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Fort Smith veterans chosen for Hall of Fame

Fort Smith National Historic Site Parade Grounds. [National Park Service/Released]
September 30, 2019

Three combat helicopter pilots from Fort Smith are among the 15 in the state recently selected for induction to Arkansas Military Veterans Hall of Fame.

A ceremony will be held Nov. 2 in Little Rock with U.S. Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark., presenting the Hall of Fame medallions. Ten inductees will be recognized for valor and five inductees will be recognized for public service.

All three inductees from Fort Smith served in the U.S. Army as combat helicopter pilots in the Vietnam War: retired Capt. Tollie Adkins Jr.; retired Lt. Col. Billy B. Dooly; and retired Chief Warrant Officer 3, Robert A. Johnson.

Adkins served one combat tour in Vietnam. His awards include the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Bronze Star Medal, the Purple Heart and seven Air Medals.

Dooly served two combat tours in Vietnam. His awards include the Distinguished Flying Cross, two Bronze Star Medals, the Meritorious Service Medal and the Army Commendation Medal.

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Johnson served two combat tours in Vietnam. His awards include the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Bronze Star Medal, the Meritorious Service Medal and twenty-four Air Medals, one with “V” device.

Dooly, a former Fort Smith Regional Chamber of Commerce president, said he and Adkins flew in some of the same Vietnam combat operations but in different infantry units.

“It is a complete honor to be selected,” Dooly said Wednesday. “It’s an honor to even be considered.”

The veterans will be formally inducted during the Military Veterans Hall of Fame annual banquet, 6:30 p.m. Nov. 2, at the Embassy Suites in Little Rock. Their plaques will be installed in the Arkansas Military Veterans Hall of Fame display on the second floor of the Arkansas Capitol.

About 130 Arkansans who have served the nation are honored in the display. Many of them gave the ultimate sacrifice.

The group that oversees the hall of fame is a Conway-based nonprofit organization with a sole mission “to recognize Arkansas military veterans for their exceptional service to their country, state, and communities.”

Although physically installed in November 2017 next to the Arkansas Treasurer’s Office, the hall of fame’s first inductees were named in 2011 and include both some well-known veterans like World War II Marine combat radio operator and two-term Arkansas Gov. Dale Leon Bumpers of Charleston, and some not-so-well-known war heroes like Logan Garrett Brown of El Dorado, who is credited with saving his 39th Infantry Brigade platoon during an ambush in Iraq.

Designed by architect and U.S. Navy veteran John E. Lane of Fort Smith, the Arkansas Military Veterans Hall of Fame was the 10th such memorial in the United States. Two of the Arkansas hall of fame inductees went on to create similar state military veterans halls of fame in Georgia and Indiana.

Tickets for the banquet are $55. A table for 10 can also be reserved for $500 by calling The Arkansas Military Veterans’ Hall of Fame at (501) 902-9706.

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© 2019 Times Record