Three area men are among this year's honorees in the Oklahoma Military Hall of Fame on Nov. 8.
They include Sgt. William E. Wright of Moore, Maj. Gen. Jerry Holmes, Norman, and First Sgt. John Levi Sloat of Noble.
The late Brigadier General James R. “Robbie” Risner, a fighter pilot Ace during the Korean War and later a Prisoner of War in North Vietnam for more than seven years, will be among 10 Oklahomans inducted.
Four of the inductees, including two who were awarded the Medal of Honor for bravery in combat, are deceased.
Another inductee was the first Governor of the Absentee Shawnee Tribe.
One inductee will receive the Maj. Gen. Douglas O. Dollar Distinguished Service Award for service to veterans and support of community activities. The award is based on service rather than valor.
Dollar, a member of the Oklahoma Military Hall of Fame, is a Vietnam veteran who served in the U.S. Army Reserve after Vietnam service.
This year’s banquet will be Nov. 7, at the Oklahoma Tower Hotel, 3233 Northwest Expressway in Oklahoma City. The banquet begins with registration at 6:30 p.m. followed by the ceremony at 7 p.m.
The 2014 inductees are:
Brig. Gen. James R. “Robbie” Risner was born Jan. 16, 1946, in Mammoth Spring, Ark. He enlisted into the U.S. Army Air Force’s Aviation Program in 1943 and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant and awarded his Pilot Wings on May 23, 1944. He flew P-38 Lightnings and P-39 Air Cobras in Panama during World War II.
He joined the Oklahoma Air National Guard in 1946. He was recalled to active duty on Feb. 16, 1951, and flew 110 combat missions in fighters during the Korean War. He destroyed eight MIG-15s in aerial combat, becoming the 20th jet ace of that war.
After the Korean War, he remained in the Air Force, serving in various assignments. Risner flew the F-105 Thunderchief over North Vietnam and was taken prison on Sept. 16, 1965, and imprisoned at Hoa Lo Prison (Hanoi Hilton) until being released on Feb. 12, 1973.
Risner was inducted into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame in 1974 and retired from the Air Force in 1976. His awards and decorations include the Oklahoma Cross of Valor; two U.S. Air Force Distinguished Service Crosses; Distinguished Service Medal; two Silver Stars; three Distinguished Flying Crosses, two Purple Hearts and the Prisoner of War Medal. He died Oct. 22, 2013, and is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.
Technical Sgt. Charles F. Carey Jr. was born at Canadian in Pittsburg County on Dec. 23, 1915. He died Jan. 9, 1945, in a battle in Rimling, France.
Carey was commander of an anti-tank platoon in the 397th Regiment, 100th Infantry Division.
On Jan. 9, about 200 German infantrymen, re-enforced with 12 tanks, attacked Carey’s battalion and overran part of its position. After losing his guns, Carey, on his own initiative, organized a patrol that rescued two of his squads from a highly threatened sector of the area and evacuated the wounded.
He was killed by an enemy sniper during that battle. He was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions that day. His other awards and decorations include two Bronze Star Medals and the Purple Heart.
He is buried in the Ardennes American Cemetery, Neupre, Blegium.
Sergeant Troy McGill was born July 15,1914, in Knoxville, Tenn.
He was working for an oil company in Oklahoma when he enlisted into the U.S. Army in 1940 at Ada where his sister lived.
He was a Sergeant in Troop G, 5th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division, on Los Negros in the Admiralty Islands when he earned the Medal of Honor. On March 4, 1944, McGill, with an 8-man squad, occupied a revetment which was hit by a furious attack by about 200 drink-crazed enemy troops, his Medal of Honor citation said.
All the soldiers except McGill and another squad member, whom he ordered to return to another revetment, were killed. Resolving to hold his position at all cost, McGill fired his weapon until it quit functioning. With the enemy 5 yards away, he charged from his foxhole “in the face of certain death and clubbed the enemy with his rifle in hand-to-hand combat until he was killed,” the citation said.
At dawn, 105 enemy dead were found around his position. He was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor on Sept. 11, 1944. He is buried at Knoxville National Cemetery, Knoxville.
Captain Joseph H. Powers, a fighter pilot Ace during World War II, was born in Tulsa June 8, 1920, attended Tulsa schools and graduated from Tulsa Central High School.
He was attending the University of Oklahoma when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on Dec. 7, 1941. Powers entered the U.S. Army Air Forces through its Aviation Cadet program and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant and assigned to the 61st Fighter Squadron, 56th Fighter Group, 8th Air Force Base, Halesworth, England.
He became an Ace while flying a P-47C in 1943. Powers was officially credited with shooting down 14.5 enemy aircraft by the time World War II ended. He remained in the Air Force. During the Korean War, he was assigned to the 67th Fighter Bomber Squadron, 18th Fighter Bomber Group. He was flying a P-51D in support of ground units during his last mission on Jan. 18, 1951 when he was shot down by the enemy. His plane was on fire and plunged into a lake. His remains were never recovered.
Powers’ awards and decorations include the Silver Star, Distinguished Flying Cross with four Oak Leaf Clusters, Purple Heart, Air Medal with four Oak Leaf Clusters, European-African-Middle East Campaign Medal, World War II Victory Medal, United Nations Service Medal and Korean Service Medal.
First Sergeant John L. Sloat was born July 11, 1931, in Hog Creek Community east of Norman and tried to join the Army in 1945 but was too young.
He is the first Governor of the Absentee Shawnee Tribe and later was chairman of the Oklahoma Department of Indian Affairs. He lives in Little Axe community east of Norman.
After graduating from Bethel High school in 1948, he enlisted into the U.S. Army. Sloat, who lives in Noble, was wounded during fighting in Korea and received the Purple Heart. In 1964, Sloat was deployed to Vietnam. In 1967 he was assigned to Co. D, 2nd Battalion, 8th Cavalry (Airborne). He was wounded in April 1967 and again Thanksgiving Day of 1967.
On April 2, 1967, his unit’s command post was attacked by a large Viet Cong force using explosive charges, hand grenades and supporting small arms and automatic weapons fire. Seeing that the command post was in danger of being overrun, Sloat charged three machine gun positions, destroying them all.
Though suffering a head wound, he removed other wounded and dead — 26 in all — for evacuation. Because the helicopters were crowded, Sloat had to wait until the next morning to be evacuated.
Sloat was awarded the Silver Star for heroism. In 1968 he was assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, N.C., and retired in 1973. On June 3 1979, he was presented a Certificate of Outstanding Community Achievement by President Jimmy Carter.
Sgt. William E. Wright was born Nov. 20, 1947, in Oklahoma City, and grew up in the Midwest City-Del City area. He is a graduate of Del City High School.
Wright was drafted into the U.S. Army in July 1967 and sent to Vietnam in December 1967. He was a rifleman and radio-telephone operator in the Reconnaissance Platoon of Co. E, 2nd Battalion, 1st Infantry, 196th Light Infantry Brigade.
On May 8, 1968, he and seven other soldiers were manning an observation post when they came under fierce mortar and ground attack from the North Vietnamese Army. Wright got into a covered position and delivered suppressive fire against the enemy. He, his squad leader and another soldier tried to halt the enemy’s advance. Realizing they were about to be overrun, they withdrew to another firing position. While crossing the observation post’s perimeter wire, a grenade exploded, wounding Wright and a fellow soldier.
Despite his wounds, Wright maneuvered out of the area and assisted his wounded comrade to another position. After giving aid to the wounded soldier, Wright remained in the position and directed an artillery barrage and air strike that inflicted heavy casualties on the enemy. For his outstanding heroism in that battle, he was awarded the Silver Star and the Purple Heart.
His other awards include the Combat Infantry Badge, two Overseas Bars, National Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Service Medal and the Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal with 60 device. He is active in the Military Order the of Purple Heart, Vietnam Veterans of America and Veterans of Foreign wars.
In 2006, he was instrumental in recovery of remains of three American soldiers from Vietnam, including Maj. Fredrick J. Ransbottom, whose mother lives in Edmond. Ransbottom was inducted posthumously into the Oklahoma Military Hall of Fame in 2013. Wright now lives in Moore.
Col. Bill Ahrberg was born on a farm near Stillwater Aug. 10, 1927. He graduated from Pawhuska High School in 1945 and enlisted into the Navy, serving as a Seaman First Class for one year and then attending then Oklahoma A&M College (now Oklahoma State University). He joined the Reserve Officer Training Corps at Oklahoma A&M and was commissioned a Second Lieutenant.
In 1951, Ahrberg was called up for duty in the Korean War. The Pacific Stars and Stripes military newspaper wrote about Ahrberg’s platoon during the Korean War Battle of Bloody Angle, Hill 487, also called Old Baldy. The newspaper referred to Ahrbert’s platoon as “Bunker Busters.” After his platoon’s assault on an enemy position, only 10 of Ahrberg’s men were uninjured Thirty-four others were either injured or killed in action.
For his service in the Korean War, Ahrberg was awarded three Silver Stars for gallantry in combat, two Purple Hearts for wounds received. His awards also include the World War II Victory Medal and the U.S. Army Combat Infantry Badge. After returning home from Korea, he taught Military Science at Oklahoma State University for more than two years. He rejoined the U.S. Army Reserve in February 1955 and was assigned to the 4003rd U.S. Army Garrison. On Oct. 1, 1961, he was called up for active duty during the Berlin Crisis and assigned to Fort Chaffee, Ark., until Aug. 11, 1962.
He lives in Cushing, is a supporter of Cushing Public Schools, Tiger Sports and Oklahoma State University. His other awards include the Combat Infantry Badge, and the World War II Victory Medal.
Major Gen. Jerry D Holmes, U.S. Air Force, was born July 14, 1935, in Jenks and raised in Wewoka. He graduated from Wewoka High School in 1953 and from the University of Oklahoma in 1958 where he received a bachelor of science degree in geological engineering. In 1964, he graduated from The University of Oklahoma with a master of science degree in aerospace engineering.
He was commissioned in 1958 through the Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force. He completed Squadron Officer School in 1965, the U.S. National War College in 1976 and in 1985 graduated from The Harvard University Program for Senior Executives in National and International Security. From October 1969 to October 1970, he flew 135 combat missions in Vietnam in RF-101 and RF-4 aircraft.
On July 4, 1970, he flew against a heavily defended target in Laos known as Tchepone. The anti-aircraft fire was intense, the weather bad but he successfully destroyed his target and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross with a “V “for Valor.
After Vietnam, he was assigned to the Pentagon where he served as a planner in Fighter Force Plans. He then was assigned to the National War College. He served in South Carolina, Idaho, and Tinker Air Force Base.
In 1984, Holmes was promoted to Major General. He retired in September 1989 and moved to Norman where he taught in the OU College of Engineering as an adjunct professor. He also served on U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe’s staff as a military advisory and liaison to military installations in Oklahoma.
His awards and decorations include the Defense Distinguished Service Medal, U.S. Air Force Distinguished Service Medal, Legion of Merit, Distinguished Flying Cross, Bronze Star Medal, two Meritorious Service Medals, Air Medal with six Oak Leaf Clusters and Air Force Commendation Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster. He lives in Norman.
Command Sgt. Major Jack G. Joplin was born May 23, 1939, in Bromide, and joined the U.S. Army in 1961.
Joplin was awarded the Silver Star for his actions during a raid on Nov. 21, 1970, to rescue American POWs in Son Tay prison near Hanoi, North Vietnam. The POWs had been moved to a different camp before the raid, but it was termed a “tactical success” that showed our POWs and America they were not forgotten.
Joplin was trained in infantry skills and served in the 501st Battle group 82nd Airborne Division and 503rd Infantry Regiment of the 173rd Brigade. He was a member of Special Forces and a medic.
For more than 30 years he provided non-commissioned officer leadership at every level of special operations. His service includes Battalion Command Sgt. Major, 2nd Battalion, 1st Special force Group. Since retiring, he has taught and mentored several generations of Special Forces Officers and Non-commissioned officers. His other awards and decorations include the Bronze Star Medal, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Meritorious service Medal, Army Commendation Medal with “V” and Oak Leaf Cluster, Republic of Vietnam Cross of Gallantry with Palm, Combat Infantry Bade, Combat Medic Badge, Special Forces Stab Master Parachutist Badge, Self Contained under water breathing Apparatus Badge, Iran and Korea Parachutist Badges. He now lives Guntersville, Ala.
Sgt. Ronny D. Sweger lives in Salina, and will receive the Maj. Gen. Douglas O. Dollar Distinguished Service Award for his service to the Military.
Sweger was born April 16, 1974, in Tulsa and raised on a small farm near Bristow where he attended school. While studying at Northeastern State University in 1993, Sweger enlisted in the U.S. Army Oklahoma National Guard. He later left college and the Oklahoma Guard to join the U.S. Army Special Forces where he graduated from the U.S. Army Airborne Course and was assigned to the U.S. Army HALO team — Direct Action High Altitude and Low Opening (HALO).
He served in Africa, Afghanistan, and Iraq. In civilian life he has helped raise money for military charities as an advanced marksmanship instructor with Special Operation Forces, is active in the Green Beret Foundation and Special Forces Association.
His awards and decorations include three Bronze Star Medals with “V” for Valor; two Purple Hearts, Air Medal, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, two Meritorious Service Medals, Joint Service Commendation Medal, five Army Achievement Medals and U.S. Air Force Achievement Medal.
He is a master parachutist and has the Egyptian and Honduran Parachutist Badges, Royal British Parachutist Wing and German Armed Forces Parachutist Badge.