Eleven Oklahoma veterans, including two with Stillwater ties, will be inducted into the Oklahoma Military Hall of Fame in October.
Also among the group is Oklahoma University All-American Robert “Bob” Kalsu, the only NFL player to be killed in action in the Vietnam war.
The ceremony will be Oct. 17 in Norman.
Among the inductees are a World War I soldier, a Special Forces Medic who was awarded the Medal of Honor 47 years after his heroism because he was on a classified Army mission in Laos, and a soldier who was a Ranger whose unit landed on Omaha Beach on June 6, 1944. Six of this year’s nominees are deceased.
Also, two Oklahomans will receive the Maj. Gen. Douglas O. Dollar Distinguished Public Service Award for promoting good citizenship, continued patriotism beyond military service and assistance to Oklahoma’s veterans and families.
Inductions will be held during ceremonies at the Embassy Suites Conference Hotel, 2501 Conference Dr., Norman.
Inductees are: Kalsu, Capt. Cloyce Vann “Chuck” Choney; Col. Gregory Dmitri Gadson; Capt. George Russell Miller, deceased; Tech. Sgt. Verdun Covert Myers, deceased; Pfc. Joseph Oklahombi, deceased; Capt. David Arthur Peters, deceased; Vice Admiral Sean Averell Pybus; Capt. Gary M. “Mike” Rose; Staff Sgt. Douglas J. Warden; Sgt. Lyndol Raye Wilson, deceased.
Dollar Awardees are Col. Levi Stanley L. Evans, Oklahoma City, and MaryAnn Ligon, Tulsa.
Vice Admiral Sean A. Pybus, (ret) was born Sept. 22, 1957, in Havre de Grace, Maryland. He grew up in Stillwater, has spent his life in the Navy.
A Navy Seal, his career was spent in overseas assignments.
Although born in Maryland, he grew up in Stillwater, which he and his wife consider their home.
Before retirement in 2016, Pybus served multiple Joint Special Operations duty assignments in Latin America, Europe, Africa, and Asia; later in command tours in Panama, Germany and Bahrain; as well as duty as Commodore, Naval Special Warfare (NSW) Group One, San Diego. Later he commanded Special Operations in the Pacific; the NSW Community; and NATO’s Special Operations Forces. Some of his career included classified contingency operations. He retired as a career Naval Special Warfare SEAL officer.
Pybus currently is president of The Pybus Groups of Odessa, Florida. In that role he consults and advises defense and security sector organizations, providing strategic recommendations and business development steerage to C-Suite leads. In January 2019, he was named Chair of the Board of Directors of the US Navy SEAL Foundation.
Capt. David Arthur Peters was born in Santa Monica, California, on Sept. 12, 1943. His family moved to Lawton when his father, a career soldier, retired.
Peters graduated from Lawton High School in 1961, from Cameron College in 1963, and from Oklahoma State University in 1965. He was an OSU ROTC Distinguished Military Student and later a Distinguished Military Graduate. He was commissioned June 7, 1963, as a 2nd Lt., Artillery. He was sent to Vietnam and assigned to Battery C, 1st Battalion, 77th Artillery of the 1st Cavalry Division.
On April 4, 1968, Peters was part of Operation Pegasus, a major combat action to break through and link up with Marine Corps forces defending Khe Sanh Combat Base, which was encircled by the enemy. He volunteered to search for fellow soldiers who had been wounded the previous night and needed medical evacuation. Peters had volunteered for similar missions before.
The aerial search was in marginal weather and in a high threat area. The helicopter he was on was hit by heavy enemy fire and crashed, killing Peters and four others.
He was awarded The Silver Star for heroism, posthumously. He also received the Bronze Star for outstanding meritorious service in connection with military operations against a hostile force in Vietnam during June 3, 1967 to April 4, 1968.
Peters other awards are The Combat Infantry Badge; the Purple Heart; Air Medal; Army Commendation Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Service Medal, Republic of Vietnam Campaign and Republic of Vietnam National Order 5th Class.
Captain Cloyce Vann “Chuck” Choney was born in Lawton, OK Nov. 13, 1944. He graduated from Lawton High School in 1963, Cameron Junior College in 1965, and Oklahoma State University in 1969 where he was commissioned as a 2nd Lt., Infantry, in January 1969. He now lives in Shawnee.
An enrolled member of the Comanche Nation, he also is of Kiowa Tribal Descent. Choney is the great grandson of Quanah Parker, the last recognized chief of the Comanche Nation and a Kiowa Tribal Soldier.
Choney served in Vietnam from January to December 1970 as a platoon leader in the 1st Battalion, 506th Infantry, 101st Airborne Division. He twice was awarded the Bronze Star with Valor Device for heroism and the Purple Heart for combat wounds for actions against North Vietnamese forces from May 1 to July 6, 1970.
His other awards include the Air Medal, Army Commendation Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster, Vietnam Service Medal with 4 campaign stars, and Vietnam Gallantry Cross with Palm.
Additionally, he has Parachutists Badges and Special Forces, Ranger, Pathfinder Airborne tabs and the Jungle Expert Patch.
In 1976, he became a Special Agent with the FBI and retired in 2001. His service included the Los Angeles Riots of 1992; the 1993 Waco Siege; the Montana Standoff, the Oklahoma City Bombing, the Kenya Africa Embassy Bombing in 1998.
Col. Gregory D. Gadson was born Feb. 19, 1966, in Oklahoma City. Shortly after his birth, his family moved to Virginia.
Gadson attended the United States Military Academy where he played football and maintained the high academic standards of West Point. He was commissioned a 2nd Lt., Atillery, and was assigned to Ft. Sill, OK. He was assigned Fire Direction Officer of a firing battery platoon, ensuring accurate, timely and safe firing data for 8-inch field artillery howitzers.
Later he was assigned to the National Training Center at Ft. Irwin, CA. He was deployed to Desert Shield/Desert Storm for battle against Iraqi targets. He would deploy to war on three more occasions, including Operation Joint Forge in the Balkans, Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan and Operation Iraqi Freedom in Iraq. On May 7, 2007, while returning from a memorial service for two soldiers from his brigade, he lost both his legs and his right arm was injured by a roadside bomb in Baghdad. After several surgeries and rehabilitation, Gadson became Director of the U.S. Army Wounded Warrior Program for two years.
After promotion to Colonel, Gadson made history as the first double amputee to assume command of a major Army installation program. He has spent some of his time as a motivational speaker.
Gadson’s medals include the Distinguished Service Medal; two awards of the Legion of Merit; three awards of the Bronze Star Medal, The Purple Heart. He now lives in Alexandria, VA.
Robert “Bob” Kalsu Navy Captain John Keilty, who nominated Kalsu, described Kalsu as a man of real character. Kalsu was born April 13, 1945, in Oklahoma City and grew up in Del City where he played football. He was recruited by Coach Bud Wilkinson in 1963.
Kalsu was part of OU’s football renaissance and in 1966 the Sooners were 6-4. He was drafted by the Buffalo Bills and was their rookie of the year.
At OU Kalsu went through Reserve Officer Training Corp (ROTC), which required a two-year active duty tour. In 1969 when he was scheduled to go on active duty for two years, the Bills urged him to find another way to complete his military obligation, Keilty said.
“I gave them my word,” Kalsu said, of going on active duty.
Kalsu was a member of Battery A, 2nd Battalion, 11th Artillery Regiment, 101st Airborne Division.
He was killed in action on July 21, 1970. He was 25.
Kalsu received the Bronze Star Medal the Purple Heart posthumously.
Capt. George R. Miller was born in Kenefic, OK in Bryan County on June 22, 1921. He attended local schools and upon graduating from High School, enlisted in the Oklahoma National Guard which was called into active duty Sept. 16, 1940. Miller was assigned to the 180th Infantry at Ft. Sill.
In 1942 he was sent to Officer Candidate School at the Infantry School, Fort Benning, Georgia. He volunteered for and was selected for the Rangers soon after the 5th Ranger Infantry Battalion was formed on Sept. 14, 1943. After extensive training, his unit was moved to England and Miller was put in command of D Company of the 5th Ranger Battalion.
On June 6, 1944, the 2nd and 5th Ranger Infantry Battalions landed on Omaha Beach, playing a key role in opening Omaha Beach and the surrounding area for the larger invasion forces. Miller received the Silver Star in December 1944 for his actions on Omaha Beach. Miller died Oct. 12, 1983.
Tech Sgt. Verdun Covert Myers was born June 23, 1919, in Tecumseh. He was inducted into the Army in March 1942.
Myers served with Co. G, 34th Infantry Regiment, 24th Division in New Guinea, The Philippines and Luzon. He was wounded in New Guinea and awarded the Purple Heart. He was awarded The Silver Star and an Oak Leaf Cluster for the Purple Heart for his actions in the Philippines.
On Oct. 20 and 21, 1944, he distinguished himself in action at Pawing, Leyte, Philippine Islands when the enemy attacked his unit’s position. The company was pinned down and the enemy advanced to within a few feet of American foxholes, throwing grenades. One landed in the foxhole occupied by Myers and two others, wounding all but Myers. Without regard for his safety, Myers evacuated his comrades one at a time despite heavy enemy fire.
The next day, the company attacked the enemy and Myers fought his way through shoulder deep swamp to warn another company that more Americans were behind him trying to fight their way through. His Silver Star citation notes that he exposed himself to enemy fire to direct and bring his men safely in.
When Myers returned home after the war, he was elected Sheriff of Pottawatomie County from 1947 to 1950.
Private 1st Class Joseph Oklahombi, a decorated soldier of World War I, was born in Bokchita, OK, McCurtain County, on May 14, 1895. When the United States entered World War I in 1917, Oklahombi registered for the draft and volunteered May 25, 1917. He and his fellow Choctaws entered military training. Oklahombi was assigned to Co. D., 141st Infantry 36 Division (Texas and Oklahoma National Guard). On Oct. 8, Oklahombi, a Choctaw code talker, and his unit were in trench warfare near St. Etienne in the Champagne Regions west of the Argonne Forest.
Their objective was more than 2,000 yards away. Oklahombi and 23 remaining men of Co. D. advanced 800 yards, holding their position for four days. Each was awarded the Silver Star and the French Croix de Guerre for gallantry.
When the war ended, Oklahombi came home. In 1942, at the age of 47, he registered for the draft. Oklahombi died April 13,1960 and is buried in Broken Bow.
Gary M. “Mike” Rose was born Oct. 17, 1947, in Watertown NY. He later lived in Lawton.
In 1970, Rose, a Special Forces Medic, was credited with treating between 60 and 70 wounded soldiers and saving many lives during Operation Tailwind, a secret mission into Laos. In that battle he used his own body to protect a wounded soldier while treating the soldier’s wounds. After stabilizing the soldier, Rose carried him through enemy fire to defensive positions, engaging the enemy while treating that soldier. At one point, he had to crawl from position to position to treat American, South Vietnamese, and Montagnard troops.
Injured during the battle, his foot crippled, he used a crutch to continue treating the wounded. Because the Laotian Mission was classified, his nomination for the Medal of Honor for his heroism was downgraded to a Distinguished Service Cross, which he received on Jan. 16, 1971.
In 1977, he graduated from Cameron University in Lawton with a Bachelor of Arts in Education and Military Science. He also earned a Master of Arts degree in Communications from the University of Oklahoma.
Rose retired from the Army as a Captain in May 1987.
In the late 1990s, an effort began to upgrade his Distinguished Service Cross to the Medal of Honor. Then Secretary of Defense Ash Carter approved the upgrade in 2016 and Alabama Representative Mo Brooks and Sen. Jeff Sessions wrote Roses’ name into the National Defense Authorization Act for 2017.
On Oct. 23, 2017, 47 years after his heroism, he was presented the Medal of Honor by President Donald Trump.
Staff Sgt. Douglas J. Warden was born in Prague, OK on April 14, 1947. The Shawnee resident became one of the most decorated soldiers in the 1st Battalion, 12th Calvary, 1st Calvary Division in Vietnam.
He was awarded the Soldier’s Medal, Bronze Star Medal for Valor, Two Silver Stars and three Purple Hearts during his service in Vietnam.
Warden earned his first Silver Star on May 31, 1967, during combat operations in An Qui when his company came into contact with a well-entrenched, numerically superior North Vietnamese Army force. One platoon was immediately pinned down and the others were engaged in an intense fire fight. Throughout the battle, Warden braved intense enemy automatic weapons fire to remain with his platoon leader, provided covering fire and excellent communications for him, killing two or more North Vietnamese Army soldiers from his exposed position. At times when his platoon was pinned down and surrounded, Warden stood up and charged several bunkers with the platoon leader.
He earned his 2nd Silver Star on Dec 15, 1967 for gallantry while engaged with an armed hostile force.
Warden distinguished himself serving as a squad leader with Co. C, 1st Battalion, 12th Cavalry. He deployed his men to avoid being pinned down. Then he led an assault on an anti-tank position and eliminated it. He also rescued a mortally wounded soldier.
He earned the Bronze Star on May 27, 1967 when he moved between a comrade and an enemy machine gunner and killed the gunner.
Sgt. Lyndol Raye Wilson was born April 2, 1949, in Okemah. He graduated from high school in May 1967 and joined the Marine Corps, becoming a member of H Company, 5th Marines.
When the enemy launched the Tet Offensive in 1968, Wilson fought in the deadly month long siege of Hue. He was awarded the Silver Star for his actions during this battle.
On February 3, 1968, as his unit was assaulting a well-entrenched and numerically superior North Vietnamese Army force near Hue University, they were halted temporarily by enemy fire including B-40 rockets. Wilson ran across a fire-swept street, climbed to the roof of a building and began firing his 3.5 inch rocket launcher and light antitank assault weapons on enemy positions, enabling his unit to maneuver toward its objective, his Silver Star citation said.
The following day his platoon was engaging the enemy and the squad leader was seriously wounded. Wilson immediately maneuvered to the man, picked him up and carried him to a covered position. Wilson then assumed command of the squad and led an assault, enabling Marines to seize their objective.
His Silver Star citation said his courage, aggressive fighting spirit and selfless devotion to duty in the face of great personal danger was an inspiration to his unit.
Besides the Silver Star, Wilson’s decorations include the Purple Heart; Combat Action Ribbon; National Defense Service Medal; Vietnamese Service Medal and Vietnamese Campaign Medal with Service Medal.
Wilson died October 8, 2016.
Col. Stanley Evans, who will receive the Maj. Gen. Douglas O. Dollar Award, is a decorated Vietnam Veteran who was reared in Oklahoma City. He graduated from Douglas High School in 1964. Evans entered the Army, serving for 32 years, rising to the rank of Colonel. Upon retirement, he attended the University of Oklahoma School of Law. Because of his outstanding scholastic and academic achievements in Law School, upon graduation he was chosen as Assistant Dean for Students. Under his leadership, minority enrollment at the law school increased 27 percent. He is a crusader for community youth.
Evan’s civic contributions to the citizens of Oklahoma City and the state include pro-bono legal and financial advice to many community and civic entities. Since returning to Oklahoma City, he and his wife Saundra have established an annual $1,000 scholarship for a community service minded Oklahoma City High School senior and an annual $4,000 scholarship to an OU student majoring in Journalism. Both are named in memory of their daughter, Lisa “Lee” Evans, an Oklahoma City television news anchor who was killed by a drinking driver in 1997.
Among his decorations ae the Legion of Merit, the Distinguished Service medal, four Meritorious Service Medals.
Mary Ligon, who also will receive the Maj. Gen. Douglas O. Dollar Award, is a Tulsan. When her son, Marine Cpl. Daniel Ligon returned home after his second Iraqi deployment, he struggled with PTSD, depression, sheer exhaustion, and a crumbled marriage. Cpl. Ligon committed suicide on June 10, 2007. Mrs. Ligon was convinced that if her son and others had been afforded a place to connect and support each other, this tragedy might have been averted. She rallied Tulsa leaders to establish a place for veterans.
In 2010, The Coffee Bunker was founded. Its mission is to support veterans, active duty military, National Guard, Reservists, and each’s family through personal and professional development.