Archive for Wednesday, January 17, 2001

Medal winners honored again

January 17, 2001

The state's two veterans who have been awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor have been honored again.

Last Wednesday, Sheila Walker, director of the Kansas Division of Vehicles, presented Medal of Honor license plates to Roger Donlon and Charles Hagemeister, both of Leavenworth.

The new tags are the result of state legislation passed during the 1997 legislative session. Only recipients of the award may receive the tags.

Don Biggs, former state senator from Leavenworth, introduced the men, and noted that there have been only 3,408 Medal of Honor recipients since 1862, when the Army established the award. Today, 140 Medal of Honor recipients are living and only two of those are in Kansas.

The Medal of Honor is meant to distinguish those who have shown extreme bravery in action, or under fire.

Donlon, who served in Vietnam, was cited for directing defense operations during a Dec. 17, 1964, five-hour barrage of enemy mortar shells, falling grenades and heavy gunfire.

Although sustaining multiple wounds, Donlon pulled other wounded men to safety and ensured the removal of needed ammunition from a blazing building.

Hagemeister, who also served in Vietnam, was cited for March 20, 1967, actions when he raced through a hail of enemy fire to provide medical aid to wounded American soldiers and to kill enemy soldiers.

Both Donlon and Hagemeister said they appreciate the license plates, but said the plates, as well as the medals, aren't just for them.

"We don't wear the medal just for ourselves," Hagemeister said. "We wear it also for those who didn't come back."

Donlon said, "This is for all in the past, present and future, who wore uniforms and who stood honorably, willing to make sacrifices.

Donlan said he would put the license plate on the family van. And Hagemeister said he had a new PT Cruiser on order and would install the tag on that.

Recipients of the new license tag will not have to pay a yearly license tag fee, but will continue to pay property tax on the vehicle, Donlan said.

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