EDMOND — EDITOR’S NOTE: Look for individual profiles of the Edmond-area inductees during the coming weeks. Vietnam Ace Charles B. DeBellevue will be profiled in Saturday’s Edmond Sun Weekender.
Four Edmond-area residents with distinguished military careers will be inducted into the Oklahoma Military Hall of Fame later this year.
Each year, the Oklahoma Military Heritage Foundation selects 10 Oklahomans to be inducted into the Oklahoma Military Hall of Fame. Nominees must have a military record that includes heroic or extraordinary leadership action, service or sacrifice, have civilian public service or patriotic service and an established connection to the state.
This year’s event will be at 6:30 p.m. Nov. 9 at Quail Creek Golf and Country Club, 3501 Quail Creek Road in Oklahoma City. The Oklahoma Military Hall of Fame’s Class of 2012 consists of:
• Col. Charles B. DeBellevue, of Edmond, became the first Air Force weapon systems officer to be a flying “Ace” after shooting down six MiGs, the most by any U.S. aviator during the Vietnam War. On May 10, 1972, he and then-Capt. Steve Ritchie, the pilot, shot down their first of four MiG-21s. On Sept. 9, 1972, flying with Capt. John Madden, they shot down two MiG 19s. His awards include the Air Force Cross, three Silver Stars, three Legions of Merit and six Distinguished Flying Crosses.
• Capt. Boyd L. “Bo” Barclay, who lives in the Deer Creek area, was co-pilot of a UH-1E (Huey) on a recon mission near Khe Sanh, South Vietnam in June 1968 when he landed his helicopter after it had come under intense automatic weapons fire, killing the pilot and severing his left hand. He was awarded the Silver Star, Purple Heart and Air Medal.
• Maj. Gen. Rita Aragon, of Edmond, the first female Oklahoma Secretary of Military and Veterans’ Affairs, was the first female commander of the Oklahoma Air National Guard, the first female to command a state’s Air National Guard and the first female of Native American ancestry to become a general officer.
• Lt. Col. Orville O. “Bill” Munson, who died June 14, lived in the Edmond area. His unit, the 48th Engineer Combat Battalion, went to North Africa in 1943, then to Italy, made the invasion of southern France on D-Day and finally went on to Germany. In 2011, the French government invested him as a member of their Legion de Honour in the rank of Chevalier in gratitude for his exceptional service to the nation of France. He received four Purple Hearts for wounds suffered during WWII and Korea.
• Capt. John Lee Prichard, who was born in Oklahoma City in 1939, died in Vietnam while leading his Marine unit against an enemy force much larger than his unit. Upon graduation from the U.S. Naval Academy, he was commissioned in the U.S. Marine Corps. The football field at the Naval Academy is named Prichard Field in his memory.
• U.S. Army Cavalry scout Amos Chapman, another scout and four 6th U.S. Cavalry soldiers put up valiant resistance while protecting their wounded until they were recovered by a relief force when they were attacked in September 1874 by 125 Indians near Gageby Creek, Indian Territory. He would lose his left leg from injuries during the battle that became known as the Buffalo Wallow Fight. He died in 1925 and was buried in Dewey County.
• Maj. Kenneth D. Bailey, who was born in Pawnee, led his Marines in an attack against the Japanese at the Matanikau River on Guadalcanal in 1942. His company was threatened on the right flank by the penetration of the enemy into a gap in the line. His unit repulsed the threat, his Medal of Honor citation reads. Despite a severe head wound, he repeatedly led his troops in fierce hand-to-hand combat for 10 hours. He was killed during that battle on Sept. 26, 1942.
• Command Sgt. Maj. Everett Bagley Jr., who joined the Oklahoma National Guard, moved through heavy enemy fire locating and provided medical aid to four soldiers during a firefight on Jan. 9, 1967, along a jungle trail near Kontum, Vietnam. While saving their lives, he was wounded by an enemy hand grenade. For this action, he was awarded the Silver Star and Purple Heart.
• Capt. Vincent A. Kimberlin, who joined the Army at Fort Sill in 1937, killed the enemy in a machine gun position and five others who attempted to put the gun back in action after his company captured a heavily fortified ridge on Feb. 12, 1945 in Zig-Zag Pass near Olongapo, Luzon. For his heroism, which saved lives and inspired his men to defeat the enemy, he was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross. He was also wounded during the Korean War.
• Choctaw Code Talkers of World War I and WWII left a lasting legacy for the Choctaw Nation, the state of Oklahoma and the nation. They were the first Native Americans to use their native language on the battlefields against the German Army in World War I and again, briefly, in World War II. Choctaw soldiers pioneered the use of Native American languages as a military code.
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