Event to fete Medal of Honor candidate
The event will feature presentations by Col. Dave Ferre, new director of the Oregon Military Department; Jerry Wilson, Yamhill County’s veterans services officer; Jim Weidner, the county’s state representative; and Vance Day, an Oregon judge. Howitzer and honor guard salutes are planned and a swing band has been booked to provide music.
A member of the Oregon National Guard, DeWitt followed up on his heroic World War II service by serving in Korea and Vietnam, rising to the rank of lieutenant colonel along the way.
He was nominated for a Medal of Honor, America’s highest service award, for his WWII actions in single-handedly defending the U.S. position in Papua New Guinea against a massive entrenched Japanese fortification. But he never received the award.
Weidner brought the matter to the attention of Oregon legislators, who this year passed a resolution asking Congress to reconsider DeWitt’s case. Should he receive his honor, he will be the first Oregon National Guard member to be awarded the Medal of Honor since the Spanish-American War, according to Weidner’s office.
DeWitt has said he will donate the medal to the Oregon National Guard Museum in honor of all Oregonians who also serve under the 41st Sunset Infantry banner.
Organizers of the Aug. 11 event are also trying to raise money to erect a statue of DeWitt somewhere in McMinnville, at an estimated cost of about $20,000 to create and place the statue.
Proceeds from sales of a special brew from the Granary District’s new brewery, Grain Station Brew Works, will go toward the statue project. Donations may also be made directly by visiting www.real-heroes.us.