Medals representing valor and bravery earned on far-away battlefields have a new and permanent home at Arkansas Tech University.
Jerry Hefley of Russellville has donated the World War II medals earned by his father, the late Ted Hefley of Dover, for display at the ATU Student Veterans Lounge in the Doc Bryan Student Services Center.
“I’ll be 74 this year,” said Jerry Hefley. “I feel like the medals should be here where everybody can see them. I would like to have a permanent place for them. I think my dad would love it and appreciate it.”
Ted Hefley landed at Normandy in June 1944 and went on to earn the Purple Heart, the Silver Star, the Distinguished Service Cross and the French Croix de guerre in recognition of his service during World War II.
The French Croix de guerre was presented to Ted Hefley by Gen. Charles DeGaulle. He received his Distinguished Service Cross from Gen. George C. Marshall upon recommendation from Gen. George S. Patton.
“We landed in Normandy the second day after the invasion,” Ted Hefley told reporter Kathleen Hollabaugh for an article published in the Courier Democrat newspaper (now known as The Courier) on May 26, 1986. “If any soldier there says he wasn’t scared, there’s something wrong with him.”
Ted Hefley received an honorable discharge from the U.S. Army following 38 months of service. He enrolled at Arkansas Tech in 1951 to take classes in drafting and mechanics.
“I can remember as a kid finding the drafting tools he got here at Tech and playing with them,” said Jerry Hefley.
The son followed in the father’s footsteps, enrolling at Arkansas Tech in the late 1970s.
Now, the son has honored the father by ensuring his legacy is secure and available for viewing by his fellow veterans.
“Everyone should serve in the Army,” said Ted Hefley when interviewed for that 1986 newspaper article. “It makes men out of boys…but war is something else. I believe in talking first.”
The ATU Student Veterans Lounge is adjacent to the ATU Office of Veteran Services on the first floor of the Doc Bryan Student Services Center.
Visit www.atu.edu/veterans to learn more about the ATU Office of Veteran Services.