seeing the good in people make him a perfect fit for Veterans Treatment Court.” His deep commitment to serving veterans is clear in his actions, and as he states, “My service to the Sixth District Veterans Court is one of the most gratifying and satisfying endeavors of my professional career. It is a place where I feel I can, and do, make a difference every day for struggling veterans who deserve my time and attention.”
Judge Carnaroli has served as Sixth District Magistrate Judge for 13 years. He also served 10 years as the Chief Civil Deputy and Risk Manager for the City of Pocatello and previously worked approximately 10 years in private practice. He is described as a vital servant of the community, including the DUI-Drug Court, Mental Health Court, co-founding and current member of the Idaho Pro Bono Committee, Idaho Supreme Court Legislative Review Committee, current and appointed member of the Idaho Supreme Court Advancing Justice Committee, President of the Idaho State Bar Association 2006 and member of the Board of Commissioners of the Idaho State Bar Association 2003-2006. His family, including his wife, Drema, and children, have much to be proud of, as Melissa Hartman highlights, “He is constantly reminding us all who we are serving and why we serve them, encouraging us to find the silver linings in each experience and strive to improve ourselves even when faced with challenges.” Thank you, Judge Carnaroli for your distinguished service to our nation’s veterans and community. I welcome the opportunity to honor him with the 2017 Spirit of Freedom Award.
Glen and Helen Fairbourn, Boise: The Boise Veterans Affairs Medical Center (VAMC), where Glen and Helen Fairbourn were honored as Volunteers of the Month for October 2013, nominated them for the 2017 Spirit of Freedom Award. Boise VA Medical Center Director David Wood wrote, “Their lifestyle is one of giving back, whether it benefit the Veterans in our midst or someone else. They are excellent role models in our community.” Glen has volunteered at the VAMC for 8 years, and Helen has served for 7 years. They enjoy the interaction with veterans from all branches of the military and hearing their experiences. They consider their service to veterans as being a way to show support to veterans for all they have done for us. Glen has continued to serve at the Boise VAMC while Helen serves as Secretary for the Ada County United Veterans Council.
Glen also served our nation in the U.S. Air Force from 1954-1958. Both are retired from their professional careers. Glen retired as a 30-year manager of the Data Processing Department at Ore-Ida Foods. Helen retired from the Boise School District where she served as a school counselor. The two also assisted with facilitating adoptions as volunteers and in leadership positions for an adoption agency. Additionally, they volunteered in the employment center at their church and assisted with prison family history projects and many other community organizations and efforts. Glen and Helen have three children, thirteen grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. Glen and Helen Fairbourn’s volunteer efforts help honor veterans for their service to our nation, and I welcome the opportunity to express gratitude for the service of this husband and wife service team through presenting the Fairbourns with the 2017 Spirit of Freedom Award.
Dareld Hazeltine, Kendrick: U.S. Army Veteran Dareld Hazeltine has been serving his fellow veterans for 40 years. The Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Baker-Lind Post 3913 nominated him for this award. Dareld learned the importance of working together and helping others through working on his family’s farm as he was growing up. Following high school, he joined the Idaho National Guard, and he was deployed to Vietnam when his guard unit was called up in 1968. His honors for his service include the Purple Heart. In 1969 after his return, he became a member of the VFW Post 3913 and later became a lifetime member. Dareld has dedicated his time to serving in VFW leadership, including as state and chapter officer. He also helped revive the post’s poppy program and has assisted with many other efforts, including the choice program, funerals, flag raising and the new VFW suicide awareness program. Dareld was inspired to volunteer serving veterans because he believes that veterans need to work with each other to be able to succeed throughout life.
He also assists in many other service efforts in the community. These include serving as Santa for Kendrick for more than 30 years; serving as an officer and member for the Latah County Fair Board; assisting with the Jr. Miss Program at both local and state levels; and assisting with Search and Rescue for both Latah County and the state of Idaho. Dareld was employed by the local farmers’ co-op for more than 34 years as a warehouseman, and he continues to live at the family farm, helping area farmers. Dareld is considered to be always willing to lend a helping hand and a friendly handshake to all, and he has passed the value of hard work and kindness to all onto his children. He considers his biggest accomplishment to be his family. He and his late wife of more than 35 years, Julie, had two children, Wyatt Todd and Jennifer. He also has two grandsons. Dareld Hazeltine leads through exemplifying a deep commitment to hard work and serving others. His decades of service is commendable, and it is an honor to recognize his dedication with the 2017 Spirit of Freedom Award.
Janet Hrico, Eagle: The Idaho State Veterans Home—Boise nominated Janet Hrico, who has been a regular volunteer at the home’s Canteen for more than five years. Janet is considered to be dependable and reliable, and she says that she enjoys, “the staff, volunteers and of course, the veterans.” In making the nomination, Jo Ann Daron of the Idaho State Veterans Home—Boise wrote about Janet’s heart issues that have inspired her volunteer work with veterans. She underwent cardiac arrest, was put on the heart transplant list, but did not get it. Her sense of being here for a reason inspires her service. She has dedicated more than 1,000 hours volunteering at St. Luke’s Boise Medical Center. After bringing a veteran friend to an appointment, she decided to volunteer at the Veterans Home.
Janet is a Twin Falls native and resided in Buhl and Sweet Home, Oregon, before settling in Boise 50 years ago. Jo Ann Daron wrote that, “Janet is a major asset to our Canteen and our veterans,” and about how she always greets veterans with a smile and inquires about their feelings and shares bits of news, brightening their days. Janet is an asset to the community, and it is an honor to recognize her service with the 2017 Spirit of Freedom Award.
Walter “Walt” Johnson, Chubbuck: The Idaho State Veterans Home—Pocatello nominated Walter Johnson, who was inspired to volunteer assisting fellow veterans because he wants to serve his military brothers. Walter has volunteered in the Canteen at the Veterans Home for the past five years. In making the nomination for the award, Carrie Leavitt, with the Idaho State Veterans Home—Pocatello wrote, “You can always tell when Walt is volunteering in the canteen, he brings his favorite music, and you can hear it down the hallway. His kindness and thoughtful interaction with the veterans is heartwarming.” She further explained, “Walt brings out the best in others and makes them feel important. He is such a great example of an American Hero who services his God, Country, and Fellowmen. It is an honor to know him and have him volunteer at the veteran’s home.”
Walt was born September 15, 1938, and enlisted in the U.S. Air Force after he graduated from high school in Maryland. He served 20 years in the Air Force, 16 years as a supply sergeant and 4 years as a drug and alcohol counselor. He retired from the Air Force as a Master Sergeant. He served three tours in Vietnam, two tours in Okinawa and a one-year tour in the Philippines and Republic of South Korea. Walt earned many honors for his distinguished service. These include the Bronze Star, Meritorious Service Medal, Air Force Commendation Medal, Vietnam Cross of Gallantry Medal and many others. After retiring from the military, Walt worked as a custodial supervisor for 19 years with the Mesa, Arizona School District and then worked as a receptionist in a counseling office. After retiring, he moved to Pocatello to be closer to his daughter and granddaughter. Walt has two daughters, Shannon and Tonya; five grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. He was married twice: first for 11 years; then to his wife of 37 years, Gail, who passed away 6 years ago from cancer. Walt is active in the veterans’ community, as a member of the POW/MIA Association for five years and a member of the American Legion for 45 years. Walt Johnson’s support of our nation and ongoing support of his fellow veterans are commendable. Recognizing him with the 2017 Spirit of Freedom Award is an honor.
Judith “Judy” A. Kane, Lewiston: The Idaho State Veterans Home—Lewiston nominated Judith A. Kane for the 2017 Spirit of Freedom Award. Judy began volunteering at the home shortly after her late husband Dave moved into the home in 2012. She began volunteering at special events, such as Hawaiian days and Veteran’s Olympics, which is one of her particular favorite activities with which to assist. She is active in her church singing ministry group, which visits the Veterans Home monthly to sing for residents, and frequently stops by to visit the staff, residents and families. Judy, who has many family members who have served in the military, shared that she has always had a heart for veterans. Terri Brockman of the Idaho State Veterans Home—Lewiston wrote that when Judy was asked how she can continue to volunteer at the home after her husband’s passing, she said, “because this is family.” Terri Brockman further wrote, “It doesn’t take a person long to realize what is special about Judy. She has a smile for everyone, a kind word for anyone and a story for everything.”
Judy, who was born in St. Paul, Minnesota, on August 28, 1946, lived all over the United States as a Navy wife and mother of two sons, Brian and David. After her first marriage ended, she moved to Wisconsin and attended Gateway College where she studied pre-service nursing. After graduation, she worked for the college for 16 years and also was a nanny for two families. She married her husband Dave Kane in 1983 and their families combined to include five children, 13 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. After retirement, Judy and Dave moved to the Lewis-Clark Valley to be closer to her children. Judy Kane’s volunteer efforts help honor veterans for their service to our nation, and I welcome the opportunity to express gratitude for her giving spirit through presenting her with the 2017 Spirit of Freedom Award.
Sheila A. Kopczynski, Lewiston: Lieutenant Colonel Sheila Kopczynski, a veteran of Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm who has served her fellow veterans in a number of capacities, was nominated by the Marine Corps League. Sheila served 24 years in the military, starting in 1982 serving in the Military Police-Army Reserves while attending school at Eastern Michigan University. She later went on to serve in the Alaska Army National Guard and served in the Guard while working fulltime for the federal government. She earned many honors for her service that include the Meritorious Service Medal, three Army Commendation Medals (one with Valor) and three Army Achievement Medals.
Her career serving in the federal government has included positions with the Federal Aviation Administration; U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Rural Development; USDA’s Forest Service; and more. She has also volunteered extensively, serving fellow veterans and others in the community. She assists with various veterans organizations. She assists the Idaho State Veterans Home with ceremonies and various activities. She also assists local veterans and their family members with developing their resumes and employment efforts and many other veterans’ projects and programs. She has assisted with various other service efforts that include Reading Across America, Employer Support Guard Reserve, the Idaho National Guard Retirees Association, the AmeriCorps/U.S. Department of Labor Job Fair, Helping Hands Pet Rescue—Lewis-Clark Valley and much more. We are truly blessed to count Sheila Kopczynski among Idahoans. She has served the community, state and nation with inspiring commitment, and I welcome the opportunity to honor her with the 2017 Spirit of Freedom Award.
Nancy G. Shamel, Idaho Falls: The Vietnam Veterans of America, Idaho State Council nominated Nancy G. Shamel for the of 2017 Spirit of Freedom Award. She belongs to the Associates of Vietnam Veterans of America, Inc., the Idaho Falls Military Affairs Committee and the Veterans Mobility Corporation (VMC). VMC refurbishes donated wheelchairs for veterans and members of their families at no charge to the veteran. Nancy is considered to be crucial to the operation of VMC. She is involved in many of the donation pickups, cleaning, refurbishing and chair deliveries. Nancy, who has had many family members who have served our nation including her late husband of 47 years who served in the U.S. Marine Corps, has said that, “The best part is delivering them and seeing the personal reactions of the recipients that are regaining their mobility. I especially enjoy listening to the Veterans’ stories.” She also started a support group for family members of the soldiers who were serving in Desert Storm, attended airport “welcome home” activities for more than 200 returning servicemembers, researched names for Idaho’s Vietnam Veterans Memorial and assisted in attaining funds to build the Idaho State Vietnam Veterans Memorial.
Nancy was inspired to serve veterans as a result of her interactions with the veterans she met as a flight attendant during the Vietnam War and her many family members who are veterans. She said that veterans have given her freedom to live the life she has lived for the past 74 years. Nancy is making a lasting difference in the lives of many veterans and their families, and I commend her for her ongoing service. It is an honor to present Nancy Shamel with the 2017 Spirit of Freedom Award.
Steve Spickelmier, Boise: The Idaho State Veterans Cemetery, where Steve Spickelmier has been serving as a volunteer for veterans since 2014, nominated Steve. Steve was inspired to serve after the death of his son, Marine Corps Sergeant Jared Spickelmier. Steve wanted to repay the kindness and professionalism shown by the Idaho State Veterans Cemetery staff and volunteers to other families, through in his words, “being there by helping other families through the loss of their loved ones and some small measure paying respect to those who have served our country.” Steve also organizes the annual Jared Spickelmier Memorial Patriot Tournament to benefit Folds of Honor and dedicates his time to carrying out a number of other volunteer efforts for the veterans’ community. These include volunteering with the Ten Mile Christian Church/Security Team and Scales of Justice Bass Tournament.
When nominating Steve for this award, James A. Earp, Administrator of the Idaho State Veterans Cemetery, wrote, “Mr. Steve Spickelmier is truly an inspirational person and friend to the Idaho State Veterans Cemetery. He displays courage and compassion to care for the families who attend committal services, patriotic events, and those visiting a loved one’s burial site. Always present and ensuring that the dignity and honor of military service and family commitment are not disturbed during these precious moments.” Thank you, Steve Spickelmier, for your service to veterans and their families. You honor their service, and I welcome the opportunity to recognize your exemplary dedication to veterans through presenting you with the 2017 Spirit of Freedom Award.
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