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Kokomo man recognized for efforts to honor veterans

Kokomo Tribune - 11/4/2023

Nov. 4—Jerry Paul, Howard County Memorial Corporation's president, has been busy for the past few weeks.

He was one of 15 people who received a Hoosier Hospitality Award on Monday, distributed by the Indiana Destination Development Corporation and Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch. The award recognized his efforts in Howard County to build monuments that honor veterans.

Paul was the only recipient from Howard County to receive the award Monday.

The recognition comes while Paul and other Memorial Corporation members are trying to drum up financial support for a memorial that would honor Opha May Johnson, who was born in Kokomo and went on to become the nation's first female Marine.

The proposed monument includes three separate, staggered walls, decorative landscaping and a bench. Paul would like to have it placed on the northwest corner of the Howard County Courthouse.

A week before receiving the Hoosier Hospitality Award, on Oct. 25, the Howard County Memorial Corporation received a $25,000 grant from the Community Foundation of Howard County to put toward the Opha May Johnson memorial and an upcoming traveling exhibit on the Tuskegee Airmen.

"We are thrilled to be part of the Opha May Johnson Memorial coming to downtown Kokomo, and the exhibit honoring the Tuskegee Airmen coming to the Grissom Air Museum," Todd Moser, president of the Community Foundation of Howard County, said in a press release.

"Grant funds entrusted to the Community Foundation are intended to benefit the community now and in the future," Moser added. "Opha May's legacy as the First Woman to serve in the United States Marine Corps is a positive influence for the residents of our community."

The Community Foundation's funding for the Opha May Johnson Memorial comes at a crucial time. The Howard County Memorial Corporation can qualify for a $50,000 matching grant from the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority CreatINg Places program, but is facing a Nov. 17 deadline to raise enough money.

In addition to funding received through the Community Foundation grant, HCMC has raised money through local fundraisers and has received donations from several veterans organizations, as well as a significant contribution from an anonymous donor.

"The Howard County Memorial Corporation has a proven track record of success, most recently with the creation of the Women's Legacy Memorial on the courthouse square," Paul said in the press release. "We are very grateful for the support of the Community Foundation, and look forward to the successful completion of this memorial for our treasured Hoosier Daughter Opha May Johnson."


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