Two Columbus Natives inducted into Georgia Military Veterans Hall of Fame

Debbie Burke Holland and Pamela Burke Gardner, the daughters of Sgt. 1st Class Earl Fredrick Burke, accepted the Hall of Fame honor for him. (Photo by: Nathan Leduc Photography)

Debbie Burke Holland and Pamela Burke Gardner, the daughters of Sgt. 1st Class Earl Fredrick Burke, accepted the Hall of Fame honor for him. (Photo by: Nathan Leduc Photography)

By Marilyn Weitzel, Georgia Military Hall of Fame, Media Coordinator /

A former U. S. Senator, two Congressional Medal of Honor winners, a former Army nurse and two Soldiers from Columbus are among the 17 military veterans who were inducted Nov. 5 into the Georgia Military Veterans Hall of Fame.

“Their framed photos,together with those of the 49 previously selected members, will be prominently displayed on the heroes’ wall of the Floyd Building in the State Capitol complex,” said ,” said Hall of Fame founder Col. Paul Longgrear (USA-Ret).

Former U.S. Senator and Georgia Secretary of State Max Cleland of Atlanta was a worthy choice who, despite combat disabilities, became a decorated statesman and untiring supporter of veterans causes. “I am very honored to receive this award,” he humbly responded when informed of his selection.

Retired Army Col. John Fuller (left) accepted the Hall of Fame honor for Lt. Gen. Carmen James Cavezza (Photo by: Nathan Leduc Photography)

Retired Army Col. John Fuller (left) accepted the Hall of Fame honor for Lt. Gen. Carmen James Cavezza. (Photo by: Nathan Leduc Photography)

Medal of Honor inductees Sgt. Clyde Thomason of Atlanta and Sgt. Roy McKibben of Felton,recognized for their combat heroism, both made the ultimate sacrifice when killed in action.

Former field hospital commander Donna Rowe of Marietta, the first female to be admitted to this elite group, served nobly in Vietnam, but was recognized for her extensive contributions to community and veterans’ organizations. “I was overwhelmed,” she said upon hearing the news of her appointment. “But I accept on behalf of the 11,000 plus nurses who served and the eight who were killed while administering to our wounded soldiers.”

United States Army Lieutenant General Carmen James Cavezza, a Columbus native, entered the 2016 Class Hall of Fame for his extraordinary heroism in combat and his inspirational leadership throughout his exemplary thirty-three year military career. He followed his military career by another career of public service with the City of Columbus and the National Infantry Museum at Fort Benning. On several occasions in Vietnam, he distinguished himself by his remarkable courage which resulted in an impressive number of awards for valor.

Army Sergeant First Class Earl Fredrick Burke, also from Columbus, entered the 2016 Class of the Georgia Military Veterans’ Hall of Fame for his numerous acts of courage and gallantry. On 6 & 7 February 1968, as a Special Forces (SF) (Green Beret) Heavy Weapons Sergeant at Lang Vei SF Camp in Vietnam, he distinguished himself as the camp was being attacked and overrun by a numerically superior North Vietnamese Army Regiment supported by 16 tanks and hundreds of enemy soldiers. As the lead element of the enemy tanks came in view, he killed three with a crew-served anti-tank weapon. Burke was last seen continuing to furiously and selflessly fight until his ammunition was expended and his defensive position was overrun resulting in him sacrificing his life in order that others might live.

Rounding out the 2016 veterans selected for the Hall of  Fame are Marine Corps Sgt. John Blair of Canton; Marine Corps Corporal Paul Cheatwood of Tallapoosa (deceased); Navy Capt. Donnie Cochran of Pelham; Army Master Sgt. Michael Dover of Ellerslie; Army  Lt.Gen. Burton Patrick of Thomason;  U.S. Army Command Sgt.Maj. Horace Pearl of Griffin; 1st Lt. Phillip Spackman of Jasper; Navy Ensign Shelton Sutton of Vidalia (killed in action); Air  Force Col. Dewey Waddell of Bremen; Marine Corps 1st Sgt. Curtis Williamson of Fayetteville and Army Staff Sgt. Charles Windham of Dahlonega.

According to Hall of Fame Chairman of the Board of Governors Col. Rick White (USA-Ret) of Atlanta, nominees must have ties to Georgia and qualify in one of three categories: valor for heroic action in combat; outstanding achievement while in service, or significant local, state or national contributions after leaving active duty.

This year’s honorees were inducted at the Fourth Annual Georgia Military Veterans Hall of Fame Ceremony and Banquet at St. Luke Ministry Center, in Columbus.

For more information, visitors may access the Hall of Fame website at www.GMVHOF.org

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