Veteran. Prisoner of war. Purple Heart recipient. Dawsonian. And next month, a member of the Kentucky Veterans Hall of Fame.
All of those achievements belong to Dudley Riley, a Dawson Springs native who was a staff sergeant in the Army during World War II, when he was captured by the Germans. Riley now resides in the Joseph "Eddie" Ballard Western Kentucky Veterans Center in Hanson.
Riley, 96, was announced Tuesday, Aug. 6, as one of 25 inductees into the Hall
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of Fame. The announcement was made at a ceremony in the Capitol Rotunda in Frankfort. As a gift, Gov. Matt Bevin presented special edition coins to the inductees-elect.
In March, Diana Luck, a volunteer with the Woman's Club of Madisonville, Tammy Caudill, who works in the activities department at the veterans center, and Linda Richards, a friend of Riley's, submitted a nomination for Riley for the honor. The women wrote in the nomination package that "he is extremely deserving and would represent the Hall of Fame and Kentucky well."
His friends and his daughter and son-in-law, Pam and Loren Henderson, attended the ceremony.
"We had a great day," Luck said. "He was quite the celebrity because of his service and age."
"I ... appreciate all the attention that we have been able to get," Riley told television reporters following the group's announcement.
The inductees will officially become members of the Kentucky Veterans Hall of Fame at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 7, during a ceremony at the Lexington Griffin Gate Marriott Resort and Spa. A reception and dinner for alumni and inductees will be at the hotel the night before.
The Hall of Fame class is the sixth for the organization. Riley's class represents all branches of the government and 13 counties in the Commonwealth.
"Our organization exists to honor the sacrifice of these men and women who have devoted their lives to community and country," said H.B. Deatherage, founder and president of the Kentucky Veterans Hall of Fame. "We are grateful for our veterans and what they have done. This is one way we can show our appreciation to them."
With the exception of the 2018 class, Hopkins County has been represented in each class. The first class of Hall of Famers were inducted in 2014 and Parvin Gibbs, Madisonville, was selected for the class. In 2015, four Hopkins Countians were inducted: Eddie Adcock, Nebo, Richard Frymire, Madisonville, Rudy Stone, Madisonville, and Aubrey Walker, Madisonville. John C. Thorpe, Hopkins County, was inducted with the 2016 class. The next year, Shawn Vanlue, Nebo, was inducted.
Cities and counties in Kentucky have the opportunity to become a Kentucky Veterans Hall of Fame City or County. The requirements include always supporting and showing gratitude for those in the Armed Forces and to nominate at least one military person deceased or alive from their community.
The city of Madisonville made a proclamation at its meeting Aug. 5 to become a Kentucky Veterans Hall of Fame in partnership with Hopkins County. The fiscal court read the proclamation at its Aug. 6 meeting.
For more information, visit www.kyveterans.org.