The following biographies for each of the recipients highlight their significant contributions to our country.
Veteran Robert A. Wayment: Mr. Waymant was part of the 66th Military Police Command and served his country with honor and gratitude. His service in Vietnam taught him how truly fragile life is and that we should live out our days with importance. Mr. Wayment has volunteered on many community boards and councils over the years, including being a member of the VFW since 1990. Robert is proud of his military family lineage with his father and uncles all serving in the U.S. Army as well as his son and grandson.
Retired Navy Officer Zach Tudor: Mr. Tudor first enlisted in 1976, before commissioning as a submarine Limited Duty Officer. Before retiring, Tudor traveled all over the world. On the USS Boston’s sea trials, he got to meet Admiral Rickover. Mr. Tudor received many awards during his time in the Navy. I’ve had the opportunity to spend some time with Zach, who now serves as an Associate Laboratory Director at the Idaho National Laboratory, and commend him for his continued service to our nation. Zach recently received another prestigious award, the Career Achievement in Government Award. A well deserved recognition for exceptional leaders.
The Idaho National Guard: The violent, despicable acts of January 6, 2021, shook our nation to its core. In the aftermath, more than 25,000 National Guardsmen and women from around the country were stationed in Washington, D.C., in the days and weeks surrounding the 59th Presidential Inauguration to ensure a peaceful transition of power. More than 300 members of the Idaho National Guard volunteered within a day’s notice to serve this mission and traveled to D.C. in less than 72 hours from Governor Brad Little’s approval of their mission. The Soldiers and Airmen worked 12- to 20-hour shifts, often taking breaks throughout the Capitol complex. They stepped up to represent the very best of Idaho, and their commitment to protecting lives and preserving peace during this challenging time was overwhelming.
Sergeant Robert Sanchez: SGT Sanchez is an active service member serving with the sixth recruiting brigade, stationed in Pocatello, Idaho. Robert recruits qualified personnel for entry into the Army in accordance with applicable regulations, supervises recruiting and conducts recruiting support activities. SGT Sanchez became a recruiter to impact lives.
Veteran Milo Winfield Plank, Jr.: Corporal Plank served in the United States Marine Corps during the Vietnam War as a member of operation Starlite, which was the first major battle of the war. In a detailed recounting of his service, Cpl. Plank shared about the active fire fights, American forces seizing weapons from the opposing forces, and credits a periscope on the tank he drove for saving his life during combat. As the driver of an A32 vehicle, Cpl. Plank recounted the moment: “In my right periscope there was an opening in the brush and I could see a VC trench about five feet away pointing a rifle toward the top of the turret,” Cpl. Plank writes. “As I raised up to fire my pistol the VC swung his rifle towards me. . .I thought I had been shot. I put my hand on the wound, and didn’t find a hole so I knew it wasn’t my time to go.” He shared many details with Senator Crapo about his experiences during the battle, and closed with a description about trying to safely fetch water after a firefight, “As daylight approached all was quiet and people began to stir. The remaining Marines came out of their vehicles and set up a defensive perimeter. Then on August 19th at about 1000 the rescue force arrived.”
Veteran Charles “Charlie” Titus Till: Retired Fire Controlman Third Class and active Disabled American Veterans Field Marshal Charlie Till served in the U.S. Navy from 1965-1971, where he was assigned to three first line guided missile destroyers during the height of the Cold War. After his service with the Navy, Mr. Till became an invaluable member of the Disabled American Veterans (DAV), of which he has been a member of for the past 29 years. Mr. Till’s decades of service with the DAV has earned him the title of Field Marshal, and he’s the only person to ever serve in this unique position in the organization’s long and storied history. Field Marshal Till has been an instrumental force in representing veterans and supporting their needs through various projects such as the annual DAV Ft. Sherman Chapter 9 Christmas Project, which on average supports about 100 children from over 30 families of veterans in distress each year. Residing in Post Falls, he is a stalwart example of a veteran who has gone above and beyond the call of duty in his steadfast commitment to supporting his brothers and sisters in uniform.
Retired Veteran Justin Nielsen: Army Veteran Justin Nielsen, of Idaho Falls, served in the U.S. Army and in the Idaho National Guard. Serving as a Forward Observer for the artillery, known as a 13FOX, Nielsen spent time in various places across the globe, including Iraq, South Korea and Kuwait. In South Korea, he served as part of a fast response team called Strikers, who were responsible for going out beyond enemy lines to find targets for artillery. During his time in service, he successfully completed the Air Assault School--a grueling, rigorous special course that Ft. Drum, NY, brought over to Korea and which includes three phases of instruction involving rotary wing aircraft--air assault operations, rigging and sling load operations and rappelling from a helicopter. To this day, Nielsen says earning the Air Assault wings was one of the hardest, most rewarding tasks he has ever participated in.
Retired Veteran Travis Candler: Retired U.S. Army veteran Travis Candler served from 2001 to 2014. During his service, Candler’s Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) code was 68 Whiskey, which is used for Army Combat Medics. He served as a front-line infantry combat medic, emergency services director for Garfield County Fire and Hospital District, and Noncommissioned Officer in Charge (NCOIC) of Charlie Medical Detachment 1 for the Idaho National Guard based out of the Lewiston National Guard Armory. He was medically retired in 2014 due to combat related injuries. Following his service, Candler returned home to Idaho and started his own cleaning business. The business was inspired by his generous work to assist Helen Wong, a Lewiston resident, whose home was trashed by squatters that took advantage of Wong’s absence while stuck abroad in China due to COVID-19 travel restrictions. Candler joined a group of charitable volunteers, including his fiancé and son, to help clean Wong’s house and help her get back to normal.
Retired Veteran Bill Klobas: Marine veteran Lance Corporal (LCpl) Bill Klobas served in the United States Marine Corps in 1968 and 1969 with India Company 3rd Battalion, 7th Marines. During his service, LCpl Klobas was injured by ‘friendly fire’ due to a miscommunication for artillery support while coming under enemy attack as his platoon came out of the jungle from Operation Oklahoma Hills in the Quang Nam Province of Vietnam. A 155-artillery round landed right on LCpl Klobas, throwing him into the air and causing significant and serious injuries. He was immediately medevaced and treated for a ‘full body concussion’ and traumatic brain injury (TBI). During this time period, TBIs were not considered an official medical diagnosis in the military. Regardless, the TBI LCpl Klobas sustained during duty was an injury that impacted his life for years afterward. Despite his injuries and meeting the criteria for the Purple Heart, LCpl Klobas did not immediately receive the prestigious award. Until September 1, 2001, TBIs were not recognized for consideration of a Purple Heart. Thanks to the tireless efforts of LCpl Bill Klobas’ daughter, Casey Byington, and the contributions of many others, including members of the Company 3rd Batallion, LCpl Klobas was formally pinned with his Purple Heart medal in Pocatello, Idaho, on June 18, 2021, 52 years after his injury sustained in Vietnam.
Army Veteran Michael S. Wells: Army Combat Engineer Michael S. Wells served two combat tours in Iraq totaling 27 months, where he conducted everything from route clearance to breaching. He was deployed to Baqubah, Iraq, and Sadr City near Baghdad. He has conducted over 2,000 combat missions and raids on Al-Qaeda, looking for various high value targets. Wells is a decorated veteran; he has received a Purple Heart and has earned the Bronze Star for his actions in combat, two Army commendation medals, a Presidential Unit Citation and the Army Good Conduct Medal. After his service with the Army, Mr. Wells attended the University of Idaho Law School. With his education, he has helped many veterans of all wars finally earn their compensation benefits.
Marine Noelan “Mac” P. McCormack: Veteran Noelan “Mac” P. McCormack served in the United States Marine Corps from 1953-1961. During his service, he was attached to Marine Corps Test Unit 1, an experimental testing unit for the development of tactics, equipment, and techniques for the nuclear battlefield and was exposed to radiation from nuclear weapons testing. Following his time in the military, Mac continued to serve his community through his involvement in law enforcement. Mac has long served as an Air Force Auxiliary: Mission Search Pilot, has volunteered with the Civil Air Patrol, Young Marines and the USMC Toys for Tots program. During his time as a pilot, he logged over 1000 hours and was awarded a 1000 Hour Wing with a Star. He has also been a Marine Corp League member for over 25 years and has been a long serving member of the Kootenai County Veterans Council.
Air Force Captain Andrew "AJ" Church is a Twin Falls, Idaho, native currently serving on Active Duty as an Air Battle Manager. After completing Officer Training School in 2014, Captain Church attended Undergraduate Air Battle Manager Training and was later assigned to fly on the NATO E-3A Airborne Warning & Control System (AWACS) stationed at Geilenkirchen Air Base, Germany. In Germany, he had the opportunity to work with 17 NATO nations strengthening military interoperability and training while providing airborne early warning, command and control capabilities. Following his assignment there, he was assigned to his current unit, a Control and Reporting Center, where he deployed in support of contingency operations throughout the U.S. Central Command's area of responsibility.
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