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Editorial: Hall of fame suitable honor for Indiana’s vets

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The Indiana Military Veterans Hall of Fame is calling for nominations for its first group of honorees. But you need to make suggestions soon, as the deadline is approaching.

The objective of the nonprofit organization, founded last year, is to honor and provide support to Indiana military veterans and to educate others on their outstanding accomplishments.

Up to 15 veterans will be honored for military service achievements and/or community contributions. The first induction ceremony will take place Nov. 7 at the Garrison at Fort Harrison State Park in Lawrence.

To be eligible, a nominee must meet any one of these criteria: born in Indiana, entered military service from Indiana, or lived in Indiana for a minimum of eight years. All branches of the U.S. Armed Forces, all ages, living or deceased, and men and women will be considered equally.

There is no cost to nominate someone. While nominations will be accepted annually for inductees into the Hall of Fame, this year nominations are being accepted through Sept. 1. The nomination packet and criteria can be found at imvhof.com.

The hall of fame’s board of directors includes representatives from the business, government and retired military sectors. The chairman of the board, Col. Russell H. Dowden Jr., was inducted into the Arkansas Military Veterans Hall of Fame in 2011. Now a Hoosier, Dowden formed the idea of creating a similar organization in Indiana.

A fitting nominee would be the late Sgt. Joseph “Joey” Proctor. He was awarded the Silver Star after he was killed in Iraq. He died in May 2006 when a truck bomb exploded after he killed the driver. His heroic act saved dozens of lives.

Another local veteran worthy of induction is Maj. Gen. R. Martin Umbarger, adjutant general of the Indiana National Guard. He has served with distinction from the ranks on up over the course of his career. He has led Indiana’s Guard since 2004.

Umbarger began his career as an enlisted soldier for the Indiana Army National Guard in 1969. He was commissioned as a second lieutenant in June 1971 after graduating from the Indiana Military Academy.

A veterans hall of fame is a fitting salute to Hoosiers who have served the nation and the military with distinction. But any organizing committee needs broad-based involvement to make sure worthy honorees are not overlooked.

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