Major General Mark H. Berry, Arkansas Air National Guard, Retired, Ozark. General Berry served four combat tours and his awards include the Distinguished Service Medal, the Legion of Merit, five Meritorious Service Medals, the Joint Services Commendation Medal, eight Air Force Commendation Medals and the Air Force Achievement Medal and the first Air Force General Officer to be appointed Adjutant General of the Arkansas National Guard and the first military officer to be appointed to the grade of Lieutenant General by the Governor of Arkansas. General Berry retired following forty-five years service.
Sergeant First Class Ralph Carder Ferguson, Arkansas Army National Guard, Retired, Fort Smith. Following graduation from Van Buren High School, 1985, Ralph enlisted in the United States Army Infantry. Sergeant Ferguson served two combat tours of duty: one in Operation Iraqi Freedom and the other in Operation Enduring Freedom. His awards include the Purple Heart, three Meritorious Service Medals, two Army Commendation Medals and six Army Achievement Medals. Following over twenty-years active duty, Sergeant Ferguson was transferred to the Retired Reserve, May 2006.
First Lieutenant Noel A. Harris, Jr., United States Army, deceased. 1964 alum of Strawberry High School and 1968 graduate of Arkansas State University, Jonesboro. Lieutenant Harris, commissioned in Infantry, was trained as a Bell AH-1 Cobra Attack Helicopter pilot and was assigned to the 1st Infantry Division, Vietnam, September 1969. He was Killed In Action, March 22, 1970. His awards include the Bronze Star Medal, three Air Medals, one with “V” device for valor, and two posthumous awards: the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Purple Heart. Lieutenant Harris is a member of the Arkansas State University ROTC Hall of Heroes.
Chief Warrant Officer Samuel Henry Phillips, III, United States Army, Retired, deceased, Van Buren. Sam graduated Old Miss and was commissioned in Field Artillery. He entered active duty in 1967 and served a combat tour with the 1st Cavalry Division, Vietnam where he logged more than one thousand two hundred hours of combat flying. Sam’s awards include the Silver Star, the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Bronze Star Medal and fifteen Air Medals, one with “V” device for valor, the Army Commendation Medal and two Army Achievement Medals. He was placed on the retired rolls April 2003.
Lieutenant Colonel Wilmer A. Plate, United States Air Force, Retired, deceased, Jacksonville. Colonel Plate was a World War II B-24 (Liberator) bomber pilot with the 489th Bomb Group, 8th Air Force, European Theater, May – August 1944. During this time he completed thirty-one combat missions, logging two hundred combat hours. During his thirty years service Colonel Plate logged over one
thousand flying hours and his awards include the Legion of Merit, the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Purple Heart, four Air Medals and two Air Force Commendation Medals. He retired from active service in December 1971.
Captain Virginia Lynn Starzy, United States Navy, Retired, second generation military, Locust Grove. Undergraduate degree from Arkansas Tech, Russellville, before entering the Navy. She earned two masters degrees while on active duty and following retirement, a Specialist in Education, Arkansas State University. Her military awards include the Defense Superior Service Medal, three Meritorious Service Medals, the Joint Service Commendation Medal, two Navy Commendation Medals and the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal. Captain Starzy retired following twenty-four years active Federal service.
Technical Sergeant William C. Toombs, Sr., North Little Rock. Sergeant Toombs enlisted in the Army Air Corps 31 October 1942. He was assigned as a flight engineer and top turret gunner with the 493rd Bomb Group, 8th Air Force, European Theater of Operations. Sergeant Toombs flew twenty missions in a B-24 Liberator before transitioning to the B-17 Flying Fortress. Then, having flown only four missions, 11 September 1944, with two of the four engines shot out they crash-landed in a Belgium turnip field. Sergeant Toombs’ military awards include the Distinguished Flying Cross and four Air Medals. He is an active member of the 8th Air Force and Distinguished Flying Cross organizations.