Class of 2019

Honorees

On Thursday November 7, 2019 in Dublin, Ohio, 20 Ohio Veterans were inducted into the Hall of Fame Class of 2019. 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.
Richard T. Baldwin

Mahoning County
United States Army & Marine Corps Veteran

As a Youngstown Police Officer for 33 years, Richard’s assignments included the Tactical Response Team, which deals with high-risk entries while serving arrest or search warrants, barricaded armed suspects and hostage situations. He also served as a United States Marshal on the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Fugitive Violent Crime Task Force Unit and provided VIP protection detail for President Bill Clinton. As a law enforcement officer, Richard has taken pride in his work displaying professionalism and dedication. He is highly motivated and serves as a role model to younger police officers and high school students. Richard is a Life Member of the Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 35, AMVETS Post 44, Veterans of Foreign War Post 9947, Disabled American Veterans Post 2 and the Ohio National Guard Enlisted Association. For more than 10 years, Richard volunteered with Hospice, Todd’s Children’s Hospital, Area Council on Aging, the American Cancer Society Children’s Summer Camp, Mahoning County Special Olympics International, Meals on Wheels and Chaney High School. Richard has received numerous awards including the State of Ohio Distinguished Law Enforcement Achievement Award in 2009 and 2017, 2014 Officer of the Year presented by the Mahoning County Mental Health Board Crisis Intervention Team and Honorable Mention of the Prestigious “Top Cop” Award by the National Association of Police Organization. His American Police Hall of Fame Awards include the 2016 Distinguished Police Service Award, the Law Enforcement Purple Heart and the Sliver Star for Bravery. The Youngstown Police Department honored Richard with a Medal of Valor, four Life Saving Awards and four Excellent Police Duty Awards. Richard enters the Ohio Veterans Hall of Fame at age 65.
Joseph Benedict Jr.
Joseph E. Benedict Jr.

Cuyahoga County
United States Navy Veteran

After the service, Joe worked for Warwick Communications, selling telecommunications equipment and systems for 37 years. He served as the treasurer and fundraiser of the Lutheran West High School Boosters for 20 years and raised more than $20,000 per year for six years. He has helped facilitate Vietnam 50th Anniversary Commemoration events across Northeast Ohio and regularly serves on the honor guard for funeral services at Ohio Western Reserve National Cemetery. Joe also assists with many causes such as the March of Dimes Marathon and facilitates trips to Put-In-Bay for residents of the Ohio Veterans Home in Sandusky. For 15 years, Joe served as the treasurer of Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 15 and served as the post commander for Pulaski Post 30 of the Polish Legion of America. One of Joe’s greatest accomplishments is his leadership of Honor Flight Cleveland, for which he served as president for the past 10 years. In this role, he has worked tirelessly to secure funding and coordinate seven Honor Flight trips each year, ensuring that nearly 4,000 World War II, Korean, Vietnam, and terminally ill veterans had the opportunity to see their memorials in Washington, D.C. He also worked with VA Northeast Ohio Healthcare System and the local NBC affiliate television station, WKYC, to develop a virtual honor flight for veterans who are unable to make the trip. In 2017, the Joint Veterans Council of Cuyahoga County honored Joe with the Outstanding Veteran of the Year Award for his work with Honor Flight. Joe enters the Ohio Veterans Hall of Fame at age 73.
Jon C. Bennehoof

Delaware County
United States Navy Veteran

Jon served IBM from 1973 to 1990 as a customer engineer, test equipment engineer, and resource analyst. He redesigned the resource planning processes and applications for IBM’s three largest manufacturing facilities. In 1980, Jon co-founded “One Hour Photo, Inc.,” the first real-time photography developing and printing facility in a consumer mall setting in America. From 1990-97, Jon was an information technologist for Goal Systems and served the Ohio Department of Taxation as Deputy CIO. He was recruited back to IBM as Business Transformation Executive. Retiring from IBM in 2009, he went to Cardinal Health then Kunz Leigh & Associates. Elected to Powell City Council in 2012, Jon eventually was elected Vice Mayor in 2016 and Mayor in 2018 in one of the fastest-growing cities in Ohio. He participated in updating the city’s Charter and Comprehensive Plan, and an improved navigation plan titled “Keep Powell Moving.” In 2016, Jon co-founded the Delaware County Veterans Treatment Mission Court which links defendant veterans with therapy and guidance from professionals and veteran mentors. Jon is vice chair of the Mission Court’s Veteran Advisory Committee and has served as the Mentor Coordinator, recruiting and training mentors. Jon also serves on the 12th Congressional District Veterans Advisory Council to Congressman Troy Balderson, advising him on veteran and active military issues and legislation. He also serves on the Ohio Gold Star Families Memorial Committee and the Powell Dementia Friendly Committee. Jon enters the Ohio Veterans Hall of Fame at age 70.
Alvin E. Burzynski

Franklin County
United States Army Veteran

After a life-changing injury abruptly ended his military career, Alvin’s professional and personal journey brought him full circle and defined his mission in life. An accomplished public relations strategist, Alvin has used these talents to advocate for veterans and family members. He is the founder of several initiatives, including Operation Welcome Home Warrior, which creates a support system for returning warriors and their families who may be dealing with invisible wounds of war. Operation Let’s Roll leverages submission grappling with military combatives training and techniques as a means to support seamless transition efforts. Pause to Remember educates the public on the significance of the Missing Man Table. Programs like Charlie Foxtrot Group, Patriotic Spiritwear, and the Noble Eagle Café provide veterans and families with professional upward-mobility opportunities through mentorship and entrepreneurship. Alvin has dedicated more than 20 years as a civil servant with the Department of Defense (DoD), Department of the Army, and Department of Veterans Affairs. His community endeavors include volunteering for the Bexley High School Professional Career and Development Exploration Program, the Franklin County Emergency Response Team, and the Village to Child 219 Project, an after-school mentoring program for at-risk youth. Alvin received the DoD Civilian Community Service Award in 1996 and the DoD Achievement Medal for Civilian Service in 2002 and 2004. In 2006, he received Ohio’s Commendation Medal for developing OHIOcares, a health initiative and military family outreach program. Alvin enters the Ohio Veterans Hall of Fame at age 51.
John M. Dreska

Franklin County
United States Army Veteran

John invests significant time volunteering, with a focus on veteran advocacy and youth education. He has dedicated more than 24 years of service to MILVETS, serving as vice president, trustee, and chairperson of the Columbus Veterans Day parade. He has also helped plan the Annual Armed Forces Day Luncheon, focusing on serving as liaison to guest speakers. John also is a Life Member of the VFW and the Association of the United States Army. For more than 20 years, he has been involved with multiple central Ohio middle and high schools as a guest speaker charged with educating and inspiring today’s youth on the merit of the U.S. military, patriotism, service to the country, and scholarship opportunities. John was selected in 2018 to lead a Team of 90 Acquisition, Supply, and Quality Assurance personnel who manage tires (aircraft and vehicles), batteries (expendable and rechargeable), and engine repair parts for all military services. Previously, he managed a team of 75 military and civilian personnel who supported reset and recapitalization efforts for seven Army and two Marine Corps industrial depots/arsenals with repair parts and was responsible for collaborative demand planning of all land-based weapon systems around the world. John also managed the spare parts for Defense Logistics Agency’s $1.2 billion Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicle program, working with military and civilian leadership at DLA and the Pentagon. In this capacity, he was lead MRAP spare parts planner for the 2009 Presidential Troop Surge in Afghanistan. John enters the Ohio Veterans Hall of Fame at age 49.
Ronald P. Dzikowski

Butler County
United States Navy Veteran

After discharge from the Navy, Ron graduated from Pennsylvania State University with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Electrical Engineering. He advanced in the corporate arena until starting his own business as a Manufacturers’ Representative for 20 years. Since retirement Ron has become a devoted volunteer in multiple communities for both veteran and civic causes. With the American Red Cross, Ron dedicates his time to both the Disaster Action Team and Service to the Armed Forces. He also volunteers for the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) and the Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES). Both organizations assist during emergencies and large crowd events with communications and traffic control. Ron is an advocate for the Blue Water Navy Veteran Benefit legislation that will enable the VA to recognize and compensate Vietnam era sailors exposed to Agent Orange. Ron is a Veteran Watch member with the VA’s Project Hope where he received training to identify the warning signs of at-risk veterans. Ron donates 550 hours annually to the Cincinnati VA Medical Center as an outpatient van driver and event entertainer. Throughout his community service, the VFW has been a primary focal point for Ron’s volunteerism, and as a Life Member, he served four consecutive terms as Commander of Post 7696. Under his leadership, the Post purchased and restored its present headquarters in West Chester. Ron was awarded the All-State Team of Post Commanders for two years. He is a member of The Cooties, an honor society of the VFW and was appointed VAVS deputy representative to the Cincinnati VA. Ron is a Life Member of the VFW National Home for Children where he makes regular trips in support of their activities. Ron enters the Hall of Fame at the age of 74.
Samuel L. Felton Jr.

Lorain County
United States Marine Corps Veteran

Sam has been actively involved in the veteran community for more than 45 years including Life Member of Disabled American Veterans Lorain Chapter 20. He has served as DAV Commander and active Honor Guard member, Delegate to the Lorain Veterans Council, First Marine Division Association, National Association of Black Veterans and is Ohio Chairman of the Advisory Committee of Valor Home, a non-profit organization that provides transitional services for homeless veterans. He is known in the community for his willingness to help local veterans cope with their personal and emotional concerns stemming for their military service. He has guided and urged them to participate in VA programs and medical facilities, going so far as to drive them to their appointments when needed. In addition, he is actively involved in the local community and founded the Sam Felton Athletic Club and Youth Center with the goals of leadership by example and mentorship of young people. He also founded the Jackie Jones Felton Scholarship Fund to assist and encourage high school students to attend college. He is a friendly face in Lorain County Schools whether he is speaking to troubled students or encouraging students to pursue careers in military service. Sam is a recipient of the 2006 Vietnam Service Multiple Medals Award, the Secretary of State’s 2007 Outstanding Veterans Award, the 2010 Lorain Ohio Veteran of the Year and in 2018 the City of Lorain named a street after him recognizing his contributions to our nation as well as to honor his continued accomplishments in this community. Sam enters the Hall of Fame at the age of 70.
Mary E. Hanna

Wood County
United States Air Force Veteran

Following her time in the military, Mary embarked on a stellar career of service to veterans and the community, producing many “first-in-the-state” initiatives. As Executive Director of the Wood County Veterans Assistance Center, Mary was one of the first nationally accredited veterans service officers in Ohio and the first woman in the state named Executive Director. Under her leadership, the Wood County office was first to computerize, offer veterans photo ID cards, and pilot a Tele-Mental Health initiative. As an appointee to the first Governor’s Advisory Committee on Women Veterans, she conducted public hearings across Ohio that revealed many women veterans were uninformed about their veteran status and the benefits they had earned. She advised the Governor’s Office of Veterans Affairs, offering testimony in 1994 before the Ohio Senate and House of Representatives to remove gender-biased language from Ohio veterans’ laws, ensuring change in the Ohio Revised Code. Mary served two terms on the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Ann Arbor Healthcare System Executive Quality Leadership Board. She currently serves on the VA National Task Force for Whole Health, which consults VA healthcare facilities. Mary was Founding Chair and Managing Director of The D.O.V.E. Fund and helped the nonprofit raise more than $600,000 for projects in Quang Tri, Vietnam, including construction of schools, water wells, and medical clinics. She received the Congressional Commendation for her efforts to reconcile the people of Vietnam and the United States. Mary enters the Ohio Veterans Hall of Fame at 69.
Mark Hannan
Mark G. Hannan
(posthumous)

Stark County
United States Army Veteran

He attended the Columbus College of Art and Design both before and after his enlistment. Mark incorporated his artistic talents into his career and his community service. He was a successful businessman and salesman in the auto industry and often served as the art director creating successful ad campaigns. Mark’s involvement with his faith community was a common thread in his life for more than 40 years. He served as a leader in prayer groups, on mission trips and while counseling engaged couples as they prepared for marriage. He served as deacon for 30 years, led a Bible study for 20 years and taught a marriage and family class for 10 years. In 1976, Mark and his wife became certified foster parents; they fostered 37 children from 1976 to 1989. They had two daughters and adopted three foster children. For more than 15 years, Mark served as a volunteer coach for his daughters’ softball team and attended a basketball club. Mark was always involved in his children’s activities; he always made sure that he was supporting them, encouraging them and showing them love. Mark’s exposure to Agent Orange in Vietnam left him with many side effects, but they did not slow him down. One of the side effects was loss of vision and he was declared legally blind in 2000. He continued to find ways to play golf and attended the National Blind Veteran’s Golf Tournament for nine years; he won the tournament his second year. Mark lived his life to the fullest, fought the good fights, and finished the race on December 3, 2017, leaving behind a remarkable legacy.
Richard A. Isbell

Franklin County
United States Air Force Veteran

Rick is a disabled veteran who used the vocational rehabilitation program to attend the Columbus College of Art and Design. He is trained in animation, fine art, illustration and graphics. His claim that art saved his life was highlighted years later in a TedX talk. After finishing school, he worked as a designer and an art director. He then spent six years as a Disabled Veterans Outreach Specialist, helping veterans look, prepare and find gainful employment. He became the Veterans Affairs Coordinator for Mayor Michael B. Coleman. Rick has the distinction of being the first full-time Veterans Affairs Coordinator for a city municipality in the State of Ohio. Under Rick’s leadership, the City of Columbus received the Department of Defense’s Employer Support of Guard and Reserves Freedom Award in Washington, D.C. His veteran program not only protected the jobs and benefits of military employees called to duty, but it also helped managers and supervisors with guidance on what to do before, during and after deployment. Rick works as a Senior Graphic Artist at the Air Force Research Laboratory at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. Further, Rick continues to serve veterans, military and their families in the community. He chairs the committees for the Central Ohio Stand Down and the Fallen 15 non-profit organization, and is a MILVETS trustee. He is a member of the VFW, American Legion, Disabled American Veterans and is the first honorary member of the Military Officers Association of America, Central Ohio Chapter. Rick enters the Ohio Veterans Hall of Fame at age 51.
Howard F. "Bud" May

Greene County
United States Air Force Veteran

Bud takes great satisfaction in his involvement with community service organizations that contribute to and improve the lives of others, especially in terms of leadership and compassion. As a chaplain for 18 years with the Cedarville University Men’s Cross Country Team, he counsels and mentors students, one of whom is now a Green Beret and Professor of Ethics at West Point where Bud was a guest lecturer. He also was a member of the Nurse Advisory Board at Cedarville University during the launch of a Masters of Nursing Program. Bud has served various churches as a board trustee, in financial committee leadership positions, and as a financial counselor to individuals and families. Since 2007, Bud has been on the Foundation Board of Soin Medical Center and Greene Memorial Hospital where his contributions have resulted in successful expansions and growth. When Wright-Patterson Air Force Base Medical Center was undergoing renovations in their surgical unit, Bud orchestrated an agreement that resulted in continuous, convenient and professional patient care. Soin Medical Center’s invitation to WPAFB surgeons to use their facilities created a spirit of cooperation that still exists today. Bud has been a Greene County Veterans Service Commissioner since 2008 and has served as president for the past eight years. He has been instrumental in selecting, advising and mentoring staff members to achieve their highest potential in service to veterans. Two of his most significant accomplishments with Greene County are the creation of an annual resource fair to inform veterans of county resources and the implementation of a Veterans Court, which helps newly released incarcerated veterans with employment and transition. Bud is a member of Disabled American Veterans, AMVETS, American Legion, and the Miami Military Affairs Association. He enters the Ohio Veterans Hall of Fame at the age of 73.
James I. Moorman

Shelby County
United States Air Force Veteran

Jim’s outstanding accomplishments include innovation, leadership and participation through his career and volunteer efforts. After release from active duty, Jim joined the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office and was appointed to the crime prevention unit. He coordinated the efforts of 100 volunteers who became the eyes and ears of law enforcement as part of the SEE Program. Under his leadership as Jail Administrator, the County approved the construction of a 172-bed facility; Jim oversaw the planning, design, staffing and transition. In 1978, Jim received the Law Enforcement Officer of the Year Award from the Law Enforcement Association of Shelby County. Jim dedicated five years and 600 hours with the Dayton VA Hospice’s No Veteran Dies Alone Team. Today, he serves veterans as a volunteer at the Fisher House. With knowledge he gleaned from Shelby County, Jim was instrumental in helping Logan County develop the Vets to DC Program – a three-day bus trip for WWII, Korean and Vietnam Veterans and their caregivers to see their military memorials. Jim served as a member of the Shelby County Veteran Service Commission for six years and today continues to volunteer for the Commission whenever there is need to support a veteran. Jim is a Life Member of the American Legion, AMVETS, Disabled American Veterans, Catholic War Veterans and Vietnam Veterans of America. As Commander of the Sidney American Legion Post 217, Jim collaborated with the local VFW and AMVETS posts to form a consolidated post home for all three organizations. He also spearheaded an outreach program whereby on the fourth Sunday of the month, members leave the Post to visit comrades to check on their health and wellbeing. Jim enters the Hall of Fame at the age of 65.
John T. "Ted" Mosure

Franklin County
United States Navy Veteran

Ted’s distinctive leadership and involvement with veteran, community, school, and government agencies is truly noteworthy. He has been an active member of Catholic War Veterans (CWV) Post 1936 for more than 15 years, acting as an officer for most of that span. He represents CWV on Columbus’ Military Advisory Council and the Ohio Department of Veterans Services Advisory Committee. He chairs the CWV’s efforts with local parades, ensuring veterans have access to participate. Since 2006, Ted has worked with the American Legion to decorate graves with American flags on Memorial Day Weekend, joining local Boy Scouts, Cub Scouts and American Heritage Girls to post more than 1,000 flags annually. Ted is a founding board member of the Ohio Military Hall of Fame for Valor and current President of the Board of Directors, responsible for fundraising, ceremony event planning, and public relations. He is a member of the Underwater Demolition Teams/SEAL Association and the Navy Seal Museum, and holds life memberships in Special Forces Association Chapter 45 and AMVETS Post 89. He serves as a fundraiser, veteran advisor, and musician for St. Matthias Church. Ted served as event planner and volunteer coach for his kids’ soccer and wrestling teams, and as president of the DeSales High School Athletic Association. His service to the Vietnam Veterans of America Columbus Chapter 16 included stints as president, speaker at events, and media contributor. During his career in the grocery industry, he served as president of the Columbus Manufacturers Representative Association. Ted enters the Ohio Veterans Hall of Fame at age 70.
Katherine T. Platoni

Greene County
United States Army Veteran

Known as Dr. Platoni to her patients and in the medical community, Kathy has been a practicing clinical psychologist for more than 37 years and maintains her private practice in Centerville. Her clinical skills and voluminous professional writings on the treatment of PTSD, her passion for helping wounded soldiers and veterans in their recovery process, and her assistance to first responders dealing with trauma is exemplary. As a survivor of the Ft. Hood Massacre in November 2009, she is an ardent activist for reconsideration of this shooting incident as an act of terrorism to assure that victims and their families are awarded benefits. She was instrumental in the awarding of the Purple Heart to the Fort Hood wounded and to the families of those who lost their lives. When police and military personnel need direction of managing the aftermath of mass casualties and trauma, they turn to Dr. Platoni for her expertise. She serves on Dayton SWAT as their psychologist and as a consultant to the Dayton Hostage Negotiation Team. Kathy has an extensive history of serving veterans, speaks publicly on veteran issues, and is co-author of two landmark books on the subject of war trauma, “Expanding the Circle of Healing: Trauma in Its Wake” and “Healing War Trauma: a Handbook of Creative Approaches.” She serves as editor of the nationally regarded online Combat Stress E-Magazine and publishes regularly about subject matter pertaining to wartime service, the Fort Hood Massacre, surviving PTSD, and the moral injury of war. Kathy enters the Ohio Veterans Hall of Fame at age 67.
Michael J. Pohorilla

Franklin County
United States Army Veteran

Michael has devoted his 75 post-military years toward helping to improve the lives of veterans, civilians and our nation. For more than 66 years, his research, development, and marketing of the first 10W-30 multi-grade oil has been used to revolutionize the oil industry in the United States and abroad. His chemical research and co-authoring of seven patents on lubricants, polymers and specialty chemicals resulted in the creation of an all-weather oil. As a pioneer of multi-grade oil, Michael served as an organizational ambassador for the United States and coordinated worldwide marketing of chemicals to the petroleum industry for fuels and lubricants, sharing his findings during travels to Japan, Australia, Africa, Canada, South America, Mexico, and Europe. He was responsible for marketing $50 million in annual sales. His volunteer commitment is just as impressive. He is a Life Member of VFW Post 10523; taught Sunday school for 12 years at the Episcopal Church of the Ascension; and served as a speaker to schools, service groups and veteran organizations describing the 8th Air Force combat effort in European Theater of Operations. Today, Michael is and member of the Motts Military Museum Board of Directors and serves as a volunteer tour guide and greeter. The Pohorilla Photo Journalism Award, in recognition of his management of a black-and-white photography program, honors high school students for their skills with a patriotic theme worthy of newspaper or magazine publication. Michael enters the Ohio Veterans Hall of Fame at age 95.
J. Lori Stone

Mahoning County
United States Air Force Veteran

Lori began volunteering at the Youngstown VA Community Based Outpatient Clinic (CBOC) in 2007. She was appointed AMVETS representative for the Youngstown VA in 2010 and in 2013 was appointed volunteer liaison for the Youngstown VA by the Chief of Voluntary Services for Northeast Ohio VA Healthcare System. In this role, Lori developed procedures to assure accountability for the coffee cart and food pantry. Currently she oversees 130 volunteers. She developed the food pantry for the CBOC, which now distributes more than 6,200 food bags each year. Knowing the CBOC needed a new van to transport veterans from the Youngstown VA to the Cleveland VA, she spearheaded a fundraising drive in May 2017 that raised $40,000. Thanks to the military organizations in the Tri-County Area and a grant she wrote, a passenger van was purchased in September 2017. Lori is an Austintown Lioness, and is a Life Member of the Air Force Association (AFA) Chapter 371 and AMVETS Post 112. She received the AFA Medal of Merit Award and the Melvin Jones Fellowship Award from the Lions. Lori also was selected 2018 Veteran of the Year by The United Veterans Council of Youngstown and Its Environs. In May 2019, she received the VA’s Superior Service Award for dedicating more than 17,500 volunteer hours to the VA from August 2007 to September 2018. Lori enters the Ohio Veterans Hall of Fame at age 73.
Bertalan L. Szabo

Summit County
United States Army Veteran

Bert left Ohio University to serve in World War II. After discharge from the Army, he returned and graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture in 1947 and a Master of Science in Botany-Plant Pathology, magna cum laude, in 1948. After several agriculture-related jobs, he began working with the Summit County Metro Parks. In 1963, Bert was appointed the park district’s first full-time naturalist – a position he held until his retirement in 1991. He was instrumental in launching new programs and he designed the new nature center. Bert continues to be an enthusiastic proponent for conservation. Since his retirement, he has donated more than 7,000 volunteer hours to the Metro Parks. Bert has been active in the National Audubon Society for half a century and served as official compiler for the Greater Akron Audubon Chapter’s Christmas Bird Count from 1970-1992. For a decade, he volunteered on Lake Erie’s shore with Crane Creek State Park’s monthly bird census. In the early 1970s, he was an advocate for the establishment of the Cuyahoga Valley National Recreation Area, which has grown to 33,000 acres and received national park status in 2000. The National Association for Interpretation (NAI) awarded Bert the following: 1972 Fellow, 2003 Senior/Retired Interpreter, 2014 Outstanding Interpretive Volunteer, and 2018 NAI President’s Award. He received the Ohio Biological Survey's Naturalist Award in 2004. In 2007, he was inducted in the Ohio Natural Resources Hall of Fame and in 2018 he was inducted into Ohio’s Senior Citizens Hall of Fame. Bert enters the Ohio Veterans Hall of Fame at age 98.
Donald L. Tedrick

Guernsey County
United States Army Veteran

Upon his discharge from the military in 1945, Don returned home and worked on the family farm. In 1953, he took and passed a postal service exam and began his 42-year career with the U.S. Postal Service. Prior to his retirement, the National Safety Council recognized Don as a Million Mile Club Member. In his 71 years as a member of the Antrim America Legion and the Guernsey County Veterans Council, Don honored his brothers- and sisters-in-arms at more than 6,400 services with military funeral honors. Don also has mentored, recruited and trained dozens of younger honor guard members over the decades. In 1953, Don completed training for the Ohio Highway Patrol Auxiliary, where he served as a volunteer for more than 40 years until he reached the mandatory retirement age of 70. He averaged 10 volunteer hours a week during his 40 years of service, which equates to more than 20,000 volunteer hours. Don has participated in hundreds of parades and ceremonies in Guernsey County and he regularly participates in school, church and community programs where he shares his military service history and love of country. He also supports local high school sporting events including football, basketball, softball, volleyball and baseball. Don is a Life Member of the United Methodist Church and still enjoys potluck meals with his church family. As a Life Member of the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars, Don participates in many fundraisers, humanitarian projects, scholarship programs and special events. Don enters the Ohio Veterans Hall of Fame at age 96.
James W. Watercutter

Licking County
United States Marine Corps Veteran

Jim began his 38-year federal civil service career in 1963 with the Department of Defense at the United States Air Force Aerospace Guidance and Metrology Center in Newark. He started as an electronic technician and ended his career as a member of the source selection team for the Air Force Measurement Standards Calibration and Calibrations Procedure. Some of Jim’s most notable awards include the Licking County Marine Corps League Detachment 602 Marine of the Year, the Licking County Veteran of the Year presented by the Licking County Veterans Service Commission, the Park National Bank Heath Community Difference Maker Award, the Marine Corps League Distinguished Citizen Award, and the Heath High School Student Council Veteran of the Year. Jim’s public service career began in 1980 when he became a member of the Heath City School Board. In 1994, he was elected to Heath City Council and served as chairman of the Service Committee, Safety Committee and Parks Committee. He served on the Charter Review Board twice. He was a member of the county’s Retention and Expansion Task Force, Transit Board, and Emergence Planning Committee. His community volunteer efforts include the Davis Shai House Community Center and the Celebrate Heath Committee. As a 57-year-member of St. Leonard Catholic Church, Jim helped organize and served on the Parish Council, taught religion classes, was music director, and has been active in events including Bible studies, church services, and dinners. He also is a member of the St. Leonard Knights of Columbus. Jim enters the Ohio Veterans Hall of Fame at age 80.
Merle F. Wilberding

Montgomery County
United States Army Veteran

After Merle’s discharge, he joined the Coolidge Wall law firm in Dayton where he continues to practice. With the support of many members of Congress, Merle used his past military experiences to represent the family of Marine LCpl Maria Lauterbach in successfully pushing for changes in the Uniform Code of Military Justice to better protect victims of sexual assault. Merle works with the Law & Leadership Institute, which supports programs that promote diversity in law and leadership. He was a founding trustee of the Dayton Literary Peace Prize Foundation, which recognizes the power of the written word to promote world peace. He has authored seven books, including two children’s books funded by grants to provide supplemental materials for civics education to disadvantaged students. He is a Distinguished Life Fellow in the American Bar Foundation, in the Ohio State Bar Foundation, and in the Dayton Bar Foundation. His community service has earned him many awards, including the Ramey Award for Distinguished Community Service from the Ohio State Bar Foundation, the Lloyd O’Hara Public Interest Law Award for Community Service, the Distinguished Alumnus of the Year Award by St. Mary’s University (Minnesota), and the Muse Machine Honoree Award. He is President-Elect of the Dayton Bar Association. Merle has five degrees: B.A. from St. Mary’s University (Minnesota); J.D. from the University of Notre Dame; LL.M. (Tax) from George Washington University; M.B.A. from the University of Dayton; and M.L.I.S. from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, with additional study at the University of Oxford in England. Merle enters the Ohio Veterans Hall of Fame at age 75.