Clockwise: Former Athletic Director Art Lanham presents Sergent 1st Class Danny Wagner with the Jim Marshall Veteran of the Year Award; (Left to Right) Interim President Dr. Catherine Clark, Athletic Director Jeff Lanham, Former Athletic Director Art Lanham, Jim Marshall’s Wife Mrs. Joan Marshall, their grandson Kenny Marshall, and their son Jim Marshall stand with the newly unveiled award display; A display of photos of Jim Marshall at the Honor Our Veterans Night Banquet; The Wagner Family: Debbie Rogers, Danny Wagner, Fern Wagner, and Steve Wagner; and VFW Post 8850 member Frank Collins with Danny Wagner. Submitted photo.

RIO GRANDE, Ohio – The University of Rio Grande and Rio Grande Community College takes pride in honoring veterans who have served and are continuing to serve our country. As part of this endeavor, Rio hosted an Honor our Veterans night banquet to show appreciation for local veterans. The event included a presentation from the keynote speaker, Civil War Scholar and Rio Alumnus Frank Bullock as Civil War General William Sherman, and the presentation of the third annual “Jim Marshall Veteran of the Year Award”. Interim President Dr. Catherine Clark said she is proud of Rio for the faculty, staff and students’ efforts to continue creating a veteran-friendly campus.

“I’m so proud to be part of a campus and community that holds their veterans to the highest respect. These men and women have sacrificed so much to keep our country safe, and it is an honor to take time to serve them on our campus,” Clark said. “Our veterans have lived history and deserve recognition for all they have done for our country, and all they continue to do as role models and leaders of our communities.”

The ceremony began in the Lyne Center with the unveiling of the new “Jim Marshall Veteran of the Year Award” display. The 5’x7’ display hangs across from the athletics office and will be filled with plaques of the names and photos of all recipients of the award, including past recipients, Jim Marshall and Walter McCarley, as this year’s recipient, Korean War Veteran Sergent 1st Class Danny Wagner of Hanging Rock, Ohio. Joan Marshall, unveiled the display to the public with the help of her son, Jim, and grandson, Kenny, said she appreciates the respect Rio has shown her late husband, and hopes this display will inspire others to honor and remember veterans.

“Jim had such incredible military and athletic careers, and he never let the loss of his hearing from being injured in battle stand in his way of being able to serve others and participate in the athletic community here at Rio. I’m grateful everyone involved in making this award happen to honor Jim and for how much Rio cares for him. He was so thrilled that they chose him for this.,” Mrs. Marshall said. “I hope this award continues for decades. This means so much to our family. It’s something that our grandson will be able to come here twenty years from now and say it was named for his grandfather. The display is a lasting memorial, and a unique and wonderful way to honor veterans.”

This year’s award recipient, Sargent Wagner enlisted in the Army in August 1948 serving in multiple infantries and companies during the Korean War, also serving as a Squad Leader during engagements. He has received three Purple Hearts and numerous awards for service to his country. After four years of meritorious service, Wagner was honorably discharged from the Army May 1952. He was nominated by Ironton VFW Post 8850 member Frank Collins for sharing the same spirit, dedication and endurance in serving his country displayed by Jim Marshall. Wagner said he appreciates being recognized for the award, as well as the work Rio put into honoring all veterans at the event.

“This award means a lot to me. I’ve been out of the service for sixty years, and I’ve never been awarded anything like this before. I appreciate what Rio’s done for veterans and that they continue to honor those who have served, including those who didn’t make it back,” Wagner said. “I think this award is a good way to recognize veterans, and I appreciate Jim Marshall and his service to our country. There was nobody like him.”

The committee to select the winner chose Wagner due to his similar values and equal dedication to both country and community as Jim Marshall. Marshall was a valued member of the Rio Grande Men’s Basketball Team where his character, attitude, performance, and leadership served to inspire his teammates. He left Rio to serve his country in the US Military during the Vietnam War as 1st Sergeant, Kilo-Battery—4th Battalion—13th Marines. He was injured in combat and awarded the Purple Heart. He joined the 684th Army National Guard in 1974.

Another way Rio continues to honor veterans in our area is to offer them free admission to all athletic events at Rio’s campus during the 2018-2019 year. For more information on how to nominate a veteran for 2019, contact RedStorm Athletics at 740-245-7293.