Several area residents were inducted into the Kentucky Veterans Hall of Fame earlier this month.
The foundation, organized in 2010 by H.B. Deatherage, honors Kentucky military veterans and recognizes their community involvement following their military career.
An annual banquet is held to induct nominated and selected veterans into the hall of fame and award the Hall of Fame medallion recognizing their military service to the nation and to the Commonwealth of Kentucky. The inductees are selected for their valorous military service to the country and for their combined military/civilian service to their community, state and nation, the Kentucky Veterans Hall of Fame website said.
From Hardin County, three residents were inducted at the Marriott Griffin Gate Resort & Spa in Lexington. The event featured the induction of both the class of 2020 and the class of 2021.
Inducted with the class of 2020 was Spec. 5 Don Cecil, who served in the U.S. Army in Vietnam. He was nominated by Craig Schwab.
“It’s an honor,” Cecil said. “… Just to be nominated for the award is very humbling.”
According to the script provided by the Kentucky Veterans Hall of Fame, Cecil has long served his community, including membership in the Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) and American Legion and president of the PTA and member of the board at Vine Grove Elementary throughout his children’s grade school years. Additionally, Cecil is a former postmaster for Brandenburg and at one time spearheaded the renumbering of all the counties.
Cecil has been the co-chair of “Hooray for Heroes” event in Radcliff for 13 years, and he led Radcliff’s “Welcome Home Vietnam” ceremony in 2005. He also was involved in the construction and funding of a replica Vietnam Memorial Wall at the Elizabethtown Nature Park, which draws thousands of visitors annually.
“That was a great tribute to Hardin County and E’town,” he said.
Two other Hardin County residents, Sgt. First Class Robert Griffin and Sgt. Maj. David Best, were inducted with the class of 2021.
Griffin, who served in the U.S. Army as a combat photographer in Vietnam, was nominated by Dave Jarrett.
According to the script, Griffin has been proactive in veteran organizations such as VVA Gold Patriots, Calvary Division Association, Disabled American Veterans (DAV), American Legion, and Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW). His photography of veteran and community events is seen in local papers, calendars, and in history profiles. He published eight books of photos and contributed to three movie documentaries.
Additionally, Griffin was active in building the Mott’s Military Museum in Ohio and the replica Vietnam Memorial Wall in Elizabethtown, donates hand-made saber cases to veteran fundraisers for DAV, and much more.
“I didn’t get into doing what I do for awards,” he said, noting it was surprising for him. Griffin said there are so many veterans out there that are in dire straights when they should not be.
“To me it is very important to take care of these guys. I do what I can to help them,” he said.
Best served in the U.S. Army for 32 years. He served during Desert Storm with stints in Afghanistan and Iraq. He was nominated by Whitney Allen Jr.
When he retired from the military, Best began work for Humana and began getting involved in different veteran volunteer opportunities that were available, including Veterans Network Resource Group. He worked with veterans through career coaching and interview preparation for employment after military service.
That allowed him to expand his sphere of influence and help a larger group of people.
“I spent a lot of volunteer time just doing that going before different veteran organizations and working one on one with veterans to help them get employed,” he said. “… I am so happy to be able to do the work that I do. I am to have the skill set that I have so that I can contribute.”
A few other locally known names inducted into the class of 2021 include Lt. Col. Adrian Bambini of Daviess County and Maj. Alejandro Ramirez of Meade County.
Bambini served in the U.S. Army for 20 years in the Chemical Corps. He was nominated by Linda Bambini.
According to the script, for his extensive community service, Bambini was honored with the Louisville Bell Award for more than 1,500 hours of volunteerism in Radcliff during 2015.The script said he was a driving force in the development of the Saunders Springs Nature Preserve.
Ramirez, nominated by Robert Deckard, served in the U.S. Army during Desert Storm and Iraq.
Ramirez created the Kentucky Business Veteran Business Alliance, sharing entrepreneur expertise with veterans starting a business and those already in business, which has grown to more than 300 members since its inception. Additionally, the script said he has mentored more than 100 veterans in opening businesses, worked with veteran business owners, and helped veterans acquire jobs. In 2018, he was awarded the Veteran Owned Small Business of the Year in Kentucky and inducted into the Elizabethtown Community and Technical College Hall of Distinguished Alumni. He actively supports youth sports and veterans’ services.
For more information about the Kentucky Veterans Hall of Fame, visit kyveterans.com.