By Jeff Mullin, Senior Writer
Enid News and Eagle
ENID, Okla. —
Enid will pause today and Monday to remember and honor America’s military veterans.
Tonight at 6:30, the Legacy Award Ceremony will be held at the Chisholm Trail Expo Center, 111 W. Purdue.
The event, hosted by Woodring Wall of Honor, will honor five area veterans of the year.
The veterans to be honored are Elmer Young, representing the Army; Coot Nelson of the Marines; Paul Tyree of the Navy; R.D. Lawrence of the Air Force; and Jack Murphy of the Coast Guard.
Young, Nelson, Tyree and Lawrence served during World War II while Murphy served during the 1950s and 1960s.
In addition, Woodring Wall of Honor volunteers will be recognized and winners of the group’s youth patriotic poster and essay contests will be recognized.
The night’s keynote speaker will be Col. Leon “Lee” Ellis, a fighter pilot during the Vietnam War, who was shot down and held prisoner for five and a half years in the notorious “Hanoi Hilton” North Vietnamese prison, where he was held captive with Sen. John McCain and others. Ellis is author of the book “Leading With Honor: Leadership Lessons from the Hanoi Hilton.” Ellis will speak about his experiences as a prisoner of war and the lessons he learned as a result.
Tickets for the banquet, which begins at 6:30, are $30, while general admission tickets for the program, which begins at 7:30, are $15.
The retired traveling Vietnam Memorial Wall that will have a permanent home at Woodring will be dedicated during a ceremony beginning at 11 a.m. Monday.
The wall was purchased from a Texas-based veterans group last December, and will have a permanent home adjacent to the Woodring Wall of Honor and Veterans Park.
Fundraising efforts raised $250,000, matched by an anonymous donation of $250,000 which made up the $500,000 purchase price of the wall. The fundraising committee wound up raising more than $400,000 in all, and received approximately another $125,000 to $150,000 in assistance in donated materials and labor.
Between 3,000 and 5,000 people are expected to attend the dedication ceremony. Parking figures to be at a premium at the ceremony, so those planning to attend are urged to arrive early. The airport’s main gate will be closed at 8:30 a.m. and remain closed for the duration of the ceremony. The east entrance, off 66th Street, will be for general parking and bus parking while the west gate, off Jerauld Gentry Road, will be for handicapped, distinguished visitors, special guests and motorcycles. There will be parking attendants on hand directing traffic.
The ceremony will be emceed by Ashton Edwards, reporter from KFOR-TV in Oklahoma City, and will include a 21-gun salute by the Silver Talon Honor Guard from Vance Air Force Base, a flyover of Vietnam-era aircraft, a performance by Enid High School’s honor choir and a performance by Grammy- and Emmy-nominated trumpeter David Hooten. Volunteers from Vance will be helping with the festivities.
The wall will be dedicated by Bob Farrell and Dan Ohnesorge, co-chairmen of the fundraising committee that helped bring the retired traveling wall to Enid. Both are veterans who served in the Air Force, and both spent time at Vance.
Once again, the keynote speaker will be Ellis. Immediately following the ceremony, attendees will be able to search for names on the wall with the help of members of Enid’s Blue Star Mothers chapter. Those seeking names also can go to www.thewall usa.com/
In case of inclement weather, the ceremony will be moved to Chisholm Trail Expo Center Coliseum, said Rob Houston, communications director for Visit Enid.
The 80-percent replica of the wall in Washington, D.C., is made of anodized aluminum and contains the names of 58,286 Americans who lost their lives during the Vietnam War, including several from Enid.
For more information, call Visit Enid at 233-3643 or go to www.visitenid.org or woodringwallofhonor.com.