Gov. Beshear Recognizes Four World War II Veterans as Kentucky Colonels

​​​​​​​FRANKFORT, Ky. (Feb. 12, 2020) – Gov. Andy Beshear recognized four World War II veterans at the Capitol on Wednesday, thanking them for their selfless service, and commissioned them as Kentucky Colonels.

“We can never do enough to thank these veterans who, as young men, risked their lives to stand up to tyranny and forever changed the course of history,” Gov. Andy Beshear said. “I am honored just to be in their presence. As a small thank you for their selfless service to our nation, I am proud to honor each of them as a Kentucky Colonel.”

Gov. Beshear recognized the following Kentucky veterans for their service:

Sgt. Jim Ethridge, Trigg County, served from 1946-1952 during World War II and the Korean War. Sergeant Ethridge was only 15 years old when he joined the Army. He was awarded the World War II occupation medal of Japan; World War II victory medal; Korean War service medal with three France engagement services; Korean defense good conduct medal with two oak leaf clusters; unit citation United Nations service medal; presidential unit citation; and Korean president unit citation.

Staff Sgt. Henry Breithaupt, Christian County, served from 1946-1967. Staff Sergeant Breithaupt served in three wars protecting our country: World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. After his service, he was a truck driver until his retirement in 1999.

Cpl. Elwood Richardson, Christian County, spent 21 months overseas in the Asiatic-Pacific Theater of Operations. He is entitled to wear the American Theater ribbon with two bronze stars, Philippines Liberation ribbon, Good Conduct medal, and the Victory medal. Corporal Richardson served in the Pacific in New Guinea and in the Philippines. He and his regiment were on their way to invade Japan when bombs were dropped on Nagasaki and Hiroshima ending the war. After the war ended, he assisted Bataan Death March prisoners of war prepare to return home. After discharge from military service, he worked in South Bend, Ind., and eventually returned to Hopkinsville.

Cpl. Howard Bentley, Greenup County, was drafted into the Army while working in the shipyards in Baltimore. He would ultimately earn recognition as one of the state’s most decorated soldiers during World War II. Corporal Bentley, with the 96th Infantry Division, was one of only four in U.S. military history to receive the U.S. Presidential Unit Citation in its entirety. For his valor, skill and service during World War II, Corporal Bentley received a Bronze Star and two Bronze Oak Leaf Clusters, the Good Conduct Medal, the Philippine Citation Award, the Presidential Citation, two Beachhead Arrows, the Combat Infantry Badge, the World War II Victory Medal, and a Purple Heart. Following his honorable discharge from the Army in 1946, he continued to serve his country as a member of the Army Reserves. He was eventually called back into duty to serve during the Korean War in 1950, for which he earned a Bronze Star and two additional Bronze Oak Leaf Clusters while serving with the 394th Chemical Smoke Company.

The title of Kentucky Colonel dates back to around 1813. The Kentucky Militia had just returned from a highly successful campaign during the War of 1812. When the Militia disbanded, Governor Issac Shelby commissioned Charles S. Todd, one of his officers in the campaign, as an Aide-de-Camp on the governor’s staff. Todd’s official rank and grade was Colonel.

Today, Kentucky Colonels are talented and capable men and women appointed by the Governor of the Commonwealth of Kentucky because of their service to the state and country. They act as the governor’s ambassadors of Kentucky’s rich history and culture across the world.


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