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Distinguished military veterans group includes ASU alumni

Published: Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Updated: Thursday, November 10, 2011 14:11

Three area military veterans with ties to Arkansas State University and Jonesboro are among 15 Arkansans selected for induction into the Arkansas Military Veterans Hall of Fame (AMVHOF) for the year 2011. They will be recognized during induction ceremonies at the Hall of Fame annual banquet Nov. 11 at the Agora Center in Conway.

The three are Walker E. "Gene" Conrad of Jonesboro, Russell H. Dowden of New Palestine, Ind., and Jerry W. Bowen of Jonesboro.

An independent committee of veterans chaired by a Brigadier General and overseen by the Arkansas Office of Veterans Affairs selected the 15 veterans.

Walker E. "Gene" Conrad served in World War II, earning a Distinguished Flying Cross and three air medals. He was also a prisoner of war in 1944. Conrad attended Nettleton High School before leaving to work with the Civil Conservation Corporation. He was then drafted.

Col. Russell H. Dowden, Jr. is a Distinguished Military Graduate from ASU in 1962 with a BS degree in accounting and a commission in the field artillery. He went on to serve in Vietnam, where he was awarded the Silver Star, the nation's third highest award for valor in combat. He also received the Defense Superior Service Medal, the Legion of Merit and the Purple Heart. Dowden also served during Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm.

Col. Jerry Bowen received his BSA degree in Agriculture Education from ASU in 1964 and his MBA in 1973. He served two combat tours in Vietnam; saw combat with the 82nd Airborne Division in the Dominican Republic, received the Combat Infantryman Badge and was twice decorated with the Legion of Merit and Bronze Star. He is the retired Undersecretary of Memorial Affairs, United States Department of Veterans Affairs.

1. William O. Darby, Fort Smith (WWII, Two Distinguished Service Crosses, Darby's Rangers)

2. James L. Hughes, Magnolia (Vietnam, Three Distinguished Flying Crosses, POW1967-1973, Air   Medal)

3. William L. Russell, Fayetteville (WWII and Korea, Silver Star, Eight Purple Hearts)

4. Mark Douglas Diggs, Little Rock (Vietnam, Bronze Star, Two Purple Hearts)

5. Donald Erivan Grigg, El Dorado (Vietnam, Silver Star, Bronze Star, Two Purple Hearts)

6. Bernard Dunn, Louann  (WWII, Two Distinguished Flying Crosses, Four Air Medals, "Ace" Pilot)

7. Walker E. Conrad, Jonesboro (WWII, Distinguished Flying Cross, Three Air Medals, POW 1944)

8. Orie F. Morgan, El Dorado (WWII, Bronze Star for Valor, Purple Heart)

9. Burnice E. Rose, Mulberry (WWII and Vietnam, Two Bronze Stars, Purple Heart, Two Air Medals)

10. Russell H. Dowden, New Palestine, Ind. (Vietnam, Silver Star, Two Legions of Merit, Purple Heart)

Five inductees were honored for both military and community service and veteran support work in the State:

11. Andy F. Aldridge, No. Little Rock (Korea, Purple Heart, Korean Service Medal, United Nations Medal)

12. Freeman Owens, Pine Bluff (WWI, Good Conduct Medal, Invented 200 Motion Picture patents)

13. Jerry W. Bowen, Jonesboro (Vietnam, Two Legions of Merit, Two Bronze Stars, Military Officers Association)

14. Lex E. Davis, Sherwood (Vietnam, Bronze Star, Purple Heart, Wheel Chair Special Olympics)

15. James C. Johnson, Van Buren (Korea and Vietnam, Legion of Merit, Bronze Star, Uniform Auto License Plates).

"We are extremely gratified to be able to permanently recognize such a high caliber slate of inductees," said Conrad Reynolds (Colonel U.S. Army Retired), director of the Arkansas Military Veterans Hall of Fame. "These veterans have represented Arkansas magnificently with their service.  Their accomplishments need to be honored and their stories told."

 The inductees will receive a medallion. Tickets to the banquet may be purchased by calling the AMVHOF office at 1-888-329-3845. The public is also encouraged to submit nominations of worthy Arkansans for the 2012 class of inductees. Nomination forms may be secured through the Hall of Fame website at<>

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