Military Alumni

Military High School Alumni

Honoring Our Heroes

This area is dedicated to our alumni that have served or are serving in our armed forces!

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Honored Military Alumni

James I. McGrath
James I. McGrath
Class of 1933
Army, 8 Years

**** East Union MSR ****

James I. McGrath joined the U S Army after graduation from Afton High School in 1933 and was in the Army Cavalry, stationed mostly in Iowa during this enlistment.

Jim was recalled into the Army after World War II began. He requested assignment to the Ninth Armored Division and after training was sent to Europe.

During the Battle of the Bulge Jim was captured by the German Army and became a Prisoner of War. After a month in a POW camp, his remaining captivity was spent on the march while the Germans attempted to avoid the Allied forces. Liberated after a total of four months in captivity, he was returned to the United States. Jim was awarded the Combat Infantry Badge, European Theater Ribbon with two Battle Stars, and the Bronze Star Medal for his exceptional service to his country.

Jim returned to Afton where he and his wife Doris raised their three sons. He was a rural mail carrier and operated a horse and tack business.

In 2011 Jim was recognized on the newly created East Union Military Service Recognition physical display. It honors military service with nameplates for East Union area high school attendees who served in the uniformed military and were killed in action, became prisoners of war or earned high military combat recognition.
Jay Shannon
Jay Shannon
Class of 1981
Navy, 20+ Years

Aviation Structural mechanic. Retired as AMCS (E8), would have stayed in but I was offerd a job, I was sick of riding ships and I needed to stay home with my teenage son to keep him from acting like I did.
Stationed at NAS Whidbey Island in several electronic warfare squadrons, one tour at Air Test and Evaluation in China Lake, deployed on East and West Coast carriers, Aviano, Italy, Prince Sultan Air base Saudi Arabia, and many bases in the US that I cannot remember.
Jeff Wolfram
Jeff Wolfram
Class of 1978
Air Force, 20+ Years

munitions systems specialist. did 16 yrs active duty then 6 yrs in the air national guard.
John B. Parks
John B. Parks
Class of 1937
Navy, 3 Years

After graduating from Afton High School in 1937, John Parks worked for Abbott Laboratories in Waukegon, Ill until rumors of war led him to enlist in the US Navy in October 1940.

John served on the cruiser Pensacola in the United States Pacific fleet, achieving the rank of Machinist Mate 2nd Class. On November 29, 1941, the Pensacola sailed from Pearl Harbor for Manila, as a convoy escort, and thus escaped the bombing of Pearl Harbor.

In 1942 John and the Pensacola were involved in the battles of Midway, Santa Cruz Island, and Tassafaronga before John was killed in action when the Pensacola was torpedoed near Guadalcanal in November 1942.

John was posthumously awarded the American Defense Service Medal, World War II Victory Medal, and Purple Heart for his service. The Afton, Iowa V.F.W. Post # 8882 is named after him as the first Afton area person killed in action during World War II.

In 2012 John was recognized on East Union's Military Service Recognition display which includes the names of individuals who were killed in combat, were prisoners of war, or earned high military combat medals during their period of military service.
Josiah Ibbotson
Josiah Ibbotson
Class of 1993
Navy, 15 Years

15 years on Submarines. 13 on fast attacks and 2 on ballistic missile submarines. Is a Nuclear machinist mate
Lloyd H. Tussey
Lloyd H. Tussey
Class of 1916
Army, 2 Years

** East Union MSR 2015 **

Corporal Lloyd H. Tussey, from the Shannon City High School Class of 1916, entered the US Army in December 1916. He was killed in action from gas poisoning on October 11, 1918, in France during World War I. First buried in France, his body was later returned to Shannon City for military burial at Oakland Cemetery. The Shannon City American Legion Post 461 was renamed the Lloyd H. Tussey American Legion Post 461 in his honor.
Corporal Tussey's name was added to the East Union Military Service Recognition plaque in 2015.
Loyd E. Lewis
Loyd E. Lewis
Class of 1939
Army, 3 Years

**** East Union M S R ****

Afton H S, 1939.
Served during W W I I, Pfc.
Killed in Action.

Loyd Everett Lewis and twin sister Lena graduated from Afton H S in May 1939.

In April 1941, Loyd enlisted in the U.S. Army at Camp Dodge in Des Moines. After basic training at Camp Alexandria, Louisiana and more training in Ireland, Loyd was sent to North Africa in May 1942, where he was assigned to the Red Bull Division that pushed successfully across North Africa. After that the Army moved to Sicily and on into Italy.

Loyd was killed July 17th, 1944, near Florence, Italy, from a mortar blast. His remains were initially buried in an Italian cemetery, then returned to Iowa for reburial five years later.

In 2013 Loyd was recognized on the East Union Military Service Recognition physical display. It honors military service with nameplates for East Union area high school attendees who served in our uniformed military and were killed in action, became prisoners of war or earned high military combat recognition.
Mark G Stickels
Mark G Stickels
Class of 1965
Army, 2 Years

After Graduation from East Union, Mark joined the US Army and chose training as a paratrooper, and served in the 101st Airborne Division during the Viet Nam War. He received the Bronze Star with one oak leaf cluster for efforts including rescuing wounded fellow soldiers under fire. He was later killed in action while serving on a reconnaissance mission.

In 2011 Mark was recognized on East Union's Military Service Recognition display. It includes the names of individuals who were killed in combat, were prisoners of war, or earned high military combat recognition medals.
Marsha Wison
Marsha Wison
Class of 1968
Navy, 20+ Years

I spent 21 plus years with the United States Navy. Attached to a Helicopter Training Squadron, Commander Pacific Fleet, Navy Recruiting District Washington DC, Commander, Fleet Air Keflavik, Iceland, Commander Naval Military Personnel Command, Commander, Naval Communication Station Iceland and finally Navy Recruiting District Minneapolis Minnesota at retirement. I was quite lucky with all my duty stations...served on a Special Project Unit...travel to many different locations of the world with this team. Although I was "black shoe" Navy....most of my duty was with the "brown shoe" Aviation Navy....so was fortunate to be able to travel where most of the aircraft traveled... love it,,,miss it...
Mary C Sutton
Mary C Sutton
Class of 1984
Navy, 20+ Years

*** East Union MSR ***
Mary Sutton graduated from East Union in 1984. She served in the US Army, National Guard and Navy during a twenty-year military career which included deployments in Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom (Afghanistan). She received a Meritorious Service Medal and achieved the rank of Lieutenant Commander in the Navy before retiring in 2009 and relocating to Kentucky. There she currently works as a staff nurse at Hardin Memorial Hospital in Elizabethtown.
Mary was selected by East Union School for Military Service Recognition in 2017.
Michael E. Petersen
Michael E. Petersen
Class of 1967
Army, 2 Years

**** East Union MSR ****
Entered US Army in May 1969. Serving in Viet Nam with the 11th Americal Division, Mike stepped on a land mine on August 24th, 1970. He lost both legs above the knee, eyesight in both eyes, suffered several broken bones, a perforated eardrum, and extensive injuries to the abdomen and to his left arm and hand, including loss of a finger. Mike was lucky to survive. He was awarded a Purple Heart.
After treatment at various hospitals including Walter Reed Army Hospital in Washington, D.C., Mike was transferred to the VA Medical Center in Omaha, Neb. While there he met Mary. They were married 8 months later. Told by specialists that they would never have children and that their marriage would not last, they remain happily married today, and have 6 children (2 in Heaven) and 6 grandchildren.
Despite acquiring an Associate Degree in Auto Mechanics (1979), and later training to be a VA Prosthetics Representative, Mike was unable to be hired in either of these areas because of his handicaps. But Mike was undeterred. He and Mary moved to Colorado Springs, to work for AWM from 1983-1985. Mike served as a Communications Director and Administrative Assistant to Andrew Wommack.
Mike then decided he wanted to help others who had suffered through similar circumstances. At age 40, he returned to school at New Mexico Highlands University, completing a Bachelors degree (with a 4.0 GPA), and then a Masters of Social Work in 1993. He then was hired as a Readjustment Counselor at the Colorado Springs Veterans Center, to work with soldiers and veterans suffering from PTSS and PTSD. While working there he received the VA disabled employee award in 1997. Mike has written numerous articles for magazines distributed nation-wide to veterans. In May 2006, Mike published a book on true and lasting freedom from PTSD
After retiring, Mike went to work for Pastor Lawson Perdue, at Charis Christian Center in Colorado Springs. There he helped with light office duties, praying with people and doing some counseling. He and Mary have also served on the church’s advisory board. They speak when asked to, travel, and enjoy their family to the fullest. In 2014 Mike was selected for recognition in the East Union Military Service Recognition Program.
Morris F. Conklin
Morris F. Conklin
Class of 1947
Army, 2 Years

Graduated from Afton High School in 1947.
U.S. Army draftee 1951-52. Served on the front line in Korea with the 3rd Battalion, 9th Infantry Regiment, Company K. On his first night there he became engaged in the Battle of Bloody Ridge.
A month later he was engaged in the Battle of Heartbreak Ridge. Close to the front when his weapon quit working, his commander directed him to go back behind the line to direct the fire of the troops from there. As he ran, jumping over logs, he was wounded by a shot in the thigh. He had to crawl and be pulled to safety, but even then he completed his task of directing fire on the enemy positions. Afterward, Morris walked nearly two miles to the aid station. After evacuation to Japan and a 45-day hospitalization & recovery, he was sent back to his battalion in the mountains of South Korea.

As recognition, Morris received a Purple Heart, two battle stars, a National Defense Service Medal, a Korean Service Medal, the Army Good Conduct Medal, and a United Nations Korea Service Medal.

After discharge, Morris returned to Afton, where he served as commander of the VFW and was a volunteer on the Afton Fire Department for forty-two years. He also was active at the schools in Afton and in church.
*** Received East Union Military Service Recognition in 2016***
Peggy Sue McNeley Williams
Peggy Sue McNeley Williams
Class of 1979
Navy, 9 Years

I did 2 years active Navy and 71/2 years active reserves. I went to Orlando, FL for Boot Camp in the summer of '79. After boot I went to NTC Orlando for Basic Electricity and Electronics. The Navy sent me to Great Lakes, ILL to finish BEE school. I was in an acident and could not stay in the school because of the number of sailors waiting to attend, so the sent me to the fleet. lol They sent me to Washington DC in March of 1980. There I became a Radioman striker. I was in the communication field of the Navy. Then I got out of active duty in June of 1980. In April of 1983 I joined the active Naval Reserves in Charleston, SC. Then my husband at the time got stationed in Sardinia,SS, Italy. Went over there for eleven months and I left him and came back to the states. Ended up in Norfolk, VA in 1985. Where I was affiliated wiith NavComSubLant. Most of my two weeks I done at NavComSubLant, Norfolk, In Sept 1985 done one of my two weeks in London, England. I was there until Oct 1989. Then I remaried and moved to Hurlock,MD Since that is in the middle nowhere I went to Wilmington,DE for my warior weekends until I was discharged in July 1992. For my two weeks out the year I did get to return to Norfolk, VA and one time they send me to Wilmington, NC.
Rick Burgess
Rick Burgess
Class of 1988
Army, 3 Years

Us Army Europe, Iraq,
Rick Schad
Rick Schad
Class of 1989
National Guard, 7 Years

Veteran Persian Gulf War 90-91
Combat radio signal operator
Delivered advanced warning scud missil alerts to notify troops of any coming scud missil theats.
Robert H. Thompson
Robert H. Thompson
Class of 1957
Army, 20+ Years

*** East Union MSR ***
Robert Thompson graduated from Afton High School in 1957. He first entered the Army Reserves; then went on to active duty in December 1957. His overseas assignments included Iceland, Korea, West Germany, Panama, and 2 tours in Viet Nam. During the Viet Nam tours he received two Bronze Stars and a Silver Star for his actions in combat and a Purple Heart for a combat-related injury. He attained the rank of First Sergeant by the time he retired in 1979. Robert has lived in the Afton area since that retirement.
Robert Wright
Robert Wright
Class of 1962
Air Force, 20+ Years

Carreer Fields: Electronic Technician & First Sergeant. Served in Europe,Asia, and Greenland
Ron Norman
Ron Norman
Class of 1967
Army, 20+ Years

Vietnam,Korea (2), Germany, Finished BA, Retired 93
Ronald D Long
Ronald D Long
Class of 1950
National Guard, 20+ Years

Ronald D. Long graduated from Arispe High School in 1950. He attended Tarkio College in Missouri, then enlisted in the US Air Force in January 1952. He went through the cadet flying program and was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant on May 1, 1953.
On August 10, 1953 Ron became a member of the Mach Busters Club by exceeding the speed of sound in an Air Force F-89 sabre jet. The next month he was assigned to a Fighter Squadron at Scott AFB in Illinois.
Ron was very fortunate to survive an airplane accident at Scott on June 24, 1954. The T-33 he was flying lost power on take-off and crashed at the end of the runway, bursting into flames. Ron suffered severe burns and spent the next two months in the base hospital. But he returned to flying in September.
In 1956, Ron was released from active duty and joined an Air Force Reserve unit in Des Moines. But Ron missed flying military aircraft very much, and so he transferred from the Reserves to the Iowa Air National Guard’s 124th Fighter Squadron and began flying the T-33 again. With his wife and two daughters he moved to Norwalk to be near the Guard headquarters at the Des Moines airport.
From June 1965 to February 1987 Ron was a full time flying instructor-technician with the Air National Guard. During these years he had many deployments and several tours of duty. He attended many schools; among them were Nuclear Safety School, University of California Safety Course, Squadron Officers Course, and the Air Force Command and Staff College. Positions he held included Operations Officer, Squadron Commander, and Director of Wing Safety. As a Command Pilot he accumulated 6800 hours of flying time on 16 types of military aircraft.
Ron made many foreign country trips; to Canada, Spain, Germany, Panama, England and Turkey. One of the more interesting was in 1972, in an exercise call “Cornet East”. He was one of three Des Moines Guard pilots to fly F-100’s from storage in Tucson, Az. to Eskisehir, Turkey, to be delivered to the Turkish Air Force. The flight took 12.6 hours flying time, with 12 refuelings en route. In another, in 1979, Ron was deployed to Waddington Royal Air Force Base near Lincolnshire, England, where they took eighteen A-7D aircraft and 350 Guardsmen in an exercise to demonstrate the unit’s ability to support the US Air Force in Europe.
Ron served as President of the Iowa National Guard Officers Association in 1983-84. He retired from the Air National Guard in 1987, as a Lieutenant Colonel after 35 years in the Air Force, Air Force Reserve, and Iowa Air National Guard.
He was a member of the Silver Squadron and American Legion. He was also a member of the Peace Lutheran Church in Des Moines, where he served as Director and as an Elder
Wayne Keimig
Wayne Keimig
Class of 1988
Navy, 10 Years

Still active duty. 1st command was VX-9 Vampires in Point Mugu, CA, 2nd VF-154 The Black Knights at NAF Atsugi, Japan, 3rd command was HSL-43 Battlecats in North Island, CA and current command is HSL-51 Warlords in NAF Atsugi, Japan

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Lance Lynam
Class of '89

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Our East Union High School military alumni are some of the most outstanding people we know and this page recognizes them and everything they have done! Not everyone gets to come home for the holidays and we want our East Union High School Military to know that they are loved and appreciated. All of us in Afton are proud of our military alumni and want to thank them for risking their lives to protect our country!