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The Daily Ardmoreite
  • Oklahoma Military Hall of Fame Inductees for 2013 Announced

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  • The only member of Oklahoma's Choctaw Nation to receive the Medal of
    Honor and a U.S. Army General who was born in Poland and lived in Germany as
    a child during World War II are among ten Oklahomans being inducted into the
    Oklahoma Military Hall of Fame in November.
    Five of the inductees are deceased, including two who were awarded
    the Medal of Honor for their heroism, and an Edmond man who was missing in
    action in Vietnam for 39 years before his remains were found and returned
    home.
    One inductee will receive the Maj. Gen. Douglas O. Dollar
    Distinguished Service Award. 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 held Saturday, Nov. 9, at the Jim Thorpe
    Museum's Banquet (Events) Center, 4040 N Lincoln in Oklahoma City.
    The inductees of 2013 are:
    --Sergeant First Class Tony K. Burris was born May 30, 1929, in
    Blanchard and died Oct. 9, 1951, on Heartbreak Ridge in Korea where his
    heroic action resulted in Burris being awarded the Medal of Honor
    posthumously. Burris also was awarded the Silver Star and Purple Heart with
    two Oak Leaf Clusters. He was a member of Co. L, 3rd Battalion, 38h Infantry
    Regiment of the 2nd Infantry Division. He distinguished himself on Oct. 8
    1951, when his company encountered intense fire from the enemy. Burris
    charged forward alone throwing hand grenades into the position, killing 15
    of the enemy. On Oct. 9, he was wounded by machine gun fire but continued
    assaulting an enemy position. He rose to his feet and charged with hand
    grenades, destroying two more enemy positions before being mortally wounded
    by enemy fire.
    1st Lt. Frederick F. Henry was born Sept. 23, 1919, in Vian. He
    enlisted in the Army and served in World War II and the Korean War. Henry
    was a Platoon Leader in Co. F, 2nd Battalion, 38th Infantry Regiment, 2nd
    Infantry Division when his platoon was attacked by a numerically superior
    enemy force near Andong, Korea. Although severely wounded, he ordered his
    platoon to withdraw and despite his wound, he remained behind to cover the
    platoon's movement. When last seen he was single-handedly firing all
    available weapons, resulting in 50 enemy casualties. He ran out of
    ammunition and his position was overrun. He was awarded the Medal of Honor,
    Page 2 of 6 - two Bronze Star Medals and two Purple Hearts posthumously.
    Major General Nicholas S. Krawciw was born Nov. 28, 1935, in Poland
    which now is part of the Ukraine. He lived in Germany throughout World War
    II. He came to America when he was 14 and lived in Philadelphia, Pa. In
    1955 he entered the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York. He
    achieved the second highest Cadet Command position and was a distinguished
    graduate. He served in 1962-63 in Vietnam and was severely wounded in an
    ambush. He served a second tour. During his combat tours, he earned six
    decorations for heroism. They were three Silver Stars, four Bronze Stars
    (two with "Vs" for for Valor), Distinguished Flying Cross , eight Air Medals
    and the Purple Heart. In 1972-73 Krawciw, then a Lieutenant Colonel, served
    as Chief of Operations Officer for the UN Truce Supervision Organization in
    Jerusalem during the1973 Yom Kippur War. He also served in the Department of
    Defense and as Director of NATO Policy. He was selected in 2006 as a West
    Point Distinguished Graduate. Upon retirement Gen. Krawciw chose to move to
    Tulsa after conferring with the Tulsa West Point Society and fellow retired
    officers.
    General Edwin H. Burba Jr. was born Sept. 13, 1936, in McAlester and
    lived there during World War II while he was in grade school and his father
    was, a Major General, was serving in the war. He now lives in McDonough,
    Ga., but says his roots are in Oklahoma, saying, "Some of my most vivid
    memories of my boyhood were in McAlester." Burba has come back to Oklahoma
    often for speaking engagements. U.S. Rep. Carl Albert of McAlester
    nominated Burba to the United States Military Academy, West Point, New York.
    He graduated from West Point in 1959 and went to the U.S. Army Infantry
    School, Fort Benning, Ga., where he graduated from the Officer Basic Course,
    the Airborne Course and Ranger Course. He served two tours in Vietnam and
    was seriously wounded during his second tour in Vietnam. He was awarded the
    Silver Star for his actions during a battle in 1968. His Silver Star
    citation said when his unit was heavily engaged with a larger enemy force,
    he exposed himself to hostile fire to maneuver his men into a good defensive
    position. On two occasions he went up in the command and control helicopter
    to keep his unit informed of the tactical situation. He was seriously
    wounded but continued to perform his duty. He had many command positions
    Page 3 of 6 - including Commanding General of the Infantry School and Center and Commander
    in Chief of U.S. Forces Command. He also was recognized as a Distinguished
    Graduate of the United States Military Academy. He was instrumental in
    America's mobilization for Desert Storm/Desert Shield. His other decorations
    include two Defense Distinguished Service Medals, two Distinguished Service
    Medals, Legion of Merit, Bronze Star Medal, 13 Air Medals, Purple Heart, two
    Meritorious Service Medals, Army and Air Force Commendation Medals, Combat
    Infantry Badge, Master Parachutist Badge, Ranger Tab and Army Staff
    Identification Badge.
    Lieutenant Colonel William R. Schwertfeger was born Sept. 22, 1945,
    in Enid and grew up on a farm near Medford. He now lives in Caldwell,
    Kansas. He graduated from Oklahoma State University on June 30, 1967, and
    entered active duty through the Air Force ROTC program at OSU. He completed
    undergraduate Pilot Training at Vance Air Force Base in Enid. He flew combat
    missions in Vietnam with the 433rd Tactical Squadron. He flew 352 combat
    missions in Vietnam. On Feb. 18, 1972, he and his Weapons Systems Officer
    were orbiting a potential enemy site when their F-4 was hit by a Russian SA2
    missile, which crippled the F-4, forcing Schwertfeger to land in what he
    thought was a safe area but was actually in the middle of North Vietnamese
    Army soldiers. He and his Weapons System Officer were held 407 days as POWs
    in the infamous "Hanoi Hilton." An OSU graduate, he was nominated for the
    Military Hall of Fame by Lieutenant Colonel Michael Sloniker, a U.S. Army
    aviator, friend of Schwertfeger's at OSU, and a fellow inductee into the
    Military Hall of Fame. Schwertfeger 's medals include three Silver Stars,
    four Distinguished Flying Crosses, Bronze Star Medal, two Purple Hearts,
    three Meritorious Service Medals, 34 Air Medals, Air Force Commendation
    Medal and Prisoner of War Medal.
    Maj. Frederick J. Ransbottom, U.S. Army, was born Sept. 19, 1946, at
    Columbus, Ohio, and in 1963 moved to Oklahoma. His mother lives in Edmond.
    Ransbottom graduated from Putnam City High School, attended Oklahoma Baptist
    University and then enlisted in the U.S. Army. He was commissioned a Second
    Lieutenant of Infantry. He deployed to Vietnam in January 1968 and commanded
    a Long Range Reconnaissance Platoon, Co. E, 2nd Battalion, 1st Infantry
    Regiment, 196th Light Infantry Brigade of the cq Americal (cq) Division . )
    His unit was assigned to defend 30 outposts in the mountains surrounding a
    Special Forces Camp at Kham Duc, which was surrounded by an estimated 5,000
    North Vietnamese soldiers .On Mother's Day, May 12, 1968, his area came
    Page 4 of 6 - under a massive attack, was overrun and he was killed. Officials believed
    Maj. Ransbottom was a POW, but he was not. In 2006, nearly 39 years later,
    his remains were found and returned to Oklahoma. His medals and decorations
    include the Silver Star and Purple Heart.
    Lieutenant Colonel Michael E. Sloniker was born Aug. 27, 1945, at
    Fort Sill, Oklahoma. He graduated from Lawton High School in 1963 as did a
    fellow inductee, the late U.S. Navy Captain Robert J. Kelsey. Sloniker lives
    in Edmond, graduated from Oklahoma State University in 1967 as did his
    friend, Lieutenant Colonel William R. Schwertfeger, also a fellow inductee
    this year. Sloniker was commissioned in Army Artillery. He also completed
    the U.S. Army Airborne Course at Fort Benning, Ga., and Field Artillery
    Officer Basic course at Fort Sill. In 1967 he served in the 2nd Battalion,
    319th Field Artillery Regiment, 101st Airborne Division in South Vietnam.
    In 1970 he completed Rotary Wing School at Fort Wolters, Texas, and Fort
    Rucker, Ala. In 1971, he was an U-1H Iroquois pilot and platoon Leader with
    the 174th Assault Helicopter Co. of the 23rd Infantry Division in South
    Vietnam. In 1971-72 he served as Executive Officer and then Operations
    Officer of Co. A, 229th Assault Helicopter Battalion of the 1st Calvary
    Division in Vietnam. In 1977-78, he was Commanding Officer, Company A, 501st
    Aviation Battalion, 1st Armored Division, Katterbach, West Germany. His
    medals and decorations include the Defense Superior Service Medal,
    Distinguished Flying Cross, Bronze Star medal with Oak Leaf cluster,
    Meritorious Service Medal with three Oak Leaf Clusters, Air Medal—27th
    award) with "V" and Army commendation medal with two Oak Leaf Clusters. He
    retired from the U.S. Army on Oct. 1, 1990, and joined Lockheed Martin Corp.
    He was manager for the U.S. Air Force Special Operations Command. He
    retired from Lockheed Martin in 2011.
    Captain Robert J. Kelsey, U.S. Navy, was born Dec. 2, 1945, in Lawton. He
    died on June 24, 1992. He was commissioned in the U.S. Navy through the Navy
    ROTC program at the University of Oklahoma. He was Phi Beta Kappa, an
    academic honor society, and was graduated with a Bachelor of Science in
    Mathematics and Physics. He completed flight training in the A-4F Aircraft
    in June 1979. After flight training he reported to the USS Oriskany in
    Southeast Asia and participated in air operations over North and South
    Vietnam. He was deployed twice with a VA-105 Squadron to the Mediterranean
    Sea and for service there was awarded the Commander Naval Air Atlantic
    Page 5 of 6 - Battle "E" and the Rear Admiral C. Wade McClusky award as the best Attack
    squadron in the U.S. Navy. During his career, he was appointed to be the
    Political Military planner on the Chief of Naval Operation Long Range
    Planning group. In 1984 he became command, light Attack Wing One and was the
    top pilot in the group. After his command tour he was selected as the
    Federal Executive Fellow at Harvard University. After his assignment at the
    Center for International Affairs, Harvard University, he served as Attack
    Programs Officer in the Strike and Amphibious Warfare Directorate until May
    1988 when he reported to the Commander, Carrier Group Eight as the
    Operations Officer. During his Naval career he flew more than 3,500 hours.
    His medals include the Legion of Merit, Distinguished Flying Cross three
    Meritorious Service Medals, 20 Air Medals with "Vs" and seven Navy
    Commendation Medals. He retired from the Navy on June 4, 1992, and died June
    24 1992 of cancer.
    Lieutenant Colonel Dudley J. Britton was born April 23, 1917, at Turley near
    Tulsa. He graduated from Turley High School. He enlisted in the U.S. Army in
    1935 and served in Co. C, 20th Infantry Regiment at Fort Francis Warren,
    Wyoming. In 1937 he served in the Philippines. He was commissioned following
    Officer Candidate School at Fort Benning, Georgia. He was serving in Co. B,
    23rd Armored Infantry Battalion, 7th Armored Division, on Aug. 10, 1944,
    when the unit landed eight miles from Utah Beach during the World War II
    Normandy Invasion. Britton fought in Europe and was awarded the Silver Star
    for gallantry for his actions in Belgium at the battle of St.Vith on Dec.
    22, 1944, during the Battle of the Bulge. He also was wounded and awarded
    his First Oak Leaf Cluster to his Purple Heart Medal . He would serve again
    in Combat during the Korean War. His medals include the Silver Star, Bronze
    Star Medal, Purple Heart with three Oak Leaf Clusters, Army Commendation
    Medal and Combat Infantry Badge with Star, designating a second award of
    that badge. In 1960 he began a 13-year tour in Southeast Asia including
    service in Vietnam as a Military Advisor. H also was a faculty member of the
    International Police Academy; from 1976 to 1981, Britton was an Associate
    Faculty member at Claremore Junior College, now called Rogers State
    University. Britton died in 1992.
    Lieutenant Colonel Jerry P. Orr, a combat veteran who lives in Lawton, will
    receive the Maj. Gen. Douglas Dollar Distinguished Service Award for service
    to the military. Orr was born Dec. 27, 1934, in Shreveport, La., and
    Page 6 of 6 - graduated from C.E. Byrd High School in 1952. He is a graduate of Centenary
    College of Louisiana with a BA Degree in Physical Education and a Minor in
    Biology. Twice wounded in combat, Orr entered Army service in 1957. He was
    commissioned a Second Lieutenant in Field Artillery. In 1958 he deployed to
    Korea, serving as a platoon leader and forward observer with the 1st
    Battalion, 19th Field Artillery. He returned to Fort Sill and commanded a
    battery in the 1st Missile Brigade. Served as an Aide-de-camp to Maj. Gen.
    William P. Peers, and then commanded a Little John Missile Firing Battery.
    In 1963 he served in Germany. In 1968, he served in Vietnam with the 4th
    Infantry Division. He was assigned as S-1 Division Support Command for two
    months and then assumed duty as Operations Officer, 2nd Battalion, 9th
    Artillery where he served as interim Battalion Commander for one month
    during some of the most intense ground combat in the Central Highlands. He
    later served in the Pentagon in the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff,
    Research and Development. Since retirement from the Army, Orr has worked
    with the Boy Scouts Recruiting Program for more than 30 years. His awards
    include the Soldiers Medal, two Bronze Star Medals with "V" for valor, two
    Purple Hearts, three Meritorious Service Medals, eight Air Medals and the
    Army commendation Medal.
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