by David Miller
Loveland, Ohio – The Ohio Veterans Hall of Fame recognizes the post-military efforts of outstanding Ohioans who contribute to their communities.
The Department has announced the members of the Ohio Veterans Hall of Fame Class of 2023 including veterans from Clermont and Warren Counties.
Michael P. Monahan, who served in the Army and is from Milford in Clermont County, John C. Looker, who lives in Mason and served in the Army, and Purcell Taylor Jr., who served in the Marine Corps and from Warren County will represent the Class of 2023.
The members of the Ohio Veterans Hall of Fame are honored in a permanent display at the Vern Riffe Center for Government and the Arts in Columbus. All 20 members of the class will be honored during the annual Induction Ceremony at 10 AM on Nov. 9 at the Fawcett Center for Tomorrow on the campus of The Ohio State University.
United States Army Veteran
Mike Monahan served as a Scout Dog Handler for the 46th Scout Dog Platoon in Tay Ninh, Vietnam. His partner’s name was Chico. Chico alerted Mike to a trip wire attached to explosives, saving Mike’s life and the lives of others who were on patrol. Following Vietnam, Mike spent 22 years in construction, working as a pipe fitter, becoming a local leader in the industry. Mike was then led to a different calling after attending a life-changing personal growth seminar. He began volunteering with Life Success Seminars to help others achieve their full potential through many avenues, including personal responsibility, trust, forgiveness and leadership. Mike’s volunteerism led to a career change, where he served 19 years as executive director of Life Success Seminars. Mike currently uses his experience as a personal coach to mentor leaders and business owners. After a trip to Vietnam in 2005, he wrote and published the first of his six books, From the Jungle to the Boardroom, and became No. 1 on the Inc. Magazine Best Sellers list. The return trip from Vietnam gave Mike a peace he had long sought, but he still felt indebted to the partner who saved his life. Mike’s latest book, Chico’s Promise, gave him healing and he created a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization by the same name whose mission is to support selected no-kill shelters by paying adoption fees to save 50,000 dogs to honor Chico’s memory. An accomplished leader, speaker, author and activist, Mike enters the Ohio Veterans Hall of Fame at age 75.
United States Army Veteran
While John Looker’s dedication to his country was demonstrated by his military service during the Vietnam War, it is his post-military altruism that truly makes him stand out. John has dedicated his life to bettering his nation, his community and the lives of his veteran peers. John has done this through his involvement in a wide variety of committees, advocacy groups and other veteran service organizations, all of which provide insight into his leadership and selflessness. John is an American Legion National Committee Member for Veterans Employment and Education, a position that focuses on improving veterans’ education, employment and economic well-being. John has held many leadership roles in the Commanders Action Network for the Disabled Veterans of America, where his advocacy helped protect the benefits of ill and injured veterans and their families. In addition, John is involved in many other veterans’ advocacy groups including the City of Mason’s Veterans Board of Affairs, where he leads veterans’ activities and programs throughout the Mason community; the Warren County Veterans Court Mentorship program; and the Warren County Suicide Prevention Coalition. John has been instrumental in many community initiatives in Mason, a snapshot of which includes its dedication as a Purple Heart City; developing the Military Banner Program; organizing the POW/MIA Memorial; and orchestrating annual Memorial Day and Veterans Day parades and ceremonies. John’s spirit of generosity and commitment is recognized by his local community, but his efforts impact and extend to others far beyond his city. We recognize John as he enters the Ohio Veterans Hall of Fame at age 75.
United States Marine Corps Veteran
Purcell Taylor Jr., an enlisted Marine Corps veteran, returned to Cincinnati following his military service in Vietnam, Cuba and Quemoy-Matsu. In the face of adversity, he persisted, and became a lifelong researcher and educator. Purcell has earned prominence as a teacher, counselor, administrator, author and expert forensic psychologist. Throughout his career, he served numerous visiting and adjunct faculty positions in the southwest Ohio region. As a strong leader in his field, Purcell serves as a positive role model for inner city African American youth. Notably, in 1977, Purcell became the first African American at the University of Cincinnati to receive a doctorate degree in school psychology. He has authored or edited 10 books as well as dozens of articles published in professional journals and magazines. Purcell currently serves as Professor Emeritus of Psychology in Forensic Practice at UC. This title is awarded only to faculty members who have demonstrated outstanding service and achievements in teaching, researching and leadership. In addition to his teaching credentials, he has served as an administrator and supervisor in mental health and has served as an expert witness in court hearings, evaluations and trials. Local leaders appointed Purcell to the Cincinnati Human Relations Commission and Hamilton County Task Force for Community Safety. His enduring legacy as founder of the DECLARE Therapy Center, Inc. in Cincinnati treats people suffering from chemical dependency. Among many other community engagements, and professional memberships, he volunteers his time as a peer mentor for the Warren County Veterans Treatment Court. Undeniably worthy of recognition, Purcell enters the Ohio Veterans Hall of Fame at age 82.
The 20-person class will be honored with medals by Ohio Department of Veterans Services (ODVS) Director Deborah Ashenhurst. Many other distinguished guests, including previously inducted Hall of Famers, will be present.
Twenty inductees will be honored for their accomplishments and achievements at the 32nd annual Induction Ceremony in November for their post-military service. This class represents 14 Ohio counties and four branches of the U.S. Armed Forces. Ohio Governor Mike DeWine recently approved the entire class and will offer his congratulations during the official ceremony.
Living members of the class range in age from 56 to 86 and there are three posthumous inductees: Korean War veteran and globally successful entrepreneur Donald Keehan; famed Tuskegee Airman and Brigadier General Charles McGee; and Iraq War veteran Heath Robinson, who is credited as the inspiration for the PACT Act that provides funding and health care access for veterans who are dealing with illness related to toxic exposure.
The 2023 Ohio Veterans Hall of Fame Inductees are:
Darrin M. Adams, Army, Shelby
Michael L. Close, Army, Delaware
Carolyn L. Destefani, Air Force, Greene
Terry Johnson, Air Force, Montgomery
Donald J. Keehan*, Marine Corps, Lorain
Paul M. Keller, Air Force/Air Force Reserve, Greene
John C. Looker, Army, Warren
Lester L. Lyles, Air Force, Montgomery
Laurel A. Mayer, Air Force, Greene
Charles E. McGee*, Army Air Corps/Air Force, Cuyahoga
Timothy E. McMonagle, Army, Cuyahoga
Michael P. Monahan, Army, Clermont
Jack L. Patterson, Army, Coshocton
Heath M. Robinson*, Ohio Army National Guard, Fairfield
Stephen L. Rosedale, Army, Hamilton
David L. Scheffler, Army, Fairfield
Donald P. Scott, Army Reserve, Mahoning
Purcell Taylor Jr., Marine Corps, Warren
Bruce K. Thorn, Army, Franklin
Robert A. Walkup, Navy/Army Reserve, Williams
* Posthumous Award
“Each year I am awed by the contributions of our nominees to their communities, to the State of Ohio, and to the nation,” said ODVS Director Deborah Ashenhurst. “They represent the powerful difference Ohio’s veterans make to the heart of it all.”
The Class of 2023 joins 954 Ohio veterans who have been inducted since 1992 and represent all eras, branches of service, and walks of life.
The Ohio Veterans Hall of Fame was established in 1992 by former Gov. George Voinovich to recognize the post-military achievements of outstanding Ohio veterans. Charter members of the Hall of Fame’s Class of 1992 include the six Ohio veterans who were elected President of the United States as well as Medal of Honor recipients from Ohio. Honorees of the past 31 years include astronauts, entrepreneurs, volunteers, community leaders, safety officers, veteran advocates, and government officials.
The Ohio Department of Veterans Services, on behalf of and in collaboration with the Ohio Veterans Hall of Fame Executive Committee, administers the Ohio Veterans Hall of Fame. Comprised of 13 veteran volunteers, the Executive Committee members serve as advisors to the Hall of Fame, and their primary purpose is to select up to 20 honorees annually.