The Richmond Register

Local News

August 1, 2006

Six medal of honor recipients to attend veterans celebration

RICHMOND — Six recipients of the Medal of Honor, America’s highest military award for gallantry in combat, will attend the Kentucky Veterans Welcome Home Celebration this weekend at Battlefield Park.

Three of the Medal of Honor recipients, along with Tuskegee Airman Frank D. Walker of Richmond, will be recognized by Gov. Ernie Fletcher at a Thursday ceremony beginning at 5 p.m.

The three other Medal of Honor recipients will be honored on Friday evening.

“Having six medal recipients together at one time is unusual,” said Chuck Sawyers, who is coordinating the celebration’s Medal of Honor ceremony. “Many Medals of Honor are awarded posthumously. The courageous actions of the recipients cost them their lives.”

The ranks of the Tuskegee Airmen also are thinning. Only about 1,000 black pilots, the first in the U.S. military, were trained at Tuskegee University in Alabama. They were assigned to four escort fighter squadrons in World War II. None of the bombers they escorted were lost to enemy fighters.

Three of the Medal of Honor recipients are combat veterans of the Korean War, including Ernest E. “Ernie” West of Wurtland. The other two are Ronald E. Rosser of Crooksville, Ohio, and Rodolfo P. Hernandez of Colton, Calif.

The Vietnam War recipients are James E. Livingston of McRae, Ga., Donald E. Ballard of Kansas City, Mo., and John F. Baker Jr. of Moline, Ill.

On Oct. 12, 1952, West volunteered to accompanied a patrol assigned to location an destroy an enemy outpost. Before reaching its objective, the patrol was ambushed and suffered numerous casualties. West ordered the other troops to retreat while he attempted to rescue the unit’s wounded leader.

According to his citation, West survived intense enemy fire to reach the wounded man. As he attempted to evacuate him, West was attacked by three enemy soldiers employing grenades and small arms fire.

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