USO Tribute, Legacy Awards set to honor veterans Monday

ENID, Okla. — A free USO Tribute Tour concert and Legacy Awards ceremony will honor America's veterans Monday.

The concert and ceremony, organized by Woodring Wall of Honor and Veterans Park, is free to the public and will begin at 6:30 p.m. in the Grand Ballroom at Stride Bank Center, 301 S. Independence.

Elaine Johns, Woodring Wall of Honor executive director, said the USO Tribute Tour concert will recall USO tours that entertained troops around the world, dating back to World War II, with local musicians portraying iconic USO entertainers such as Bob Hope, Marilyn Monroe, Raquel Welch, Elvis Presley and others.

Other featured musicians include the Haynes Sisters, Mixed Company, Enid High School Jazz Choir and Orchestra, Bringing it Back Band and Adams Elementary School Choir.

The USO Tribute Tour also will honor several area veterans, one from each branch of service. The honored veterans, who served in World War II, Korea and Vietnam, will be announced at the event.

A presentation of the French National Order of the Legion of Honor also will be made by a representative of the French government to several veterans who served in France during World War II.

Also honored will be former Legacy Award honorees, including World War II veterans Rex Campbell, Bob Lovell, George Bellmon, R.D. Lawrence, Bill Estes, Watermelon Campbell, Don Edmonds, Morris Neighbors and Virgil Fussell, Vietnam veteran, John Adkinson along with Legacy Lifetime Achievement veterans Eric Benson, Patrick Healy, Jack Wagner and Bob Ford.

Johns said the purpose of the event is to honor those who have served, and keep the memory of their sacrifices alive for younger generations.

“Our country is strong and great today because of the legacy of these brave men and women," Johns said. "The values, courage, dedication and commitment they leave to our active duty military and fellow veterans is their legacy of freedom. We know to honor their extraordinary sacrifices we must all unite to keep the United States the world’s leading force for peace and security, prosperity and freedom.”

The mission of the Woodring Wall of Honor is to be "civilian ambassadors for our armed services, continuing the strong support that Enid shows its military armed forces," according to a press release. "Enid, Oklahoma leads the charge to honor these men and women and celebrate their accomplishments. The freedoms we enjoy today were bought and paid for with their devotion to duty and their sacrifices. They must not be forgotten."

The USO Tribute Tour is a free public event.

“I invite all the community to attend to thank these World War II, Korea and Vietnam veterans for their service,” Johns said.

Organizers ask that attendees bring an unwrapped toy or non-perishable food item to benefit a wounded warrior during the Christmas season. Toys will benefit both the Wounded Veterans of Oklahoma Christmas Mission and Toys for Tots.

For more information, call Johns at Woodring Wall of Honor at (580) 233-4530.

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Neal is health, military affairs and religion reporter and columnist for the Enid News & Eagle. Follow him on Twitter, @jamesnealwriter, and online at
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