In less than a month, a Twinsburg VFW Post 4929 life member will join a prestigious group of veterans in the Ohio Military Hall of Fame for Valor.
Allen J. Smolic, of Twinsburg, will be inducted May 3 at the atrium of the Ohio Statehouse in downtown Columbus, with the ceremony starting at 11:30 a.m. He is being honored for his heroism in a helicopter mission Jan. 31, 1968, during the Vietnam War.
“I feel very humbled,” said Smolic. “There are a lot of veterans who have sacrificed tremendously, but [who] don’t get recognized. It’s a great feeling to be appreciated for my service to the country.”
He said he found out about the Ohio Military Hall of Fame for Valor at a Veterans Fair at Twinsburg High School last year.
“A guy saw my Distinguished Flying Cross pin and told me about the Hall of Fame,” Smolic said. “I hadn’t heard of it, but I submitted information about how I obtained the Flying Cross, and the Hall of Fame selected me for induction.”
“We are very proud that Allen has been selected for induction,” said VFW Post 4929 Commander Joe Jasany. “He is a great guy, very patriotic and very active in post activities.
“He was instrumental in planning our Cost of Freedom celebration in 2015, helps maintain our Veterans Park and carries the American flag at many events we participate in.”
Jasany said a caravan of post members will drive to Columbus for the ceremony, and they plan to visit the new National Veterans Memorial and Museum while in Ohio’s capital city.
Smolic said his daughter lives in Columbus, and encouraged him and his colleagues to visit the museum.
“I really want to see that place,” he said.
Jasany said it wasn’t until Smolic joined the post in 2014 that they discovered they both graduated from St. Pius School in Bedford in 1962 after finishing eighth grade. He said they have become good friends.
On May 4, 1968, Smolic was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross by the Department of the Army, 25th Infantry Division, thus qualifying him for induction into the OMHOF.
According to information available when he was honored, Spec. 4 Smolic distinguished himself through heroic actions while serving as crew chief of a UH-1D helicopter from Company A, 25th Aviation Battalion on a combat operation for the Tan Son Nhut defense command, northwest of Saigon.
“When Spec. Smolic was informed that 35 men were surrounded in their quarters at the airbase without weapons, ammunition or food supplies, he volunteered to fly the necessary supplies to the trapped personnel,” reads the commendation.
“Total darkness, many obstacles and enemy sniper fire did not deter Spec. Smolic as his aircraft maneuvered along a selected route to its objective.
“He provided extremely accurate suppressive machine gun fire in defense of the objective and voluntarily exposed himself to intense enemy automatic weapons fire from all sides to assist in unloading the much-needed supplies.
“His valorous actions undoubtedly prevented many casualties and contributed immeasurably to the success of the mission and the defeat of the enemy force.
“Spec. Smolic’s personal bravery, aggressiveness and devotion to duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, the 25th Infantry Division and the United States Army.”
The first class of veterans was inducted into the Ohio Military Hall of Fame for Valor July 7, 2000.
The HOF came about after Army Air Cavalry veteran Ed Arthur thought up a way for Ohio to honor its heroic veterans in a unique and special manner, and presented the idea to five veteran friends.
The group of six met regularly for lunch to reminisce and discuss issues of the day.
According to the OMHOF website, the idea was not initially met with enthusiasm by the Ohio Office of Veterans Affairs, which was concerned that citizens might confuse the organization with the already established Veterans Hall of Fame and Military Hall of Fame.
But eventually the program got off the ground with help from David Aldstadt, director of the Governor’s Office of Veterans Affairs, as well as U.S. Rep. Pat Tiberi.
According to the website, as far as OMHOF officials can determine, Ohio was the first state to officially recognize its military heroes in this manner.
The OMHOF is funded through donations of various sponsors, and tax-deductible contributions to the organization are always welcome.
Nominations for the OMHOF are accepted year-round, and nominees must have been awarded a U.S. military medal for valor for a specific act of heroism.
The induction ceremony is open to the public, and parking is available in lots around the Statehouse.
Reporter Ken Lahmers can be reached at 330-541-9400, ext. 4189 or firstname.lastname@example.org.