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2 eastern Idahoans receive Spirit of Freedom Awards

senator mike crapo announces freedom awards file
Senator Mike Crapo (l) announces Spirit of Freedom Awards

WASHINGTON D.C. (KIFI/KIDK)-A Rexburg veteran and a Pocatello volunteer are among 22 Idahoans being honored with Senator Mike Crapo's "2020 Spirit of Freedom" Veterans Service Award. Veterans organizations across the state nominated awardees for their service to fellow veterans and the nation.

Crapo started the awards program in 2002 to recognize and acknowledge the contributions of Idaho veterans and the volunteers who support them.

Among the veterans honored was Robert L. Jones of Rexburg.
"The Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Department of Idaho nominated Robert Jones, who has had an extensive, extraordinary career of service to our country and his fellow veterans. Bob Jones served in the U.S. Air Force for 20 years, retiring as a Lieutenant Colonel. His service included commanding logistics squadrons supporting combat units in the Vietnam War, serving as Chief of Supply for the Presidential Wing at Andrews Air Force Base, and serving at the Pentagon as a Senior Staff Officer with the U.S. Air Force. His civilian career included 15 years as Vice President of a defense firm in the Middle East. Bob has also served in many VFW leadership positions, and he travels to Washington, D.C., to advocate for veterans issues for the organization. Bob has earned 24 medals for his distinguished service to our nation and numerous honors for his local and statewide service. Bob and his wife, Carmelita, have four children, five grandchildren and one great-grandson."

Other veterans honored included Charles Abrahamson and Alan Wade Baumgardner of Mountain Home, Kendrick Anderson of Coeur d'Alene, Neil Biggs of Jerome, Chrstina Fletcher and John Burns of Meridian, Kevin Fowler, Paul Sherman, Charles Richard Taylor, and Harold Eshelman of Boise, Joe E. Willis of Lewiston, and Connie Workman of Grangeville.

Among the volunteers honored with the award was Hiedi Young of Pocatello. "In reading what inspired Hiedi Young to serve veterans for the past 22 years, it is clear why the Disabled American Veterans Department of Idaho nominated her. Hiedi shared, “I am so blessed to live where I do in a time of unprecedented freedom. I can never repay the debt that is owed to those who have served our country in the Armed Forces and preserved the way of life that I enjoy with my family and friends. It is an honor to call so many who currently wear the uniform and have worn it in the past friends. I get to rub elbows with true heroes every day!” Since 2005, Hiedi has been a Soldier & Family Readiness Specialist with the Idaho State Military Division. She also volunteers with many organizations to help those who serve our country, and she has received numerous awards for her service. Hiedi was married to her husband who served in the Idaho National Guard and Army Reserves for 25 years, and they have four children: Donald, Samantha, Kiersten and Allisa. Hiedi was 2011 Idaho State Young Mother of the Year, and her son is a combat medic with the Idaho Army National Guard while her daughters often help alongside her at various functions."

Others honored included Wendy Jo Ackley and Mitzi Cheldelin of Boise, Ray Alduenda of Meridian, Richard Brockman, Jr. of Lewiston, Miles Elletson of Garden City, Robert Joseph Johnson of Grangeville, David Lyon of Nampa, and Lana Tout of Moscow.

You can learn more about each of the award-winners here.

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