A group of Oklahoma's finest are honored for their heroism. Decorated soldiers from past wars were inducted into the Oklahoma Military Hall of Fames on Saturday, their stories a part of our state's history.
This year, 10 soldiers were selected for the individual honor. Inductees include soldiers who risked or lost their lives for their fellow comrades.
“I was assigned to what was called Charley Troop, 3rd squadron, 4th cavalry,” said Army Specialist 5 Dwight W. Birdwell, one of the inductees.
Birdwell joined the Army right out of high school and then volunteered to go to Vietnam in 1967.
“Day in, day out, it was just a survival situation,” he remembers. “Am I going to make it through the 24 hours or is this going to be the day.”
His unit lost more than 70 men. He earned two Silver Stars for gallantry and two Purple Hearts.
“When you go through something like that,” he said, "you're never the same. You see things different."
A practicing attorney for nearly 42 years, Birdwell told his story to a small crowd at the Embassy Suites Hotel in Norman, ahead of his induction ceremony into the Oklahoma Military Hall of Fame.
“The challenges he faced in life and yet,” said Retired Army Maj. Gen. Doug Dollar, founder of the Military Hall of Fame, "what he's accomplished, I think that's an inspiration to young people."
Birdwell is among 10 inductees this year. They are Staff Sergeant George D. Keathley, Specialist 4 Edward Allen DeVore Jr., Chief Warrant Officer 5 Terry L. Frabott, Lieutenant Colonel Walter E. Price, Sergeant Major Eugene Rockholt, Captain Peter C. Rollins, Colonel Tom J. Rounsaville, Colonel Jerry Wayne Shipman and Command Sergeant Major Robert A. White.
“They're an inspiration,” Dollar said, "and when you've worked with it, it's like you've touched history."
Since 1999, the foundation has honored 179 soldiers. Their stories remain on display at the Oklahoma History Center.
“The stories that they have are valuable lessons for all Oklahomans,” he said, "and I think it can make Oklahomans proud."
The foundation also honors a group each year and this year it's the Oklahoma National Guard.