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Our Heroes

Our Heroes

The Royals and Budweiser salute a member of the military at games throughout the 2015 season.

Active duty and retired members of the United States Armed Forces are provided with complimentary tickets in the Budweiser seats on the first base side and recognized with a special in-game tribute.

2015 Honorees:

Monday, April 6 - Bernadine Stanley

Yeoman Second Class Petty Officer Bernadine Stanley enlisted in the United States Navy in 1943 and spent three years serving as part of the Navy Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service group. During her time, she served on the Admiral's Staff at the Naval Reserve Training Command Naval Air Station in Illinois with then-Lieutenant and future President Gerald Ford.

Following her service, she returned home to Kansas City where she and her husband raised ten children.

Wednesday, April 8 - Leigh Bellinger

Master Sergeant Leigh Bellinger has served twenty years in the United States Air Force. Beginning his career with the American Forces Network in South Korea, he has worked as a radio and television broadcaster, traveling all over the world telling stories of men and women in the United States military.

Deployed to Iraq, Afghanistan, Bosnia, and Kosovo, the decorated Master Sergeant is now serving as the superintendent of the McConnell Air Force Base public affairs office.

Friday, April 17 - Robert Bennett

Lieutenant Colonel Robert Bennett began his military career at West Point and has since served 24 years in the United States Army. Throughout his service, he has done a variety of tasks all over the world including, three tours in Iraq, planning and executing various military strategies and missile strikes, and served as the Chief of Operations of the Army in Africa.

Recently, Lieutenant Colonel Bennett moved back to Kansas City and is now an instructor at the US Army Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth.

Saturday, April 18 - Brad Burkhart

Sergeant First Class Brad Burkhart joined the United States Army in 1995 as an Indirect Fireman and served two deployments in Kuwait with the 1st Calvary Division. Later, as a combat engineer, he served as a Platoon Sergeant for a Route Clearance and Counter IED platoon in Afghanistan.

The recipient of the Bronze Star and Purple Heart, Sergeant First Class Burkhart medically retired after injuries sustained in an I-E-D blast while in Afghanistan.

Sunday, April 19 - John Thompson

Captain John Thompson served in the U.S. Army Air Corps as a B-17 Navigator during World War 2 and was assigned to the 94th Heavy Bomb Group, 8th Air Force in England. In April, 1944 his B-17 Flying Fortress crew was shot down over Berlin and he was taken as a prisoner of war and held at four camps. Over a year later, General Patton's third Army liberated John and his camp.

Monday, April 20 - Zachary Jacobs

Specialist Zachary Jacobs has served in the United States Army Reserve for six years. Deployed twice, he served as a Motor Transport Operator, driving over 30,000 miles throughout Iraq and later a Horizontal Constructions Engineer in charge of the deconstruction of military bases in Afghanistan.

Recently, the Army Commendation Medal recipient re-enlisted for six more years in the Reserve.

Tuesday, April 21 - Chris Stergos

Sergeant Chris Stergos served in the United States Marines for five years and specialized as an Intelligence Specialist and Small Arms Range Instructor. Deployed three times, Sergeant Stergos served with the 2nd Intelligence Battalion twice in Iraq, and as a part of a Joint Task Force on a counter-terrorism mission in the Horn of Africa.

The decorated veteran left the military in 2005 and is now very active with local military groups including the VFW Post 7397 and Team Red, White, and Blue.

Wednesday, April 22 - Jason Sigler

Major Jason Sigler graduated from West Point in 2001 and was commissioned in the Armor Branch. Deployed three times, he served as a tank platoon leader in Iraq in 2003, a Force Generation Planner in 2004, and while in Afghanistan in 2010, took command of Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, 1-38 Cavalry Regiment.

The recipient of many awards including the Bronze Star with "V" device and Bronze Star with One Oak Leaf Cluster, he now attends the Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth.

Thursday, April 30 - Robert Davis

Chief Warrant Officer 2 Robert Davis enlisted in the United States Army as a Construction Equipment Repairer in June 1999 and was commissioned as an officer in 2008. Throughout his service he has been stationed all over the United States and has been deployed three times to Afghanistan and once to Iraq where he was in charge of a convoy security team that would run security for convoys throughout Iraq.

The highly decorated soldier and his family recently moved back home to Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri.

Friday, May 1 - Marciano Galarza

Chief Warrant Officer 3 Marciano Galarza has served in the United States Army for 20 years. A logistical officer for the 1st Sustainment Brigade out of Fort Riley, Kansas, he has deployed six total times with individual deployments to Kosovo, Kuwait, Afghanistan, and three to Iraq.

Highly decorated, Chief Warrant Officer Galarza has received many awards including the Bronze Star and Meritorious Service Medal.

Saturday, May 2 - William Barber

Sergeant William Barber has served in the Missouri Army National Guard for eight years. Specializing as a Motor Transport Operator and Petroleum Supply Specialist, Sergeant Barber has been deployed twice, once to Kosovo and most recently to Afghanistan.

The decorated veteran is currently serving as an RSP Coordinator for the Missouri Army National Guard Recruit Sustainment Program.

Sunday, May 3 - Darius and Dana Ervin

Major Darius Ervin has served in the Army for sixteen years in military intelligence. Deployed twice, he is the recipient of the Bronze Star. His wife, Captain Dana Ervin also served in the Army for six years and deployed once in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

They are here today with their daughter and girl scout, Olivia.

Tuesday, May 5 - Ben Brock

Captain Ben Brock served in the United States Army for five years and specialized in logistics. Deployed twice to Afghanistan, he served as a Transportation Platoon Leader on convoy logistics patrols and led a High Risk Personnel Security Team for their brigade.

For his service, Captain Brock received the Bronze Star Medal, Meritorious Service Medal, and Army Commendation Medal.

Wednesday, May 6 - Cale Swarnes

Sergeant Cale Swarnes served as an Infantryman for the 101st Airborne Division for eight years. Deployed to Iraq multiple times, he served as a Humvee driver, .50 cal gunner, and truck commander on over 750 combat missions. The recipient of two Purple Hearts for wounds received in combat, he is now medically retired and attending school to become an elementary teacher.

Thursday, May 7 - Oscar Filipot

Staff Sergeant Oscar Fillpot served twenty-five years in the United States Army and National Guard and specialized in Mechanized Field Artillery. Throughout his service, he deployed once and served three years in military intelligence.

Honorably discharged, Staff Sergeant Fillpot received numerous awards including Meritorious Service Award and Desert Storm Service.

Friday, May 15 - Amber Kash

First Sergeant Amber Kash served in the United States Marines Corp for twenty years in a variety of positions all over the world. Deployed twice in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, First Sergeant Kash served as the Casualty Officer overseeing all Marines who were killed in action and ensured their personal belongings returned safely to their families.

Before retiring in 2012, the decorated veteran served in New York City where she conducted over 650 funerals for active duty Marines who were killed in action in Iraq and Afghanistan and honorably discharged veterans.

Saturday, May 16 - Galen Cook

Sergeant Galen Cook served in the United States Army as a rifleman with the Sunset Infantry Division in the Pacific Theatre. The recipient of the SharpShooter Medal and Bronze Star, he participated in the re-taking of the Philippine Islands, the initial landing in New Guinea, and was a Military Policeman with the United States Army Occupation Force.

Following the war, Sergeant Cook married his wife of sixty-four years and raised their family on their cattle farm.

Sunday, May 17 - Chris Steger

Master Sergeant Chris Steger entered the United States Air Force in 1990 and served as a Fuels Airman. Deployed many times in support of various operations, he was under constant threat of rocket and mortar attacks while serving at Balad Air Base in Iraq, where he directed the delivery of 15 millin gallons of aviation fule to over 12,000 sorties.

In October of 2014, the highly decorated veteran retired as the Fuels Operations Superintendant at Whiteman Air Force Base.

Tuesday, May 19 - Samuel White

Colonel Samuel White III has served in the United States Air Force for twenty-three years as a bomber pilot. Commissioned through the United States Air Force in 1992, he participated in the first combat deployment of the B-2 Stealth as a member of the 393rd Expeditionary Bomb Squadron for Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Previously deployed in support of the Continuous Bomber Presense Mission, the decorated Colonel will go to Guam to serve as their Operations Group Commander.

Wednesday, May 20 - Nanci Higginbotham

Major Nanci Higginbotham joined the US Army Corp of Engineers in 1979 and served in construction, combat support, and training assignments in Germany during the end of the Cold War. During the second half of her career, she served as a program and project manager in military construction, civil works, and environmental restoration programs in Philadelphia and Kansas City. Major Higginbotham retired in 1996, but currently works as a civilian project manager in the Army Corps of Engineers Kansas City District in the Environmental Restoration program.

Friday, May 22 - Nathan Buss

Petty Officer Second Class Nathan Buss served in the United States Navy from 2003-2007 as a Gunner's Mate. While on board the USS Shreveport, Petty Officer Buss was responsible for maintaining the ship's crew served weapons, conducted small arms training, and was a member of the "Vessel Boarding Search and Seizure Team" which chased pirates off the coast of Somalia. The decorated veteran and leukemia survivor also took part in the Hurricane Katrina Disaster Relief Effort in which he earned the Humanitarian Service Medal.

Saturday, May 23 - Dustin Wells

Sergeant First Class Dustin Wells served sixteen years in the United States Army and Missouri Army National Guard. Deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, he was an infantryman and was responsible for combat and presence patrol while also training the Iraqi Army. Later deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, Sergeant First Class Wells was a Brigade Lethal Fire support NCO. Currently, the Bronze Star recipient is a recruiting and retention NCO for the Missouri Army National Guard.

Sunday, May 24 - Loren Bonneau

Staff Sergeant Loren Bonneau served in the US Air Corps during World War 2, from 1944 to 1946. As a radio operator mechanic on B-29s, Staff Sergeant Bonneau and his crew were stationed on the Tinian and Mariana Islands and flew missions over Japan. Following the war, the decorated veteran became a teacher, principal, and superintendent of area schools.

Tuesday, June 2 - Cynthia Patton

Lieutenant Colonel Cynthia Patton served over twenty-five years of service on active duty and in the Reserves. Deployed during Operation Enduring Freedom, she served as the Theater Database Manager for Third Army, and also worked as a Defense Contractor in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

The decorated veteran is now the owner and President of Patton Leadership Consulting which provides training and leadership development to members of the Army.

Wednesday, June 3 - Stan Cherrie

Brigadier General Stan Cherrie served in the United States Army for over 30 years, primarily in armored Combat Arms units as a commander or staff officer. Deployed four times throughout his career, he served in Viet Nam twice as an armed helicopter platoon leader and ground cavalry troop leader, and later served in Bosnia and Southwest Asia in support of Operation Desert Storm.

The recipient of the Distinguished Service Medal, the Silver Star, and the Purple Heart, Brigadier General Cherrie retired in Leavenworth in 1998.

Thursday, June 4 - David Velasquez

Master Sergeant David Velasquez serves as a Loadmaster on a C-130 cargo plane with the Missouri Air National Guard. He has deployed multiple times to Afghanistan where his unit conducted air-drop missions and Aero-Medical Evacuations of wounded service members.

The decorated first responder has also flown missions in support of humanitarian efforts such as the Haiti earthquake, overseas NATO training operations, and has supported special operations and Airborne unit training missions.

Friday, June 5 - Isaiah Coleman

Enlisting in the United States Army in 1977, First Sergeant Isaiah Coleman served twenty-two years of active duty service as a rifleman and intelligence analyst. After retiring in 1999, First Sergeant Coleman deployed to Iraq three times in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and three times to Afghanistan in support of the International Security Assistance Force as a Senior Intelligence Analyst.

The Lincoln, Nebraska native has received numerous awards including the Legion of Merit award and the Defense Meritorious Service Medal.

Saturday, June 6 - Jeffrey Hamilton

Chief Warrant Officer Jeffrey Hamilton has served in the United States Army for 13 years and currently serves as a 150-U Unmanned Aircraft Systems Platoon Leader and Operations Technician. Throughout his military career, Chief Warrant Officer Hamilton has been stationed all over the world and deployed once to Afghanistan and four times to Iraq, most recently returning from his last deployment on March 7 of this year.

Highly decorated, the Junction City native has received the Bronze Star and the Meritorious Service Medal.

Sunday, June 7 - Daryl Ford

Fireman First Class Daryl Ford served in the United States Navy on the USS Sierra during World War 2. While stationed in the Phillipines in the Pacific theater, Daryl and his shipmates would repair other destroyers that were damaged from battle.

Following the war, Fireman First Class Ford was a postmaster in Valley Falls, Kansas for thirty years and heavily involved in his community.

Wednesday, June 17 - Justin Love

Lance Corporal Justin Love has served over three years in the United States Marines Corp. A landing Support Specialist, he has been deployed to South Korea in support of their defense. Recently, Lance Corporal Love returned from the Middle East where he served in a Major General command and helped aid Jordanian defense.

After finishing his degree in Criminal Justice, he hopes to become a Marine Corps Officer.

Thursday, June 18 - Calvin Harms

Corporal Calvin Harms served in the United States Army Air Force during World War II. Stationed in Guam as a part of the 457th Bombardment Squadron and 330th Bombardment Group, he was a munitions worker specializing as an aviation ordinance man, responsible for the maintenance of bombs, guns, and other ammunition on a B-29 bomber outfit.

Following the war, the Lexington, Missouri resident returned home where he was married and raised three children while working as a farmer.

Friday, June 19 - John Silverstein

Colonel John Silverstein served in the United States Army for twenty-seven years and has deployed all over the world including trips to Bosnia, Kosovo, Korea, Kuwait, and multiple combat tours in Iraq. For the last four years, he served as the Chief of Operations Group Sierra, Mission Command Training Program at Fort Leavenworth, traveling to military locations worldwide training senior military organizations for combat deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan.

Recently retired, Colonel Silverstein is the recipient of the Legion of Merit, two Bronze Stars, and the Purple Heart for combat injuries sustained in Iraq.

Saturday, June 20 - Avonne Rosario

Major Avonne Rosario has served in the United States Air Force in Security Forces since 2001. An integral part of the US drawdown from Iraq in 2011, the Kansas City, Kansas native was hand-selected to be the Antiterrorism Advisor to a 2-star general and was responsible for the protection of more than 20,000 service men and women engaged in combat and stability operations.

Also during her time in Iraq, she received high praise from the Department of State and American and Iraqi commanders for her exceptional vision and leadership of Iraqi Kids Day which provided vital outreach to more than 130 local Iraqi children.

Sunday, June 21 - Robbie Wildhaber

Petty Officer Robbie Wildhaber was a builder with the United States Navy Fighting Seabees. During his time with the Seabees, he was a part of Operation Joint Guard in Bosnia and Operation Iraqi Freedom in Iraq. The decorated military man has also spent time serving in Guam, Rota Spain, Turkey, and Kuwait.

In October, Petty Officer Wildhaber will be retiring after 20 years of honorable service.

Thursday, July 2 - Christina Keener

At seventeen, Specialist Christina Keener joined the United States Kansas Army National Guard as a Combat Medic and Healthcare Specialist. Serving with two units during her career, in 2003 Specialist Keener volunteered to deploy to Bosnia with the 1-108th Aviation Battalion Blackhawk unit where she participated in free clinics held in public schools for Bosnians with no health insurance and supplied much needed schools supplies and repairs to schools.

In 2011, the Overland Park native left the Kansas Army National Guard to focus on raising her daughters and go back to school to become a Registered Nurse.

Friday, July 3 - William Davis

First Lieutenant William Davis joined the United States Army Air Corps during World War II. As a navigator on a B-17, Bill was shot down by enemy fire over Germany in 1943 and was prisoner of war for nearly two years before being liberated by General Patton's forces.

Following the war, First Lieutenant Davis, who recently turned ninety-five years old, returned to the states where he started his career as a telegrapher with the Rock Island Railroad and earned a degree in Communication Studies from UMKC.

Saturday, July 4 - Dustin Johns

Sergeant Dusin Johns served in the Marine Corps for seven years with deployments to Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Pacific. In 2011, while serving as an E-O-D Technician clearing an area of explosive hazards in Sangin Valley, Afghanistan, he stepped on an IED, which resulted in the traumatic amputation of both legs, two fingers on his right hand, and a traumatic brain injury. After multiple life-saving surgeries, and weeks of intensive therapies, Dustin, with the support of his wife Melissa, gruelingly learned how to walk with prosthetics.

Medically retired in December of 2012, he and his family reside in Grain Valley, while he attends school full-time at the University of Central Missouri with plans to get a degree in Design and Drafting.

Sunday, July 5 - Robert Holder

Sergeant Robert Holder served in the Army Reserve for six years. A chinook mechanic, he served in Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan from 2011 to 2012. While there, the decorated veteran performed scheduled and unscheduled Aircraft maintenance keeping Aircraft fully mission operational, and manned a fighting position and pulled security on local nationals on Forward Operating Base Salerno.

Tuesday, July 7 1:10 PM - Jason Miller

First Sergeant Jason Miller enlisted in the United States Army in May of 1996 as a combat engineer. Stationed all over the country he served with the 82nd Airborne at Fort Bragg for over a decade and became a jumpmaster. Throughout his nineteen years of service, First Sergeant Miller has won many awards and traveled all over the world including three tours in Iraq and two to Afghanistan.

The veteran is currently stationed at Fort Hood where he lives with his wife and five children.

Tuesday, July 7 7:10 PM - Travis Higginbotham

Major Travis Higginbotham served in the US Army Corps of Engineers for twenty years. Throughout his career, he served in multiple leadership positions, and after being promoted to Major, he served as Facilities Engineer with Fort Dix, New Jersey, and did an unaccompanied tour in Korea as a Brigade Engineer plnning combat engineer support for a four thousand man first brigade, 2nd Infantry Division.

Before retiring in 1996, Major Higginbotham's final assignment was with the Kansas City District Corps of Engineers, playing a major role in their response to the 1993, 1994, and 1995 floods that devastated the Missouri River Valley.

Wednesday, July 8 - Charles Blaschke III

Colonel Charles Blaschke III, enlisted in the United States Navy in 1971 and served on a Destroyer and Nuclear Power Submarine in the Republic of Vietnam. Later commissioned in the United States Army National Guard, he deployed to Iraq twice, first as a Master Planner and Base Engineer in Balad, Iraq in 2005 and as the Deputy Base Garrison Commander of Victory Base Complex in Baghdad in 2008.

The recipient of the Legion of Merit and Bronze Star, Colonel Blaschke retired from the U.S. Army Reserves in 2013 after a combined active and reserve time of forty-one and a half years of service.

Thursday, July 9 - Paul Warner

Sergeant Paul Warner served in the United States Marine Corps for four years of active duty. As a 1371 combat engineer, he deployed to Iraq in 2003 with Task Force Tarawa and was responsible for route clearance and IED disposal.

The decorated Topeka, Kansas native's awards include the Combat Action Ribbon and the Presidential Unit Citation.

Friday, July 10 - James Krakar

Lieutenant Colonel Jimmy Krakar graduated from West Point in 1990 and was commissioned in the Infantry. Deployed five times, once each to Somalia and Iraq and three times to Afghanistan, he served in positions ranging from Company Executive Officer to Counterinsurgency Advisor for the Commanding General.

Currently, the Bronze Star recipient, is in the Army Reserve assigned to United States Special Operations Command.

Saturday, July 11 - Clifford Kerns

Staff Sergeant Clifford Kerns served in the United States Army from 1943 to 1945. Stationed in Europe, he served as a balltur gunner on a B-17 flying 33 missions across Central Europe, Ardennes, and Rhineland.

Following the war, he was honorably discharged and returned to St. Joseph, Missouri where he was a residential home builder.

Sunday, July 12 - Mike Peterson

Sergeant Mike Peterson served over twenty years in the 2-137th Infantry in the Kansas Army National Guard. Deployed three times to Saudi Arabia, Germany, and Iraq, Sergeant Peterson served as the battalion commander's personal security detail in the infantry battalion.

Retired in 2009, he is now volunteering with the VFW and is the commander of Post 7397 in Lenexa, Kansas.

Monday, July 20 - Collin Knickerbocker

Damage Controlman First Class Collin Knickerbocker enlisted in the United States Navy in 2009 and was first assigned to the Amphibious Landing Ship USS Whidbey Island. Over five years, he rose through the ranks to First Class Petty Officer and was deployed in support of Operation Unified Protector off the coast of Libya in 2011 and Anti-Piracy Operations off the coast of Somalia.

Joining him tonight are Aviation Electronics Technician Second Class Joseph Baker, Aviation Electronics Technician Second Class Truman Bush, and Aviation Boatswain's Mate Handler First Class Jason Nelson.

Tuesday, July 21 - Michael Walsh

Chief Warrant Officer 5 Michael Walsh has served for over thirty-six years in multiple assignments around the world including Army Aviation. Awarded the Master Aviator badge by the Army, Chief Walsh is qualified in six different rotary wing aircraft and is also a distinguished Instructor Pilot and Instrument Flight Examiner.

The Bronze Star recipient has had multiple deployments and participated in numerous military operations including Grenada, Panama, the Gulf War, Bosnia, Kosovo, Global War on Terror, Afghanistan, Iraq and remains active in the War against the Islamic State.

Wednesday, July 22 - Payton Growney

Airman First Class Payton Growney has served in vehicle operations in the United States Air Force for two years. Recently, Airman First Class Growney returned from a deployment at Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar where she helped move over 380,000 pounds of cargo.

She is now stationed at Scott Air Force Base where her duties will include assisting numerous Generals and High ranking diplomats during their stay at the base.

Friday, July 24 - Eddy Batista

Captain Eddy Batista has served in the United States Army for fourteen years. Deployed three times in support of contingency operations, Captain Batista first served as a member of a mechanized infantry battalion in Southwest Asia, and later deployed with a Joint Sustainment Command to Afghanistan.

In April, the Bronze Star recipient returned from his third deployment where he a member of an Aviation Support Battalion that provided World Class Aviation support to US and NATO forces in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Inherent Resolve.

Saturday, July 25 - Jim Maxwell

Jim Maxwell served in the United States Navy and Marines beginning in 1943 as a hospital corpsman. Throughout his service, the Purple Heart recipient served all over the world including Iwo Jima during World War 2, Guantanamo Bay, and Korea during the Korean War.

After twenty years, Jim retired from the military, and then worked for the Weather Bureau for more than twenty years.

Sunday, July 26 - James Ripley

Staff Sergeant James Ripley served from 1943 to 1945 as an airplane gunner during the Air Offensive in Europe. As a waist gunner, toggler, bombardier, and tail gunner, Staff Sergeant Ripley flew in over thirty missions on a B-17 called the Flying Fortress with the 388th Bomber Group.

Highly decorated, he was awarded two Bronze Stars and The Distinguished Flying Cross, and his unit was given a Presidential Citation.

Friday, August 7 - Anthony Hall

Technical Sergeant Anthony Hall has served in the in the United States Air Force for eleven years. An avionics technician on a C-130 aircraft, he has deployed four times in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Jump Start, Operation Joint Forge, and Operation Coronet Oak.

The decorated veteran returned from his last deployment in July and is a local police officer.

Saturday, August 8 - Theodore Knox

Sergeant Theodore Knox served in the United States Marine Corp for over eleven years. Serving with the 1st Battalion, 7th Marines, Delta Company, the Bronze Star medalist and Purple Heart recipient served ten months in Vietnam and was involved in several major operations.

Retired in 1978 due to war wounds sustained in Vietnam, he is now a Deacon at a Baptist Church.

Sunday, August 9 - Gene McGraw

Yeoman 3rd Class Gene McGraw served in the United States Navy during World War II and specialized in transportation and supplies. Following the war, he returned to Kansas to help his family on the farm and and worked for the Kansas City Power and Light Company for thirty-six years.

Yeoman 3rd Class McGraw's father and brothers also served in the military, including one brother who was killed in Korea in 1951. Gene now is heavily involved in the Bonner Springs VFW post, coordinating events in honor of his brother, ensuring his sacrifice is remembered.

Monday, August 10 - William Schultz

Corporal William Schultz served in the United States Marine Corp for five years. Serving with the 2nd Battalion, 5th Marines out of Camp Pendleton, the Topeka High School graduate specialized as an infantryman and machine gunner and deployed twice in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan.

Tuesday, August 11 - Don Wratchford

Specialist Don Wratchford joined the United States Army in 1959 and sent to Fort Leonard Wood for basic training. Later stationed at Fort Hood and Fort Dix, he eventually was sent to Germany for several years, where he was a driver for his Commanding officer, serving during the time of the Berlin Crisis.

A Specialist 4 in the Army Infantry, Don earned a Sharpshooter Badge and proudly served his country until 1962.

Wednesday, August 12 - Julie Vineyard

Staff Sergeant Julie Vineyard joined the United States Army right after high school. Stationed first at Fort Rucker, Alabama, where she was the 1986 Soldier of the Year, she later transferred to Fort Benning, Georgia and went to airborne school and leader development school.

Honorably discharged from the Army in 1990, Staff Sergeant Vineyard joined the Kansas National Guard in 2000 in which she served for a year.

Thursday, August 13 - Dwayne Ward

Chief Master Sergeant Dwayne Ward has served in the United States Air Force for twenty-six years. Deployed three times, he served twice in Iraq at the Ali Air Base as a First Sergeant, and once in Afghanistan as the Senior Enlisted Advisor for NATO Force Command AWACS Headquarters.

Currently, Chief Master Sergeat Ward is the Superintendant for the 349 Recruiting Squadron at Tinker Air Force Base.

Friday, August 14 - Bryan Walters

Staff Sergeant Bryan Walters has served in the United States Army for sixteen years. Deployed four times to Bosnia, Herzegovina, Iraq, and Afghanistan, Staff Sergeant Walters was part of the initial Iraq invasion force where he helped maintain fuel routes for the tens of thousands of soldiers who utilized it.

The decorated veteran also helped establish rugged mountain pass roads and built perimeter walls for new combat out-posts in the most dangerous south-eastern parts of Afghanistan.

Saturday, August 15 - Dustin Wells

Sergeant First Class Dustin Wells has served a combined sixteen years in the Army and Missouri Army National Guard. Deployed sixteen months in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, the infantryman was responsible for combat and presence patrols. Later deployed to Kuwait for a year, he served as a Brigade Lethal fire support non-commissioned officer.

Currently, the Bronze Star and two-time Meritorious Service Medal recipient is a recruiting and retention NCO for the Missouri Army National Guard.

Sunday, August 16 - William Hilarides

Vice Admiral William Hilarides has served in the United States Navy for thirty-four years. Throughout his service, he has held numerous positions including the Commanding Officer of the USS Key West and Program Executive Officer - Submarines where he was responsible for all new construction submarine programs and the acquisition and sustainment of all of the individual systems aboard the Navy's submarines.

Now the 43rd commander of the Naval Sea Systems Command, Vice Admiral Hilarides overseas a global workforce of more than 60,000 military and civilians who are dedicated to designing, building, and maintaining the Navy's ships and combat systems.

Monday, August 24 - Harold "Buddy" Alkire

Master Sergeant Harold "Buddy" Alkire served in the United States Air Force for twenty-four years. Specializing as a Weapons Maintenance Mechanic and a Superintendant in the Wing Safety Office, Master Sergeant Alkire served in Vietnam as a Helicopter Door Gunner, in Thailand as a Load Team Crew Chief, and in Afghanistan as a Theater Safety Officer.

Highly decorated, the longtime service member also worked thirty-two years with the Federal Government as a Regional Safety Manager before retiring in 2013.

Tuesday, August 25 - Tom Stallbaumer

Specialist Tom Stallbaumer enlisted in the United States Army in 1969 and served until 1971. A Specialist 4 in the 4th Division, the Seneca, Kansas native served in Vietnam as a Light Weapons Infantryman and received the Combat Infantryman Badge, the Vietnam Serve Medal with two Bronze Stars, and the National Defense Service Medal.

Following the war, Tom returned home where he served as a member of the volunteer fire department for twenty years, was elected Chief for two terms, and played an integral role in the planning and construction of a new station.

Wednesday, August 26 - Charles Cornelius

Colonel Charles Cornelius has served in the United States Air Force for twenty-two years. Currently, Colonel Cornelius serves as a Mobilization Augmentee to the Director of Cyberspace Operations and Warfighting Integration at the Pentagon in Washington, DC, where he advised the Secretary of the Air Force's Chief Information Officer on cybersecurity and warfighting system integration matters.

Deployed to multiple countries, the highly decorated veteran has performed multiple operations including the evacuation of an American Embassy, supporting A-10 Close Air Support Missions, and curtailing piracy off the Horn of Africa.

Thursday, August 27 - Justin Murray

Sergeant Justin Murray served in the United States Marines Corp for seven years. As an Amphibious Reconnaissance Marine, he was deployed in support of Desert Storm in 1990, and to Mogadishu, Somalia in 1993 and 1994.

Now retired, Justin is the President of the local Kansas City based organization, Support Special Operations Forces where they provide direct support to Special Operations personnel and their families.

Tuesday, September 1 - Dennis Graylessy

Chief Warrant Officer Dennis Grayless served in the United States Marine Corps for 25 years. During his service the decorated officer served in a variety of positions including as a drill instructor from 1986-1989, and deployed to Southwest Asia in support of Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm.

In 2005, Chief Warrant Officer Grayless retired from active duty and began his second career as the Senior Naval Science Instructor, Navy Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps, at Shawnee Mission North High School.

Wednesday, September 2 - Slade Deister

Sergeant First Class Slade Deister has served in the United States Army for twelve years. A veteran of two deployments to Iraq and two deployments to Afghanistan, the medic and platoon sergeant was responsible for the first line treatment and evacuation of injured soldiers in his unit while conducting combat and presence patrols in Ramadi, Fallujah, and the Korengal Valley.

The decorated veteran and Bronze Star recipient is currently stationed at Fort Leavenworth where he serves as the non-commissioned officer in charge of primary care at Munson Army Health Center.

Thursday, September 3 - George Berlin

Corporal George Berlin served in the United States Army for three years during World War 2. Serving in the 75th Infantry Division, he fought in three battles including the Battle of the Bulge, Colmar Pocket, and The Ruhr Valley Battle. For his service, he received three battle stars, the Bronze Star, Combat Infantry Badge, and The Legion of Honor Badge which was given to him by the French.

Following the war, George worked for the government at the Detroit Tank Arsenal working on experimental tanks.

Friday, September 4 - Taylor Hess

Surgical Technician 3rd Grade George Taylor Hess served in the United States Army during World War 2. As a member of the 84th Field Artillery Battalion, Tech Hess served as a medic, traveling through Belgium to the Rhine River fighting against German panzer tanks and was in Czechoslovakia when the war ended.

Following the war, Taylor finished his undergraduate degree at Harvard and received a law degree from the University of Pennsylvania Law School. Eventually he and his family moved to Kansas City where he worked as an attorney for United Telecom.

Saturday, September 5 - Loyal George

Chief Petty Officer Loyal George served in the United States Navy from 1940 to 1946. As a third class petty officer, he was assigned to the USS Tennessee at Pearl Harbor and on the morning of December 7, he was awakened by the General Quarters alarm and was thrown into war. After his ship took damage, he was stationed in Washington for two years before being transferred to Samar in the Philippines.

Following the war, the decorated veteran became an electrician in Lawrence, Kansas.

Sunday, September 6 - Ralph Yoder

Following the start of the Korean War, Sergeant Ralph Yoder enlisted in the United States Army as an infantryman in 1950. After completing basic training and infantry training, Sergeant Yoder was sent to Japan with the 40th Infantry Division, and later sent to Korea where he served a tour of duty as a combat infantryman in the Korean War.

After leaving the military, Ralph graduated from college and served the Midwest as an animal scientist, working with local organizations.

Monday, September 7 - Rex Walsh

Master Sergeant Rex Walsh enlisted in the military on his 18th birthday during World War 2. Trained as a radio operator, Master Sergeant reported to Fort Bennington and was later sent to the Philippines and Japan.

Honorably discharged in 1946, he returned home where he and his family owned and operated one of the largest independently owned grain elevators for over 30 years. In 2013, Rex participated in an Honor Flight and believes it was one of the single most important events of his life.

Tuesday, September 8 - Charles Beebe

Master Sergeant Charles Beebe enlisted in the Missouri Army National Guard in 1982 and has trained as a combat engineer, light wheel vehicle mechanic, and attended Unit Supply Specialist training. Throughout his thirty-three years of service, he has trained and served all over the world including Panama, Honduras, Italy, and served with the Bravo Battery, 129th Field Artillery in Afghanistan on a force protection mission.

Master Sergeant Beebe, who is currently a Senior Operations NCO, has also worked on multiple humanitarian efforts including in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina.

Wednesday, September 9 - Carol McCoy

Sergeant Carol McCoy served in the United States Army for six years. As military police, she served four years overseas in Mannheim and Bad Tolz Germany.

Currently Sergeant McCoy is passionately involved with veteran disaster response organization Team Rubicon and veteran reintegration organizations Spencer C. Duncan Make it Count Foundation and Team Red, White, and Blue.

Tuesday, September 22 - Ted Lagoski

Staff Sergeant Ted Lagoski enlisted in the United States Marine Corp the day after Pearl Harbor was attacked. Serving with the 3rd Amphibious Corp from 1941 to 1945, he served in Guadalcanal, Okinawa, the Marshall Islands, Guam, and China.

Following World War 2, the ninety-three year-old returned to Kansas where he married his wartime pen pal Betty, raised 8 children, and became the vice-president of the C.F. Bender Company.

Wednesday, September 23 - Skip MacLaughlin

First Lieutenant Skip MacLaughlin served in the US Army Infantry during the Vietnam War from 1968 to 1971. A commander of an infantry platoon and participant in numerous battles, he and his men received the Bronze Star for rescuing a helicopter pilot and gunners after being shot down.

Also the recipient of the Army Commendation Medal for Valor, First Lieutenant MacLaughlin led a special recover mission of Army troops from the Americal Division in the Quang Tri Province.

Thursday, September 24 - Dick Cole

Joining the Army Air Corps in 1940, Lieutenant Colonel Dick Cole flew B-25 with the 17th Bombardment Group. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, he volunteered for a secret mission known as Doolittle's Raid in which they flew B-25s from the deck of the USS Hornet to bomb Japan. Lieutenant Colonel Cole served as Lieutenant Colonel James Doolittle's co-pilot during what is considered one of the most courageous deeds in military history and a pivotal point in the war.

The 100-year old military man served twenty-six years in the US Army Air Forces and US Air Force, participating in many more battles, invasions, and special operations, receiving numerous awards including the Distinguished Flying Cross with two oak leaf clusters and the Bronze Medal.

Friday, September 25 - J.R. Lawlor

Chief Warrant Officer J.R. Lawlor served his country for over twenty-seven years. After joining the Missouri Air National Guard, he was assigned to the C-23 Sherpa and was deployed to Iraq twice with the detachment, flying over 200 missions with 2,250 combat hours.

The Bronze Star recipient retired in 2012 and is now an accident investigator and pilot for Fedex.

Saturday, September 26 - Jeff Hagerman

Petty Officer 1st Class Jeff Hagerman has served with the United States Navy for 17 years. A utilitiesman, he has been deployed to Iraq where he was the yard boss of the Material Liason Officer Yard, and Afghanistan where he managed the maintenance department help desk in Camp Krutke Seabee base.

Currently a Seabee Reservist with the Naval Mobil Construction Battalion NMCB22, he is employed by McRoberts Security Company.

Sunday, September 27 - Andy Jasso

Sergeant Andy Jasso has served six years as a United States Army paratrooper. While deployed to Afghanistan with the 82nd Airborne Division where he was his platoon's lead fires NCO, they were ambushed by Taliban fighters. Wounded by sniperfire during the fight, Sergeant Jasso was awarded the Purple Heart and returned to duty just a couple of weeks later.

The decorated veteran also deployed to Iraq where he served as a platoon sergeant and completed countless escort and counterinsurgency missions.

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