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 created the “Jim Marshall Veteran of the Year Award” to recognize veterans who have gone above and beyond the call of duty. This year’s award will be presented to Korean War Veteran Sergent 1st Class Danny Wagner of Hanging Rock, Ohio. The ceremony will begin Saturday, October 27 at 5:30 p.m. in the Lyne Center with the unveiling of the Jim Marshall Award Display, which honors all recipients of the award. Wagner will be honored at a Honor Our Veterans Night banquet at 6:30 p.m. The banquet will be open to the public, with veterans eating for free and a $10 cost for the public. Athletic Director Jeff Lanham said this award is a reflection of Rio’s efforts to be a veteran-friendly campus.
“Rio is dedicated to making sure all veterans receive the recognition and respect they deserve when they are visiting our campus. This award is one small way we can give back to our veterans and thank them for their service in the military and their continued service as leaders in their communities,” Lanham said. “The recipient does not have to be an athlete or even from Rio. Opening this award to all veterans regardless of ties to Rio or the four-county area represents Rio’s respect for all veterans. We are excited to unveil the display this year because we want something permanent to honor the recipients. This is something our students, community and veterans can take pride in.”
Sergeant Wagner enlisted in the Army 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. Retired Sunoco Chemical Company employee and member of the Ironton VFW Post 8850 Frank Collins, of Ironton, who nominated Wagner for the award, said he believes he deserves the award for his spirit, dedication and endurance in serving his country.
“I went to school and played basketball with Jim Marshall, and there’s no one better to name this award after. He was a hero for his country and a wonderful person. I nominated Danny for this award because he has the same spirit and dedication to his community and country that Jim always had,” Collins said. “I’m excited that Danny was chosen because he went through so much during the war, earning numerous awards and three Purple Hearts and is truly deserving of this recognition. Our communities in the region are deeply rooted in supporting our military and our veterans, so it’s wonderful to see that Rio has created this award to honor those who have served to keep our country safe.”
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. Former Rio Athletic Director and Men’s Basketball Coach Art Lanham said he hopes this award will continue to honor the legacy Marshall left at Rio.
“Jim’s dedication to get back in the game after his injury was unbelievable,” Art Lanham said. “His demeanor and perseverance even earned him respect from the opposing teams. This is only one of the many reasons we decided to name this award for him. We want him to always be remembered at the University of Rio Grande and Rio Grande Community College.”
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 the banquet, or how to nominate a veteran for 2019, contact RedStorm Athletics at 740-245-7293.