Department of Veterans Services | Veterans Hall of Fame - Class of 2008


Ohio Veterans Hall of Fame

On Friday November 7, 2008 at the Franklin County Veterans Memorial in Columbus, Ohio, Governor Ted Strickland and Bill Hartnett, Director of the Ohio Department of Veterans Services, inducted 20 members of the Class of 2008 into the Hall of Fame. The bronze plaques representing each of the classes inducted are permanently on display at the Vern Riffe Building, 2nd Floor located at 77 South High Street, Columbus, Ohio 43215.
 
Arnold | Baldridge Jr. | Decker Jr. | Eden | Fitzthum | Fleming | Haas | Huffman | Ianni | Johnson
Kennedy | Kruckemeyer | Lanza | Lashutka | Morse | Pace | Pounders | Sustarsic | Willoughby Jr. | Zerger

Fairfield, Butler County
United States Army Veteran
Vietnam War

 
Believing in giving back, Mr. Arnold volunteers at the Cincinnati VA Medical Center and has been instrumental in the design of a Mobile Medical Unit that provides care and services closer to veterans. A lifetime member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post #4369, he serves as a Trustee on their Board. Sam has been a vital member and facilitator of a Military Support Group in Cincinnati that was formed in 2002 to serve the families of deployed service members. Mr. Arnold provides dentistry at little or no charge for the residents of the Joseph House, a half-way house for veterans of the Cincinnati area. He has been a volunteer with the Cincinnati Chapter of the American Red Cross for the past five years and volunteers with The Thank You Foundation. Sam has successfully organized many events throughout the community to raise funds for scholarships for veterans and their families. He is a compassionate person who would do anything for his fellow comrades.

Columbus, Franklin County
United States Navy Veteran

 
For 30 years Mr. Baldridge balanced service to country and community through his leadership in the Naval Reserves coupled with countless leadership positions in state and local government. Mr. Baldridge was the first Director for the Ohio Appalachia Program, Assistant Director for the Ohio Development Department and Executive Director for the Great Lakes Committee for Economic Action. Paul has served in a number of veterans organizations, including the Navy League of the United States where he held positions of National Director, Vice President and State President. He is also a member of the Navy League of the United States Hall of Fame. Paul served in a number of civic organizations including the Boy Scouts of America, where he has served as Scoutmaster and Scout Troop Committee Chairman. His other involvements include the Columbus Rotary Club, American Society of Planning Officials and Columbus Area Chamber of Commerce. For his tremendous contributions to the State of Ohio, he has received a Governor's Award for involvement with Ohio's award-winning Development Program as well as for his significant contributions to the growth of Ohio.


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Marysville, Union County
United States Army, Army National Guard, and Army Reserve Veteran
World War II and Vietnam War

 
Mr. Decker's distinguished career of 40 years of combined military service included two conflicts before he retired at the rank of Major General. In 2003, he organized the Union County Military Family Support Group to not only recognize local service members, but more importantly, to support their families during deployment. He was awarded the Legion of Honor Award from the Chapel of the Four Chaplains and the American Legion Meritorious Service Medal for all his support of veterans. Oscar has been the Chairman of the Marysville Memorial Day Committee and was instrumental in planning the Union County Veterans Monument/Plaza dedicated in May of 2007. He has been actively involved with the United Way of Union County and served on several of their boards and committees. He is a regular speaker at Union County schools, providing first-hand knowledge of World War II and the Vietnam War. In 2006, he was inducted into the Central Ohio Senior Citizens Hall of Fame. In Union County, he is known as the "Veteran's Best Friend" and the "Go-to Guy" for getting tough tasks accomplished.


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Beachwood, Cuyahoga County
United States Army Nurse Corps Veteran
World War II

 
Mrs. Eden distinguished herself not only in the military but also as an educator where she helped thousands of students earn diplomas in practical nursing. She was also the State of Ohio's "top nurse" as a 10-year member of the State of Ohio Board of Nursing, including serving as President for two years. Mrs. Eden is a lifetime member of Gold Star Wives and AMVETS, and the first female member of a previously all-male Jewish War Veterans Post 14, and a 31-year member, officer and one-time State of Ohio President of the Jewish War Veterans Ladies Auxiliary. She was Woman of the Year, Cleveland Area Citizens League for Nursing in 1984. In 1982 she was presented with the Veterans Affairs Commendation given by the Ohio Veterans Commission for helping veterans pursue educational goals. Mrs. Eden has been an active member of her community holding memberships and offices in many diverse civic organizations.


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Sandusky, Erie County
United States Army Veteran
World War II

 
Having held many appointed and elected offices within AMVETS, Mr. Fitzthum was presented with the highest honor bestowed by the Ohio Department of AMVETS – the John L. Smith "AMVET of the Year" Award for his volunteer work for AMVETS Post #17 in Sandusky. In 2006, Mr. Fitzthum received "Volunteer of the Year" from the Ohio Veterans Home for accumulating over 4,800 hours. He has served on the Ohio Veterans Home Volunteer Advisory Committee since 1986 and is currently serving his sixth two-year term as Chairman. Eugene received the President's Volunteer Service Award for his commitment in strengthening our nation and making a difference through volunteer service. At 84 years old, he continues to volunteer weekly for Meals on Wheels, Y Senior Men and St. Mary Parish, as well as for the Ohio Veterans Home - Sandusky. With his military service to his country behind him, he came back to his community and made his avocation serving others.


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Seven Hills, Cuyahoga County
United States Navy Veteran
Operation Desert Shield/Operation Desert Storm

 
Ms. Fleming currently works as a Registered Nurse in the operating room at a level 1 trauma hospital in Cleveland, Ohio. She is the Post Chair of the Women's Veterans Committee. In 2004, she took on a large volunteer project to replace needed personal supplies at an adopted military unit, a female barracks that was bombed in Iraq. Nada was able to increase donation through bargaining with suppliers and donors from various sources within the community and through her co-workers at Metro Health. In December 2005, she once again took up the nurses' unit plight upon hearing that the unit was again in short supply of needed personal hygiene products and was able to involve the community in this noble project. Her effort, along with others within the organization, brought national VFW recognition to the Post as a "National VFW Special Service Award Winner" for the year 2007-2008. Nada supports the organization by joining with other members to bring patriotic programs to the Parma City School system, which has earned the Post the "National Blue Star Civic Award." Nada's many volunteer activities in the medical field contributed to her appointment as "National Outstanding Community Health Care Employee of the Year" in 2005. In 2007, Nada received the "President's Volunteer Service Award" from the President's Council on Service and Civic Participation.


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Massillon, Stark County
United States Army Veteran
Korean War

 
Mr. Haas retired from the Massillon City School System after 33 years of service where he was a teacher and coach for 12 years, a Principal for 17 years, and the Assistant Superintendent for 4 years. Robert has served as the Volunteer Liaison Officer for the United States Military Academy, West Point for the past 29 years. He is one of the founding members and past Chapter President of the Greater Cleveland Chapter of the Korean War Veterans Association #69 and is now serving as the First Vice-President. Robert is a Past Post Commander of AMVETS Post #6, Massillon Ohio and is currently serving as 2nd Vice-Commander. He volunteers at the Reception Center, Western Reserve National Cemetery, Rittman, Ohio. Robert served as a Trustee of the Ohio Society of Military History for the past 22 years where he has held the office of President and is currently serving as Secretary and Chairman of the Scholarship Committee. Mr. Haas is a present member of the Massillon Memorial Day Committee, holding several offices as well as General Chairman for the Parade and Cemetery Ceremony.


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Miamisburg, Montgomery County
United States Army Veteran
Korean War Era

 
Mr. Huffman's compassionate public broadcasting skills have helped to energize veteran advocacy regarding issues and needs. He was inducted into Dayton's Walk of Fame on September 25, 2008. Dale received the Smitty Award from the Dayton chapter of the Public Relations Society of America; The Smitty is the top honor awarded annually to an individual who, through communication effectiveness, has made substantial contribution to the community and to the profession. In 1989, he was the recipient of the Citizen of the Year award in Miamisburg, Ohio. Dale assisted in raising $50,000 to build a park and comfort station along the Great Miami River corridor bike path for bikers, runners and walkers. His newspaper columns, as well as his volunteerism and interactions with all members of the community, have made him one of the community's most valuable citizens. In 1992, Dale was honored by the White House as being "One of a Thousand Points of Light," an award giving to citizens who get involved in their communities and help to make them better places to live.


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Highland Heights, Cuyahoga County
United States Army Veteran
World War II

 
Mr. Ianni was the Founding member of the Medal of Honor John Towle Chapter (Greater Cleveland), 82nd Airborne Division Association. He was the originator of the Chapter's award-winning Airborne News, and served as its first editor. Chuck used every issue to advocate for both veterans and active duty personnel. Mr. Ianni was an active member of the American Legion Post #610, the Association of the United States Army (Newton D. Baker Chapter), and Italian American War Veterans Post #34. To help veterans who sought solace in alcohol, he became an AA sponsor for countless veterans. Many said, "Chuck saved my life." Chuck would modestly reply, "With God's help, they saved their own lives." He supported six JROTC units and two Senior ROTC units in Greater Cleveland at John Carroll University. Beginning with the call-ups of Reservists and Guard Units for the Korean War, he helped organize many "hail and farewell" functions. Everyone knew if you didn't find him at home or work, the next place to try was the Wade Park (now Louis Stokes) Veterans Hospital. For years, he refused all efforts of recognition until a few months before his death in 2003, when he reluctantly agreed to be named Cuyahoga County's "Veterans of the Year for 2002" by the Cuyahoga County Joint Veterans Commission.


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Columbus, Franklin County
United States Air Force Veteran

 
Mr. Johnson retired from both the United States Air Force and AT&T. James organized the first Block Crime Watch program in the city of Columbus in 1981. He organized the Annual Youth Against Crime Rally, which is held at the Driving Park Recreation Center; the Rally celebrated its 25th year in 2006. Mr. Johnson serves as President of Dynamic Leadership, which was formed in 1974. The organization's purpose is to discuss and implement ideas that would be beneficial to ensure equality, freedom, and justice for minorities and women. In 2005, the Herbert "Herb" Holliman Unsung Hero Award was presented to Jim for serving tirelessly and unselfishly to improve the conditions in our communities. In 2006, he was honored with a Kentucky Colonel, which is presented for contributions to the community, state, or nation for special achievements. In 2007, Mr. Johnson was awarded the A.F.C.R.C. Certificate of Recognition for his contribution, support and distinguished service to his community, especially in the area of veterans affairs; he also received the Veterans of Foreign Wars Award for faithfully supporting our veterans and their families.


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Dublin, Franklin County
United States Navy Veteran
Vietnam War

 
Captain Kennedy retired after 27 years of outstanding and honorable service in the United States Navy. Mr. Kennedy has served in a number of veteran organizations such as the Navy League of the United States, where he has held positions including Navy League Council President, Executive Committee Member, National Vice President, National Senior Vice President, National President and Chairman of the Advisory Council for the National Navy League of the United States. Jack is a life member of the Military Officers Association of America and is also a member of the American Legion. He served as Chapter President of Toastmasters International and currently serves as a board member of the Columbus Rotary organization. Subsequent to Captain Kennedy's retirement, he served as a Senior Executive of a Fortune 500 Corporation, a Corporate CEO and a Chairman of the Board. Jack has a tremendous desire to inspire, educate and enhance the lives of everyone with whom he comes into contact.


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Beavercreek, Greene County
United States Army Veteran
Vietnam War Era

 
Mrs. Kruckemeyer serves as the President of the American Veterans Heritage Commission, a non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation of historical buildings at the VA Medical Center. Margaret is active and past National Board Member on the Nurses Organization of Veterans Affairs Foundation. Margaret is a Life Member of the Disabled American Veterans, AMVETS, American Legion and VFW Women's Auxiliary. She is currently serving on the State Board of Trustees of the Ohio Division of the American Cancer Society; her past leadership roles include Board of Trustees Chair and State Chair of Communications and Marketing. She has traveled around the state to speak about the "War on Cancer" and ultimately raised over $135,000 for cancer research. She was also instrumental in sending kids to the American Cancer Society's Camp Friendship free of charge - this generosity has evolved into a camping scholarship support program. She was awarded VISN 10's Heart and Hand award in 1998 and American Cancer Society's St. George Medal of Service in 2005. In 2007, Margaret received the Disabled American Veterans Department of Ohio's "Outstanding Department of Veterans Affairs Veterans Health Administration (VHA) Award."


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Warren, Trumbull County
United States Marine Corps Veteran
World War II

 
Mr. Lanza's service to his country did not stop when he received his discharge papers. Sam joined the DAV in 1948 and has served in every elected position. He is a life member of the Military Order of the Purple Heart, VFW, Marine Corps League, and the American Legion. Mr. Lanza is also a member of the National Association for Uniformed Services and the past President of the National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association. He has taken an active role in Memorial Day parades, has decorated graves for over forty-five years, and has transported veterans to VA hospitals and other medical appointments for the past 27 years. Sam has organized the DAV Christmas party at the Ohio Veterans Home in Sandusky. In 1997, he was appointed to the Trumbull County Veterans Service Commission and was a past State Commander for the Disabled American Veterans. Sam spent the majority of his life advocating for and assisting veterans.


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Columbus, Franklin County
United States Navy Veteran

 
As the former Mayor of the City of Columbus, Mr. Lashutka was selected as Municipal Leader of the Year in 1993 by the American City and County Magazine. He was elected as President of the National League of Cities in 1995 after having served on the Board of Directors as 1st Vice president, and as Chairman of several committees and task forces. In addition, Greg has been honored by the National Council, Boy Scouts of America, as a distinguished Eagle Scout (1996), and by the National Jewish Fund with the Tree of Life Award (1994). He has maintained continuous membership in the Columbus Chapter of the Navy League. Mr. Lashutka has served on the Executive Board of the Boy Scouts of America and the Executive Committee of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Columbus. Greg has provided support, advice and counsel to individual veterans and veterans groups.


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Enon, Clark County
United States Air Force Veteran

 
Mr. Morse began his civic activities through involvement in the Civil Air Patrol in Canton, Ohio where he rose to the rank of Cadet Captain and served as Squadron Cadet Commander. He applied and was accepted into the Air Force Physician Assistant Program and was commissioned in 1992. After retiring from the United States Air Force he went to work at the Dayton VA Medical Center. There he discovered that many of the WWII veterans had never visited the memorial that was built in their honor. In addition to Earl's lifetime of involvement with the Veterans community during his professional career, he remains outstanding among his peers as a result of his development and nurturing of the widely recognized Honor Flight Network. This program raises funds, seeks partners, and collaborates with a number of organizations with a single goal in mind…to provide an opportunity for our Nation's World War II and terminally ill veterans from around the country to experience the National World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C. "Today Honor Flight Network is in 75 hubs, 32 States and has transported over 15,000 veterans from across the United States to the World War II Memorial."


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Gates Mills, Cuyahoga County
United States Air Force Veteran
World War II

 
As General Manager of Thompson Products' (TRW) Troubled Jet Division, he was the key to its survival, and as a Vice President he lead TRW into untested areas important to our national security. As the President and COO of TRW, he was responsible for the development and production of several missile programs and spacecraft-related products during the Cold War. Mr. Pace's support of the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) began in 1958. He was a Cleveland Council Commissioner for five years and served as the Cleveland Council President for three years. For his leadership and outstanding performance, Stan was awarded two of the highest BSA honors: the Silver Beaver and the Silver Antelope. Stan's participation in the United Way of Cleveland started in the 1950s and progressed until he became Chairman of the Annual United Way Fund Drive where he raised a record $44 million. Mr. Pace was a founder of the Greater Cleveland Roundtable. For seven years he was the Chairman of the Cleveland Foundation, an organization established to promote community growth, provide assistance to the disadvantaged, and to sponsor summer camps and provide training for inner city youth.


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Akron, Summit County
United States Marine Corps Veteran

 
After retiring from the United States Marine Corps Ms. Pounders has given her time and energy to helping the veterans of her community. Working part time for a pharmacy, she has gone the extra mile, delivering supplies and medicine to senior citizens and visiting shut-in veterans. Elva is a weekly volunteer at Akron VA clinic and was awarded the 500 Hour Award from Brecksville VA Medical Center at a ceremony in 2006. She currently serves as the Vice Chairperson for the Ohio Department of Veterans Services Advisory Committee on Women Veterans. Elva was the initial charter member of the Women Marine Association OH2 and former Vice President. She is a committee member and active volunteer for the Summit County's Stand Down for homeless veterans. Ms. Pounders is a Life Member of the Marine Corps League, American Legion, North Coast WAVES 21, the Retired Enlisted Association and the Fleet Reserve Association. In 2007, the Summit County Veterans Service Commission awarded her "Summit County Veteran of the Year." Elva is a member of Springfield Local Schools Academic Foundation and currently serves as a Board Member. She is a Booster Club member for local grade schools and donates time to the Toys for Tots program.


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Euclid, Cuyahoga County
United States Army Veteran
World War II

 
As a Councilman, Administrative Director, and the Mayor of Euclid, Mr. Sustarsic had the ability to work with people of different political philosophies. He was a Founder, Past President and Lifetime Member of the Euclid Veterans Club which provides full military honors and funeral details. Tony is a Life Member in veterans organizations including the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post #1056, American Legion Post #343, Disabled American Veterans and Veterans of the Battle of the Bulge. His commitment to community service is evident by his numerous civic involvements and contributions. Mr. Sustarsic is an active member of Knights of Columbus, Chamber of Commerce, Euclid Hospital Association, FOPA #15, Cuyahoga County Mayors and City Managers Associations. He serves as a Trustee for the Euclid Council for the Retarded Child. His reputation for honesty, integrity, and fairness is an inspiration for others.


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Concord Township, Lake County
United States Army Veteran
Vietnam War

 
A highly-decorated veteran of Vietnam War, Mr. Willoughby is the Founder, President, and CEO of Cleveland Track Material, Inc. Located in economically distressed areas of Cleveland, Ohio and Memphis, Tennessee, he provided employment opportunities to many who previously had difficulty finding employment. Bill was instrumental in standing up four new Army Junior ROTC units throughout the Cleveland area. He also helped the Huachucan Veterans Association raise funds to support JROTC activities and was named an honorary member in 2006. Bill participates in the Veterans Issues Committee, Employer Support of Guard and Reserve, and the Wounded Warrior Program to ensure our wounded soldiers do not get left behind. As an active supporter of the United States Military Academy (USMA) Bill continues to serve as the USMA Admissions Coordinator, serving on the Board of Trustees USMA Association of Graduates, and has served as President of the West Point Society of Cleveland. Mr. Willoughby is a member of several military support organizations, including the Military Officers Association of America (MOAA), the Society of the First Infantry Division and the Association of the United States Army. Bill has personally set an example of service to the nation both on the battlefield and in the community.


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Woodsfield, Monroe County
United States Army Veteran
World War II and a Prisoner of War

 
As a public servant leader, Mr. Zerger's life epitomizes impeccable character and radiates the qualities of humility, honesty, generosity and fairness to all he meets. As the successful owner and operator of Zerger's Quarry for over 50 years, he found time to give back to his community. He served 10 years as Special Duty Sheriff in Monroe County and was elected to five consecutive terms as Central Township Trustee. He was one of the founding charter members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post # 5303 where he served as Trustee for 40 years and the 40 & 8 Grand Voiture of Ohio # 363 where he served as Chaplain. Herman is a life member and active participant in Ohio Chapter #1 American Ex-Prisoner of War and a lifelong Trustee of the Disabled American Veterans. Herman authored numerous articles for local newspapers and is a noted speaker on World War II. One of his newest endeavors involves working to bring an Ohio Wilderness Boys Camp for at-risk, emotionally disturbed boys to Monroe County. His optimism and positive outlook is contagious and inspirational to people of all ages.