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EDWARD L. BISHOP, U.S. ARMY

When Edward L. Bishop was lying in Maryland’s Walter Reed Hospital, nearly his entire body covered in the burns he suffered when helicopter fuel exploded in Vietnam, he was told he would never walk again.

But after spending six months in the hospital, Edward– a U.S. Army veteran – not only regained the use of his legs, but he remarkably went on to spend 30 years as mail carrier with a walking route in Cincinnati’s Over The Rhine neighborhood.

“My dad is always doing things for others – strangers and friends alike,” said Bishop’s daughter, Dawn DiVita. “He gave up a lot to serve this country and I thought he would enjoy having a banner in his honor. I knew it would make him happy. He overcame a lot of odds and has gone on to serve his community every day.”

Edward, an only son, should probably never have been drafted. During the Vietnam War, many only sons were not drafted into military service. But he was drafted into the U.S. Army, achieving the rank of E2.

After first learning that he would be trained as a clerk, Edward was mistakenly trained to repair helicopters. It was while serving in Vietnam that he suffered burns over 70 percent of his body when a supply of helicopter fuel exploded near where he was working.

“The Army told my grandmother that he would not survive,” Divita said.

Edward, who received skin grafts to his legs, overcame his injuries and spent his career as a mail carrier. He now has a hobby of scrapping metal and donates half of the money he earns to feeding the homeless in Covington.

NORMAN BLANKENSHIP, U.S. AIR FORCE; BEN BLANKENSHIP, U.S. ARMY

Service to country runs deep in the Blankenship family.

Randy Blankenship is honoring two veterans with banners: His father, Norman Blankenship, who joined the U.S. Air Force after graduating from Lloyd High School in 1950; and his son, Ben Blankenship, a 2011 Lloyd graduate who enlisted in the U.S. Army after spending two years at The University of Kentucky.

“My Dad was always proud of his military service,” Randy said. “Dad passed away in December 2020.  This seemed to be an appropriate way to honor his service and his memory. “

Randy said his son, motivated by the 9/11 attacks, had wanted to join the military since he was 8 years old.  “He enlisted during the War on Terror, as he was committed to serving our Country,” Ben’s father said.

Norman was on active duty in the Air Force from 1950 to 1954 and stationed in Germany, serving mostly in an administrative capacity.  He was part of the Occupying Forces that were stationed in Germany in the aftermath of World War II.

Following his active duty service, Norman spent eight more years as member of the Air Force Reserves.

Following his military service, Norman worked at the Uranium Enrichment Plant in Portsmouth, Ohio, which is about 100 miles east of Northern Kentucky.

“He lived in Portsmouth during the week and stayed in Erlanger on the weekends,” Randy said. “He and my Mom married in 1954 and were together until he passed away in December 2020.”

Norman served in music ministry at many churches throughout Northern Kentucky and worked at A & S Electric in Erlanger until he retired about 15 years ago.

Ben attended his Basic Training at Fort Benning, GA.  He then went to “jump school” for paratroopers, also at Fort Benning. After that, he was assigned to the 82nd Airborne at Fort Bragg, NC. Ben served from 2014 to 2019 with a rank of Specialist.

“Ben was a paratrooper with the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division, stationed at Fort Bragg. He was assigned, for part of the time, to the 82nd’s Global Response Force.  The GRF was designed for rapid response to emergencies.”

On more than one occasion Ben was injured when another paratrooper collapsed his parachute, causing him to hit the ground with too much force. Those injuries have prevented him from further military service.

Shortly before his discharge from the military, Ben got married. His wife is a ER doctor, presently serving at a hospital in Jackson, Tenn. Ben is currently attending the University of Memphis, majoring in science and hopes to go on to medical school.

Though he is no longer able to serve in the military, Ben still wants to help military veterans by going to medical school.

“During his service, he saw the traumatic effects of combat, both physically and emotionally,” Randy said. “A few people with whom he served suffered from PTSD and committed suicide.  Ben hopes to become a doctor and dedicate at least some of his time to serving veterans.”

DONNA DOUBA, U. S. ARMY

Sherry Walker looked up to her big sister, Donna Douba.

“Donna was energetic, smart and an affable person,” Sherry recalled. “She loved to dance and loved performing in the color guard at Simon Kenton High School. She loved to bake and

enjoyed spending time with her family.”

Donna also served her country. She enlisted in the United States Army and worked as a welder from 1985 to 1987.

“Donna loved to travel and did so extensively while stationed in Germany,” Sherry said.

 But while she was serving overseas on Spangdahlem, Germany, she was in an accident and passed away just after her 21st birthday.

“She was truly my hero,” Sherry said.

RUDY HERMES, U.S. NAVY

Rudy Hermes was just 17 years old when, with the permission of his parents, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy during World War II. He became a Machinist Mate 3rd Class and worked on the construction and commissioning of the USS Midway, which at the time was the largest aircraft carrier in the world. 

Erlanger Councilman Tyson Hermes – who honored his father with a banner – explained that, like so many other World War II veterans, his father never sought recognition for his service. 

“If someone said ‘thank you for your service’, my Dad would usually say, ‘don’t thank me. Be thankful for one of the 400,000 that never came home,’” Councilman Hermes said. “This program is important because I don’t believe our younger generations appreciate the sacrifice that is made by so many military men and women, and their families, currently, or in the past. The banners help instill a sense of pride in our community among the relatives of those honored.” 

ALLEN McDONALD, U. S. NAVY

U.S. Navy veteran Allen McDonald was surprised with his Erlanger honor banner as a birthday gift from his family in March.

“He is an amazing husband and father for our family,” said Allen’s daughter, Kimberly Klare, a Lieutenant with the Erlanger Police Department. “He does so much for our family. He is retired now and takes care of his grandchildren throughout the week.”

Allen was raised in Campbell County and graduated from Campbell County High School. He joined the Navy in February of 1971 ahead of the draft. His service took him throughout Asia and the South Pacific.

After his first duty station in June of 1971 at a submarine base in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, Allen joined the crew of the USS Ogden in Hai Phong Harbor, Vietnam, as a Ship Fitter. The Ogden – known as a LPD 5 landing doc transport ship – transported 1,500 Marines and equipment and was also a mine sweeper.  He traveled to Taiwan, Hong Kong and Subic Bay in the Philippines before being honorably discharged on Dec. 12, 1974.

Allen married his wife Kathie in September of 1977. In addition to Kim, the couple also has another daughter, Kristen Thiessen, a Mental Health Technician with Sun Behavioral, and six grandchildren – Jaiden 19, Drew 11, Kendal 10, Chloe 9, Ella 7, and Adelyn 1. 

Allen was certified in auto body and mechanics and worked as a welder. He loves to build model cars, which he custom paints, and enjoys horseshoes and spending time with his family. 

ED NORDLOH, U.S. ARMY

Ed Nordloh was serving with the U.S. Army in Germany during the Cold War, helping to prevent Russia from expanding its hold on the country, when he came face-to-face with history.

Nordloh – a Ludlow native who lived most of his adult life in Erlanger – was stationed at the Dachau Concentration Camp, one of the notorious and horrific camps where thousands of Jews and others died at the hands of the Nazis. By the time Nordloh arrived in the late 1950s, the camp was used to house Eastern European refugees and as an Army stockade.

“Ed assigned the work details of those held at the stockade,” said Ed’s wife, Georgette Nordloh. “Dachau made a deep impression on him; hence he has been a prolific reader of WW II books.”

Ed served as a Specialist 4th Class in the Seventh Army from 1957 to 1959. He trained at Fort Benning in Georgia and Fort Dixon in New Jersey before being shipped to Munich. In addition to Dachau, Ed was also stationed in Augsburg where he drove a truck hauling ammunitions, picking up supplies and transporting troops to various field maneuvers.

“Ed is a man who loves his country and believes in the importance of being informed about history and current events as well as actively participating in government at the local, state and national levels,” Georgette said. “His family admires his selflessness, integrity and humility in serving his local community and our country.”

ART PRANGER, U.S. ARMY

Art Pranger was just a teenager when he fought his way across Europe with the United States Army, seeing action in some of the toughest and most consequential battles of World War II – St. Malo, the Siege of Brest, the Battle of Hurtgen Forest and one of the most important military campaigns in United States history, the Battle of the Bulge.

But no matter how fierce the fighting, Art prayed his rosary every day.

“My father was raised in a strict Catholic household,” said Art’s daughter, Mary Brown. “His brother became a Catholic priest. Each time his mother would write to him during the war she would inquire whether he was praying the rosary; he assured her he was and had kept his rosary with him throughout.”

Art entered the US Army in September 1943 through November 1945 as a member of Company A of the 86th Chemical Mortar Battalion. He saw his first combat action on July 1, 1944, in Normandy attached to the 1st and 3rd Armies from Utah beachhead, St. Malo, Siege of Brest, Hurtgen Forest, Battle of the Bulge and Rhineland. He completed his combat duty at Pilsen, Czechoslovakia with a rank of Private First Class T5 (Technician Fifth Grade).

Art wrote a book about his service, Traveling Through W.W. II, which is available on Amazon.

“This is not a chronicle of a brave and heroic soldier who rose several ranks to Captain or Colonel or Major, although he received a simple PFC to T-5 promotion along the way with a bunch of ‘other ‘guys’,” according to a description of the book. “This was an ordinary American boy, raised in a devout Catholic family by parents with strict principles, who were caught up in the conditions of a U.S. World War into which he was hurled as a teenager. All at once, he was clad in khaki and sent here and there on the European battlefields.”

Art was married to Rose Bamberger Pranger for 61 year and was the father to seven children. After the war, he studied at The New York Technical School and founded Tonemaster’s Television Service in Covington where he worked until retiring.

“After getting married, my parents bought their first house in Erlanger, moved to Covington when he started his business, then moved back to Erlanger where they both died,” Mary Brown said. “We wanted a banner to honor our father for his service as a prototypical part of the ‘Greatest Generation’. Art was a very humble man. Whenever a stranger would thank him for his service, he would shrug it off.”

JIM VOGELPOHL, U.S. AIR FORCE

Jim Vogelpohl is a devout University of Kentucky sports fan, so his family typically buys him UK gear or memorabilia for Father’s Day, and it always makes him smile.

But his wife has a never seen Jim happier than with this year’s gift – a military veterans Honor Banner hanging in front of St. Henry Church on Dixie Highway in Erlanger.

“My mom said it was the happiest she has ever seen him,” said Jim’s son, Brandon, an Erlanger resident. “He was so proud to see that banner hanging there. It’s all he talked about.”

Jim Vogelpohl, 74, a United State Air Force veteran, was the oldest of 11 children raised on a Taylor Mill farm by parents who taught their brood the value of hard work.

At age 20, Jim enlisted in the Air Force in 1966 and spent three-and-a-half years serving in Wyoming, North Carolina and finally Alaska, where he spent more than a year supervising heavy equipment for communication radar sites. He was not shipped to Vietnam because one of his brothers was already serving there.

Before joining the Air Force, Jim was studying accounting at The University of Kentucky Educational Extension Service in Park Hills, which eventually moved to Highland Heights and became Northern Kentucky University.

But the Vietnam War was underway. Lots of Jim’s friends had been drafted or enlisted.

“So, he enlisted before he was drafted,” Brandon said. “He chose the Air Force because his father had served in the United States Army Air Corps, which became the United States Army Air Service during World War II, and because he wanted to serve his country.”

After leaving military service, Jim returned home and spent his career as a truck driver, eventually taking over the company where he worked. He moved his family to Erlanger, where he and his wife raised their eight children.

“He was a hard-working, modest man who was devoted to his family and who loved his country,” Brandon said. “Our military veterans don’t always get the respect and honor each and every one of them deserves. So, our family was thrilled that we could have a banner hung in his honor. We thank the City of Erlanger for this program. It is something our family will never forget because we will think of him every time we see that banner.”


WILLIAM WOODSIDE, U. S. ARMY

At the height of the Vietnam War, the Army drafted my husband, William Woodside. He was only 20 years old when he was torn away from his family and his wife. He could have run away to Canada as some Americans did to avoid the draft. Instead, he stood tall and reported for duty. 

After basic training, he was spent one year, walking in dirty, foal rice patties. He ate sea rations left over from World War II. He witnessed gross mutilations of his buddies. He was introduced to the sadness of death right before his eyes at a place he had no desire to be. 

When he came home to America, he was called names like ‘ baby killer” and received many insults. I am very happy that our country’s attitude has changed toward these vets, and I thank God that He brought him home and in one piece. Most of all, I am grateful that he is alive to see the honor and recognition for his sacrifice. 

I thank the City Of Erlanger for spear heading the banners and highlighting our vets in all wars. 

Submitted by Wendy Murphy Woodside