Woodring Wall of Honor


 

Col. Lee Ellis

Keynote speaker, Col. Lee Ellis

On Sunday night, the Woodring Wall of Honor paid tribute to their volunteers, honored 5 area veterans and winners of the youth patriotic  poster/essay contest were announced and honored.  In addition, City of Enid’s City Manager and former Navy Captain, Eric Benson was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award.

The ceremony was held at the Chisholm Trail Expo Center, with a banquet held before the award ceremony.  The keynote speaker was Colonel Leon “Lee” Ellis, former Hanoi Hilton POW and award winning author of the book “Leading with Honor: Leadership Lessons from the Hanoi Hilton.”


Legacy Awards:

The Wall of Honor honored one veteran from each branch of service with a Legacy Award.  Those honored this year were:

Army:  Elmer Young (presented by Lt. Col. Don Allen)

Marines:   Coot Nelson (presented by Doug Frantz)

Navy:  Paul Tyree (presented by David McCoy)

Air Force:  R.D. Lawrence (presented by Lt. Col. Mark Irwin)

Coast Guard:  Jack Murphy (presented by GMCM Mark Jacobs, USCG)

All but Murphy, who served during the 1950’s and 60’s, served during World War II.

Doug Frantz and David McCoy

Doug Frantz and David McCoy

Lt. Col. Don Allen

Lt. Col. Don Allen

David McCoy

David McCoy

 

 


Lifetime Achievement Award:

Eric Benson and wife, Barb.

Eric Benson and wife, Barb. Mr. Benson was unaware of this award until this moment.

Retired Navy Captain Eric Benson was awarded with a Lifetime Achievement Award.  Captain Benson served 29 years in the Navy.  He graduated from Oklahoma State University and became a Naval Reserve.  Later, he was commissioned into the Navy.  During his career, he served as the Commander of Naval Base Oceana.  Oceana, located in Virginia, has a population slightly less of Enid.  After that, he served as a senior advisor to the Deputy Director of Veteran’s Affairs.  He then spent some time as the acting Under Secretary of Memorial Affairs, and finally becoming the Deputy Director of the Selective Service.  In 2004, he and his wife Barb relocated to Enid to “retire.”  Or so he thought.  In January 2007, he was hired as the City Manager of Enid.  He has served in that capacity since then, but will retire at the end of 2014.

Eric Benson

Eric Benson

 


 

 Poster and Essay Winners:

 

Presley Blankenship and her poster

Presley Blankenship and her poster

First Place Winner 2nd-3rd

First Place Winner 2nd-3rd

First Place Winner K-1st

First Place Winner K-1st

First Place Winner 4th-5th

First Place Winner 4th-5th

Posters were judged on originality, artistic presentation, and theme.  Each first place winner received $50 for their class and $50 for themselves.  The essay contest was judged based on different themes for each group.  The elementary winner was Amber Pardo from Monroe.  The middle school winner was Emma Ainsworth from Waller.  The winner for each grade division received money to purchase a $100 savings bond, a certificate, and a medal.

Essays

A view of various essays

 


 

 

Keynote Speaker Colonel Leon “Lee” Ellis:

Colonel Lee Ellis was the keynote speaker for the evening’s ceremony.  He spoke of how he became interested in flight at the age of 5, traveling with his family to see a World War II memorial in his home state of Georgia.  Amazingly, from the time he graduated school to flying the top of the line F-4 Phantom, was only a little over a year.  “Pipeline Southeast Asia,” was what his paperwork read Ellis said.  He was on a fast track for the war in Vietnam.  Like all of our soldiers in war, he faced death everyday.  After taking a direct hit, Ellis and his cohort in the F-4 ejected and were eventually taken hostage as prisoners of war.  Destination:  Hanoi Hilton.

The Hanoi Hilton was anything but a Hilton hotel.  Small cells crowded with multiple people per cell, they lived in horrible conditions.  The soldiers eventually learned to communicate with each other without alerting guards.  They established a code amongst themselves.  No matter what happened, or how much torture they were subjected to by the North Vietnamese, they would leave that prison with honor.  After 5 long years, Ellis was released with the other occupants of the Hilton.  In his group, was future Arizona Senator John McCain.

Col. Lee Ellis

Col. Lee Ellis

Col. Lee Ellis

Ellis signed copies of his book, “Leading with Honor: Leadership Lessons from the Hanoi Hilton” for many in the crowd.

Leading with Honor

Leading with Honor: Leadership Lessons from the Hanoi Hilton

On Monday, Colonel Ellis will once again be a guest of honor at the Vietnam Memorial Wall Dedication ceremony at Woodring Airport.  The former traveling wall was purchased by The Woodring Wall of Honor after a fundraising campaign.  The ceremony begins at 11 am.

The ceremony on Sunday evening was presided over by Ashton Edwards from KFOR Channel 4.  Her father, Brad Edwards, also served in Vietnam and was locally famous for his “In Your Corner” segments where he would help people with issues they were facing.  Ashton encouraged the crowd to carry themselves in that same manner of helping people and being there for others.

Ashton Edwards

KFOR Channel 4’s Ashton Edwards