New class of veterans inducted into Madison County Hall of Heroes
MADISON COUNTY, Ala. – Seven war veterans who put their lives on the line protecting their country were inducted into the Madison County Military Hall of Heroes.
The seven were inducted Nov. 8 and honored during the Veterans Day parade Monday in downtown Huntsville.
Here are this year’s inductees:
Army Chief Warrant Officer Robert Davis is a Vietnam veteran who received the Distinguished Flying Cross, two Air Medals with valor and a Purple Heart.
Davis said he got his Purple Heart about a week after going to Vietnam, while he was flying a Huey.
"We were landing into a field that had high reeds in it, and unfortunately, a Vietcong guy had run into the field out of the village when he heard us coming to hide," Davis said. "And we were almost going to land on top of him so he popped up in front of us and aimed and shot."
Davis said he was hit in the leg, and medics bandaged it so he could get back to flying. After that, he said he convinced the Army to put him in a Cobra attack unit so "I could shoot back."
Lt. Col. Charles "Skip" Gill served in Vietnam and was awarded the Silver Star, Bronze Star with valor, Air Medal with valor, the Army Commendation Medal with valor and a Purple Heart.
Gill spent 23 years in the military, enlisting right out of high school.
Gill said in the field in Vietnam, he was put in charge of his troop after his commander was wounded by mortar and rocket fire. His company found an enemy camp the next day, and the conflict that day earned him his Silver Star and Purple Heart.
"But it was all the other young men that you live with day in and day out that really were responsible for the actions that took place," Gill said. "They're the ones that need to be recognized, because they were great young men."
Col. Dave Roesler is a Vietnam veteran who received the Army's Silver Star, Bronze Star with valor, Army Commendation with valor and Purple Heart.
Roesler entered the Army in 1959 and stayed in until retiring in 1990. During his time, he served all over the world.
Roesler went to Vietnam as a supply officer and then because commander of a troop. During the Tet Offensive, his unit went after an enemy battalion trying to get out of Tam Ky into the mountains.
"And in we went, and the first thing that happened was we got into it, bad," Roesler said.
He was awarded his Silver Star as a result of that day.
"Today I care most about the seven I didn't bring home alive," he said. "And I grieve them to this day."
Sgt. Maj. Eugene Cope served in Vietnam and received the Soldier's Medal, the Army Commendation with valor and five Purple Hearts.
Cope was in the Army's bomb disposal program in Vietnam during 1968 and 1969.
"I was an instructor at the school, and I taught all about what to expect when you get to Vietnam," Cope said. "I got over there and it was just like I said it was, except it was a hundred times more bad than what I was telling them about."
The dangerous job of bomb disposal in Vietnam meant Cope and others risked their lives removing booby traps and IEDs so soldiers could get into an area. He said he was shot many times, but five were serious enough to warrant his Purple Heart medals.
"As far as we were concerned, we were the elite of the elite," he said. "You know you had to do your job well, and you still had a good chance of getting killed or getting wounded. I was lucky I walked away."
- Col. Michael Ray Williams served during Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom and received the Air Medal with valor and Purple Heart.
Col. Curtis Donald Potts served in the Army during Operation Iraqi Freedom and received the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Joint Service Commendation Medal with valor.
- Staff Sgt. Jewell Toney served in the Air Force during the Korean War and received the Distinguished Flying Cross. Toney passed away March 27, 2019.