Beshear Unveils Medal of Honor Plaque

Mar 15, 2012

Gov. Steve Beshear Thursday joined lawmakers and veterans’ groups from across Kentucky to unveil a bronze plaque listing the names of Kentucky’s 60 Medal of Honor recipients. Three of Kentucky’s five living Medal of Honor recipients attended the event. “It’s a privilege to present this plaque that proudly lists the names of individuals who have selflessly served our country and fought for our freedom,” Beshear said.

“This symbol of their sacrifice and bravery can now be shared with the thousands of Capitol visitors, who can pay their respects and acknowledge the amazing achievements of these individuals.”

The Medal of Honor is the highest award for valor in action against an enemy force that can be bestowed upon an individual serving in the Armed Services of the United States. The award is generally presented to its recipient by the president of the United States of America in the name of Congress.

Kentucky currently has five living Medal of Honor recipients. PFC. Ernie West, SSG Don Jenkins and SGT Dakota Meyer attended the ceremony. SFC Gary Littrell and PVT Wilburn Ross are Kentucky’s other two recipients, according to a press release from the governor's office.

PVT Ross received his Medal of Honor for valor in World War II; SFC Littrell received his Medal of Honor for valor in the Vietnam War; SSG Jenkins received his Medal of Honor for valor in the Vietnam War; PFC West received his Medal of Honor for valor in the Korean War; and SGT Meyer received his Medal of Honor for valor in the War on Terror in Afghanistan.

The plaque includes the name of the first and only woman to earn the Medal of Honor, Dr. Mary Edwards Walker, of Louisville, who received her honor in the Civil War. She was not a member of the military, but served as a combat surgeon with such valor that the officers who served with her insisted she had earned the medal.

The breakdown of Kentucky’s 60 Medal of Honor recipients includes:
· 17 from the Civil War,
· 12 from Indian Campaigns,
· 3 during Peacetime,
· 3 during Wars of American Expansion (including the Spanish-American War),
· 1 during World War I,
· 8 during World War II,
· 7 during the Korean War,
· 8 during the Vietnam War, and
· 1 from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In 2011, legislation was sponsored by Rep. Tanya Pullin, of South Shore, that called for the creation of the plaque to honor Kentucky Medal of Honor recipients.

“Because Ernie West and John Collier are from Greenup County, we have a special connection in our community to the Medal of Honor,” Pullin said. “We, as a community, glow with pride that two of our own have received the Medal of Honor, the highest honor bestowed in the military of the United States.”

Pullin and Sen. Jack Westwood, of Erlanger, are the chairs of the Kentucky Interim Joint Committee on Veterans, Military Affairs and Public Protection.

“This is an historic occasion. This exceptional plaque memorializes our 60 distinguished heroes and will be proudly put on display and forever cherished by fellow Kentuckians for generations to come,” Westwood said. “Their service, sacrifice, and bravery are deeply appreciated. In their noble example, we see the virtues and the values that sustain America, that keep this country great. For all that these individuals have done, I offer my thanks.”

The plaque will hang in the Capitol Rotunda, opposite the statue of Abraham Lincoln, whose administration worked with Congress to create the Medal of Honor in 1862 to recognize acts of valor during the Civil War. For more information on the Medal of Honor, visit

Kentucky Medal of Honor Recipients

Civil War 1861-1865
CPT William P. Black, USA
PVT John C. Callahan, USA
SGT John S. Darrough, USA,
PVT John Davis, USA
Drummer William H. Horsfall, USA
PVT Aaron Hudson, USA
PVT John P. Hughey, USA
PVT Henry B. Mattingly, USA
SGT Francis M. McMillen, USA
Landsman Daniel Noble, USN
PVT Oliver P. Rood, USA
COL Charles W. Rundle, USA
SGT Andrew J. Smith, USA
PVT William Steinmetz, USA
Dr. Mary E. Walker, USA
MAJ John F. Weston, USA
COL James A. Williamson, USA

2Lt Thomas Cruse, USA
1SG William L. Day, USA
CPL John J. Givens, USA
PVT William M. Harris, USA
CPT John B. Kerr, USA
PVT Franklin M. McDonald, USA
PVT George D. Scott, USA
SGT Thomas Shaw, USA
PVT Thomas W. Stivers, USA
PVT Thomas Sullivan, USA
Saddler Otto E. Voit, USA
SGT Brent Woods, USA

Seaman Edward W. Boers, USN
Watertender Edward A. Clary, USN
Quarter Gunner George Holt, USN

COL J. Franklin Bell, USA
1Lt Benjamin F. Hardaway, USA
PVT James J. Nash, USA

WORLD WAR I 1917-1919
SGT Willie Sandlin, USA

World War II 1941 – 1945
Cpl Richard E. Bush, USMC
T/Sgt Morris E. Crain, USA
Pfc Leonard F. Mason, USMC
Pfc Wesley Phelps, USMCR
PVT Wilburn K. Ross, USA
Pfc Luther Skaggs Jr., USMC
SSG Junior J. Spurrier, USA
SGT John C. Squires, USA

Korean War 1950 – 1953
Capt William E. Barber, USMC
Pfc William B. Baugh, USMC
CPL John W. Collier, USA
1Lt Carl H. Dodd, USA
2Lt Darwin K. Kyle, USA
Pfc David M. Smith, USA
Pfc Ernest E. West, USA

Vietnam War 1961 – 1975
Sgt Charles C. Reek, USA
SSG Don Jenkins, USA
Pfc Billy L. Lauffer, USA
Sfc Gary L. Littrell, USA
2dLt John J. McGinty III, USMC
Pfc David P. Nash, USA
L/Cpl Joe C. Paul, USMC
SSG Jimmy G. Stewart, USA

Iraq/Afghanistan Wars 1991-present
SGT Dakota Meyer, USMC