Cullman Veterans Hall of Fame seeking nominations

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Retired U.S. Army Colonel and Fairview High School alumnus Don Fallin holds a banner recognizing the Cullman Veterans Hall of Fame. (Don Fallin)

CULLMAN, Ala. – Displayed on the first floor of the Cullman County Courthouse are six shiny plaques. They honor the first six inductees of the  Cullman Veterans Hall of Fame (VHF). The inaugural class was inducted last October, and includes Technical Sergeant (ret.) Jerry La Otto Willibey, United States Air Force; Robert R. Turner, United States Marine Corps and Army National Guard; Steven L. Larsen, United States Marine Corps; Colonel (ret.) Ken Brown, United States Air Force; Lieutenant Colonel (ret.) Johnnie R. Strickland, United States Navy and United States Army Reserve; and Donald Michael “Mike” Martin, United States Marine Corps. Now, organizers are seeking nominations for the next class.

The effort to create the VHF was spearheaded by Retired U.S. Army Colonel and Fairview High School and U.S. Military Academy at West Point alumnus Don Fallin, whom The Tribune has been following for many years.  After 30 years of active military service,  Fallin longed for a way to give back to fellow veterans and their families, and give back he has. He partnered with the nonprofit Johnnie Mac Soldiers Fund, an educational fund for veterans and military families, with a special emphasis on serving the children of soldiers who have given their lives in service to their country. He hiked the Appalachian Trail, a nearly 2,200-mile endurance trek; reached the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro; and completed the Bataan Memorial Death March, just to name three adventures. He has raised thousands of dollars for his cause.  

These incredible feats of physical and mental stamina earned Fallin an invite to the Cullman County Sports Hall of Fame.

“I was invited to the Cullman Sports Hall of Fame and from that, I started asking around about a Veterans Hall of Fame. Having spent time at the VFW (Veterans of Foreign Wars), there are a ton of amazing people in our county,” Fallin said. “So, I took it on as a task; I went out and looked around, there was no hall of fame for the veterans. Then I asked if there was interest. There was overwhelming interest if someone would take it on.”

So he did. The inaugural class of the Cullman VHF was chosen in 2023 through community nominations as well as consideration and approval from the VHF’s five committee members. This year, Fallin is on the search for a new crop of veterans to honor and recognize. Nominations are open for the 2024 class.  

Said Fallin, “The Mission of the Cullman Veterans Hall of Fame is to recognize and pay tribute to our veterans who honorably served our country, displayed great character and continued a lifetime of service to our county, our state and its citizens. The Cullman Veterans Hall of Fame is not just a military hall of fame, but also seeks to recognize veterans for their contributions to our community after their service. We aim to educate our local county citizens on the historical service and sacrifice of this county’s veterans as well as their service to make our community stronger.”

To be eligible for the Cullman VHF, nominees must have served their country honorably in a branch of military service. The focus of each nomination should center around the nominee’s continued service to the community, fellow veterans, country and state that carried over past discharge from service. The nominee must have been born, raised in or remained a resident of Cullman County for at least 10 years.

The nominated service member must have received an honorable or general under honorable conditions discharge from any branch of the U.S. Armed Forces. They may be asked to verify honorable service such as a DD 214, to be submitted with the nomination packet. If discharge papers for historical figures are unable to be retrieved, proof of service, as evidenced by historical accounts or military history, may be submitted. Posthumous nominations are accepted and considered.

Contact Fallin, Brian Monk with VFW Post 2214 or Keith Johnson with the American Legion to pick up nomination packets. Completed nomination packets can be dropped off at the VFW or American Legion, emailed to Fallin or turned in to one of the VHF committee members.

VHF committee members are:

  • Don Fallin, US Army, COL (ret), VFW Post 2214
  • Garry Marchman, US Army, CSM (ret), VFW Post 2214, Alabama Legion Post 4, DAV Post 101
  • Keith Johnson, Master Sergeant (ret.) Minnesota Air National Guard, VFW Post 2214, American Legion Post 4
  • Brian Monk, US Army, VFW Post 2214, American Legion Post 4
  • Chris Dutton, US Navy, Commander DAV Chapter 101, Boy Scouts of America – Committee Chair, Assistant Scout Master Troop 92

Fallin can be reached at 910-308-4197 or donald.fallin@gmail.com.  

Monk can be reached at  256-841-2392 or commandervfwpost2214@outlook.com.  

Johnson can be reached at 218-310-2222 or keith.johnson96@gmail.com.

VFW Post 2214 is located at 112 Veterans Dr. SW in Cullman.

The American Legion Post 4 is located at 181 Reid Road in Good Hope.

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