13 local servicemen inducted in 2016 Georgia Military Veterans Hall of Fame honored

COLUMBUS, Ga. - One non-profit hopes to honor the efforts of a select number of local military servicemen. The Georgia Military Veterans Hall of Fame will induct 13 servicemen with ties to Columbus in November. The non-profit looks at three categories for applicants, including valor, service and achievement.

Monday, Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson recognized a few of the inductees whose service spans from World War II to Korea to Vietnam, to name a few. She presented them with a resolution that recognizes their achievements and their service to the community.

"So many of them have continued on to serve in our community, and that's what makes our veterans in this community so great," the mayor said. "When they retire here, they keep giving. They continue on in that service."

Jonnie Melillo Clasen's father Vincent is being posthumously honored with a Hall of Fame nod. The World War II veteran conducted dangerous missions in the Chinese-Burma theater during the war.

"He was out there representing Merrill's Marauders and the Rangers all over the state. He was like the Energizer Bunny," Clasen said. "If my dad had been alive, he would have said 'they're only doing this because I'm old.' It's very special because it's another way of keeping his memory alive."

"To be apart of this is to be apart of something greater and that will go on for years to identify those heroes that live right here in our own community," retired Sgt. Maj. Judson Gee said.

Gee is an honorary member of the Georgia Military Veterans Hall of Fame board.

"Real life heroes are the ones that lay their lives on the line to protect our liberties here in the United States," Gee said. "They're right here in their own backyard, and they don't even know it."

The induction ceremony is scheduled for Nov. 4. Anyone who wants to nominate a veteran, click here. There are two weeks left to nominate a veteran.

"About 1% of Americans actually serve in the military anymore," GMV HOF founder Paul Longgrear said. "And if we ever lose the military, we'll lose the rights that we have."


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