VOICES: The Greene County Veterans Hall of Fame and what we must not forget

File Photo: Kathy Platoni, Psy.D., retired U.S. army colonel and Fort Hood shooting survivor, gives Memorial Day address at the Dayton National Cemetery Memorial Day ceremony, Monday, May 30, 2016.

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File Photo: Kathy Platoni, Psy.D., retired U.S. army colonel and Fort Hood shooting survivor, gives Memorial Day address at the Dayton National Cemetery Memorial Day ceremony, Monday, May 30, 2016.

It has become too easy to disrespect, disregard, and dismiss our Veterans. A 2021 census report indicated that 7 percent of our adult population are Veterans, from World War II through the Global War on Terrorism. We can ill afford to ignore the immeasurable accomplishments of Armed Forces Veterans who have continued to serve their communities with honor and valor through volunteerism, advocacy, professional distinction, humanitarian service and philanthropy.

This is why 26 inductees were honored at the April 30 Greene County Veterans Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony. Inductees included national heroes such as:

  • Lieutenant General (RET, USAF) Dick Reynolds, who has amassed a record of valiant service, now as Chairman of the Dayton Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center Fisher House fundraising committee, among countless other examples of dedicated charitable work for thousands in need.
  • Major General Ed Mechenbier, recipient of the Air Force Distinguished Service Medal, two Distinguished Flying Crosses and the Silver Star, and who also served for more than 44 years.
  • COL (RET) Cassie Barlow, former Commander of Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and who currently dedicates her life to virtually every Veterans initiative known to humankind.
  • Chief Warrant Officer Jo Wildman, who became the first woman to advance to Chief as a Fire Control Technician, the first woman commissioned as Chief Warrant Officer in the Weapons Specialty, who served in both the United States Navy and The United States Coast Guard, and who has devoted every day of her life to meeting the needs of women Veterans from sea to shining sea, as well as serving on the Ohio Women Veterans Advisory Committee, the Greater Cincinnati Women’s American Legion Post 644 and the Dayton National Cemetery Honor Squad, not to mention the Humane Society of Dayton and endless other endeavors.
  • Linda Strite Murnane, who, since her military retirement, was selected for a United Nations position in The Netherlands to support the international judiciary in pursuing war crimes against Yugoslavia and who continues to provide pro bono legal services to Veterans in her local community.

Yes, the ceremony was magnificent in every sense of the word, thanks to the undying efforts of Tim Espitch, Executive Director of Greene County Veterans Services, Deborah Crawford of Greene County Veterans Services, and Tim Spradlin, VFW Commissioner for Greene County Veterans Services, in addition to many others who made this extraordinary event possible. As a member of the inaugural class, I will remain eternally grateful for being selected as an honoree. What I have accomplished recedes far into the background next to the elite of my home county for the last 35 years. I am humbled to stand among them. Thanks are insufficient for this unsurpassed honor.

For those who are inclined, please take a moment to read the biographies of the Greene County Veterans Hall of Fame honorees on the greenecountyohio.gov website and to pay homage to those who have given their lives for noble deeds far beyond what most will ever offer up to the banquet table of military service, standing for something far greater than themselves. Thank you for allowing me to walk among these heroes and for the blessing of still having the feet to do it.

Dr. Kathy Platoni, Psy.D., DAAPM, FAIS, COL (RET), US Army is a member of the Ohio Veterans Hall of Fame and the Greene County Veterans Hall of Fame.

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