Dean E. Stoops of Mercer County, a retired chief warrant officer 5 with the U.S. Army, is one of 29 Kentucky military veterans from 16 counties inducted by the Kentucky Veterans Hall of Fame, the largest class in its history. Selected for their record of significant post-military community service on a local, state or national level, the class served in the U.S. Army, Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps, in conflicts from World War I through Operation Iraqi Freedom. Collective community service among the 29 honorees includes emergency response, veteran support, youth group mentoring, civic activities, education and outdoor recreation programs.
Inductees were escorted into a Grand Gala dinner by the Lexington Police Honor Guard and bagpipe ensemble. After their military service was briefly summarized, inductees were escorted to their tables by members of Pershing Rifle Company C-1 from the University of Kentucky.
Gov. Andy Beshear addressed the near-record crowd: “Veterans put country and people first”, he said. He praised National Guard units from Kentucky, Tennessee and West Virginia, as well as the Kentucky State Police and other first-responders, for saving lives when tornadoes and floods hit Kentucky. “I firmly believe Kentucky has the greatest National Guard in this country,” he said, adding that they stand ready to assist other states when needed. Lexington Mayor Linda Gorton, Kentucky Congressman Andy Barr and Kentucky Secretary of State Michael Adams also spoke. Other highlights from the evening were patriotic songs from soloists Gary Greisser (educator, speaker and KVHOF board member), Lt. Colonel April Brown (Kentucky Army National Guard) and Whit Whitaker (Executive Director, Lyric Theater). In a surprise move, KVHOF awarded its new Spirit Achievement Award to volunteers Gary Greisser, Judi Deatherage and Terry Vannarsdale for their steadfast support of KVHOF through several years.
During the induction ceremony, a Hall of Fame medal was presented to each veteran as their community service was narrated. They were also given an American flag flown over the U.S. Capitol. Framed medals were presented to stand-ins for deceased inductees. Afterwards, Judge Lindsey Hughes Thurston formally swore the class into the Kentucky Veterans Hall of Fame. The class plaque was unveiled, a replica of one now permanently displayed with earlier class plaques in the Kentucky Capitol building. Names will eventually be added to regional KVHOF monuments planned for installation around Kentucky
The Kentucky Veterans Hall of Fame Foundation is a 501(c)(3) organization started in 2010 by Florence businessman and Vietnam veteran H.B. Deatherage. Inductees are selected annually in January from nominations accepted year-round, with celebrations held in the host city of Lexington. To date, over 200 worthy veterans have been selected from 53 Kentucky counties, covering multiple conflicts and representing the United States Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard. Many inductees continue to volunteer throughout Kentucky and the nation. The Alumni Association funds scholarships awarded annually to high school students related to inductees.
For more information visit www.kyveterans.org.