U.S. Sen. John Boozman honored seven veterans, two posthumously, during an awards ceremony Friday evening in Van Buren.
Those honored served in conflicts throughout the years, including World War II, Operation Desert Storm, Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom, and in locations such as Korea, Vietnam, Kuwait and Southwest Asia.
The ceremony took place at Robert Jacks Veterans of Foreign Wars Post No. 1322, 23 N. 20th St., at 6 p.m. Friday.
"My staff assists veterans in obtaining their medals that have been lost, destroyed, or in some cases where veterans were entitled to medals, but were never received," Boozman said.
The late Steve Linton earned an Army Good Conduct Medal. His wife, Dorothie Linton, received the award on his behalf.
Linton began serving the nation in the U.S. Army during 1956. For two years, he served as a light vehicle driver attached to the 2nd Evaluation Hospital before he was honorably discharged in 1958. Then he returned to the Reserve component.
Also, the late Arvine Fitzgerald received five awards. His daughter, Donna Taylor, received the awards on his behalf. Fitzgerald was awarded the Army Good Conduct Medal, the American Campaign Medal, European-African Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with one silver star, WWII Victory Medal and the National Defense Service Medal.
Fitzgerald began as a general foreman and joined the U.S. Army in 1942 after leaving that job. He was a member of Battery C, 118 Anti-Aircraft Artillery and served in Europe in 1943. He fought in five separate campaigns. Before he returned to America in 1945, he provided air defense of staging areas, airfields, rail concentrations and troops.
The veterans present at the ceremony who received awards included Shawn Francis Wenninger, Robert Joseph McKimmons, David Glenn Humphrey, John Wayne Blackard and Gilbert Holt.
Wenninger retired as a sergeant first class from the Army after serving 24 years. He performed as a Psyops specialist and an armor crewman. He was deployed to Kuwait in 1991 and again in 2002. He also was deployed to Iraq between 2007-08.
He was awarded seven medals in the past, but Friday, he received 11 additional awards including the Meritorious Service Medal, Army Commendation Medal with three bronze oak leaf clusters, Army Achievement Medal with two bronze oak leaf clusters and one silver oak leaf cluster, the Good Conduct Medal 6th Award, National Defense Service Medal with one bronze service star, Southwest Asia Service Medal with one bronze service star, Humanitarian Service Medal, Kuwait Liberation Medal for Kuwait, the Global War on Terror Expeditionary Medal, the Global War on Terror Service Medal and the Iraq Campaign Medal with one bronze service star.
McKimmons began serving America in the Army in 1980, when he served as an infantryman for more than 20 years during the Cold War. He served in Korea on the Demilitarized Zone with the United Nations Joint Security Forces and also was stationed in Germany for more than three years before the Berlin Wall matter.
Even more, McKimmons served as an instructor at the Battle Focus Skills Course at Fort Carson, Co., before he retired at the rank of sergeant first class in 2000. Previously, he had received six awards, and Friday he received six more to add to his collection.
Among the awards McKimmons received Friday include the Meritorious Service Medal with three bronze oak leaf clusters, the Army Commendation Medal with three bronze oak leaf clusters, the Army Achievement Medal with three bronze oak leaf clusters, the Good Conduct Medal 6th Award, the National Defense Service Medal and the Korea Defense Service Medal.
Humphrey joined the Marine Corps in 1968, and served as an assault man in Vietnam. He served until he was injured by enemy action and was honorably discharged from active duty in 1969. Before Friday, he received four foreign awards, and Friday, he received the Purple Heart Medal, the National Defense Service Medal and the Vietnam Service Medal with two bronze service stars.
Blackard joined the U.S. Air Force in 1966 and performed as a weapons mechanic for four years. He served in Vietnam while in the Air Force. He was separated at George Air Force Base in California. In the past, he received three foreign awards, but Friday, he received four additional medals.
Friday evening, he received the Air Force Commendation Medal, the Air Force Good Conduct Medal, the National Defense Service Medal and the Vietnam Service Medal with one bronze service star.
The final recipient was Holt, who volunteered to join the Navy one day before his 18th birthday in 1944. He served in WWII. He initially trained at Gunnery School in San Diego, Calif., and later volunteered for the amphibian forces and received additional training in Little Creek, Va.
In 1945, he was sent to Pearl Harbor, where he received combat training before departing for missions in the Philippines. He was released from the Navy in Oakland, Calif., in 1945, and after, he returned to Arkansas, where he currently lives.
Prior to Friday, Holt received the Navy Discharge Button and Honorable Service Lapel Pin. Friday, he received the WWII Victory Medal, the American Campaign Medal and the Asiatic Pacific Campaign Medal.
In 2015, Boozman’s office assisted with 324 requests for help with military medals and records.