Retired Chief Warrant Officer 5 Ed Smith, of Jefferson City, Mo., receives the Vietnam War medal and certificate of appreciation for his service at a Veterans Recognition Ceremony for Vietnam-era Soldiers and Airmen at the Missouri National Guard Theater Aviation Sustainment Maintenance Group facility in Springfield, Mo. (Ann Keyes/Missouri National Guard)
By Ann Keyes
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. - Vietnam-era veterans were honored with medals, medallions and certificates of appreciation in an early morning ceremony at the Missouri National Guard Theater Aviation Sustainment Maintenance Group facility in Springfield.
Hosted by the Missouri Guard's 1107th Aviation Group, four men and one woman were honored, including retired Private 1st Class Jane Lannan and retired Sgt. 1st Class Robert Lannan, now married after meeting at advanced individual Army training in 1968.
Jane Lannan served stateside from 1969 to 1970 as a medic at Fort Riley, Kan., she said.
"I wanted to serve my country," Jane said. "I feel like we've been given rights; we should serve for those rights."
Staff Sgt. Jason Lannan, a member of the aviation group, worked to get his father and step-mother approved for recognition, he said, as most of Robert Lannan's records perished in a fire in St. Louis decades before.
"My dad does a lot with Veterans Affairs and serves as a volunteer," said Jason of his dad, a door gunner in Vietnam.
Retired Chief Warrant Officer 5 Ed Smith served 362 days in Vietnam where he piloted fixed-wing aircraft. After, in 1971, the Jefferson City resident joined the Missouri National Guard where he continued to fly and serve, deploying to Balad, Iraq in 2004.
"I always enjoyed the camaraderie of the Guard," said Smith. "I'm honored to receive this recognition."
Retired Chief Warrant Officer 2 Tony Wolfe was also given recognition for Vietnam service, although his medal of appreciation was not the first medal he's received. Wolfe earned two Purple Hearts as a gunship pilot, he said, as he was shot-down in a rocket attack and in the Tet offensive.
"This feels pretty good," said Wolfe of his newest medals. "It's nice to get this recognition."
The Missouri Veterans Recognition Program is traced to an April 23, 1919 act of the Missouri General Assembly. The act authorized the Missouri adjutant general to procure and present a medal to each member of the Missouri National Guard who served with a Missouri unit and veterans who served with the regular armed forces in the Spanish American War, Mexican Border Service or World War I.
The World War II awards program was announced in 2000, allowing every Missouri veteran and spouses of deceased veterans who honorably served during the period of Dec. 7, 1941 to Dec. 31, 1946, to apply for the award. To date, 44,442 World War II awards have been presented.
In 2003, the Korean War Veterans Award was authorized for veterans who served either in the United States or overseas from June 27, 1950 to January 31, 1955. To date, 15,149 Korean awards have been presented. In 2006, the Vietnam War award was authorized for veterans who served from February 28, 1961 to May 7, 1975. To date, 23,028 Vietnam awards have been presented.
Retired Staff Sgt. James Morgan received the Vietnam War medal and certificate of appreciation for his service as an Airman at the Veterans Recognition Ceremony in Springfield. The former T-38 Talon pilot served from 1966-70, he said, before enlisting in the Reserve component.
"I'm really honored by this," said Morgan. "I really appreciate everyone who serves today."
Following the recognition ceremony, the aviation unit held a retiree breakfast in an effort to foster mentorship between former and current military members.
"Exchanging stories and lessons learned is essential to growth and retention," said Maj. David Crocker, administrative officer for the aviation group. "The retirees are still part of the Guard family."
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Staff Sgt. Jason Lannan, of Willard, Mo., a member of the Missouri National Guard's 1107th Aviation Group, stands with his father and step-mother at a Veterans Recognition Ceremony in Springfield, Mo. Retired Private 1st Class Jane Lannan and Retired Sgt. 1st Class Robert Lannan received Vietnam War medals and certificates of appreciation for their military service. (Ann Keyes/Missouri National Guard)