November 9, 2016 EditionAlso in this issue...
Porter inducted into Military
Walnut Ridge native Major General Bobby B. Porter, U.S. Army, was posthumously inducted into the Arkansas Military Veterans Hall of Fame Saturday night.
Bobby Porter's friends from his youth reflected on his remarkable military career just after his death on Jan. 5, 2007. They said they knew that he would grow up to have a career in the military and be successful.
"All Bob's life he wanted to be a soldier," said Jack Allison of Walnut Ridge, who graduated a year ahead of Porter from Walnut Ridge High School.
"There was no question in my mind what he was going to do," said Robert H. "Bob" Rainwater, Porter's friend and classmate in the WRHS Class of 1952.
Porter was the son of Walnut Ridge residents Walter and Thelma Porter, recalled Johnny Shields, member of the WRHS Class of 1953. Bobby's father was the owner of Porter's Super Service Station located next to the Salad Bowl Restaurant.
Porter's wife, Carolyn "Sue" (Dinkins) preceded him in death about one and a half years prior to his death. Sue's father, Bert, was with Southwestern Bell Telephone Co. in Walnut Ridge before the family moved to Jonesboro, recalled Shields.
Rainwater and Lucia Allen, another friend and classmate, both recalled a foretelling incident from their youth regarding Porter. The friends were playing next door to Rainwater's parents' home. On top of a shed or garage, Porter jumped off the roof and yelled, "Shazam!" from Captain Marvel. He sustained a bad break to his arm. As an adult, he would make a career of jumping out of airplanes.
In fact, Porter became a major general and commander of the prestigious 82nd Airborne Division. As such, he is one of the highest-ranking military officers to be born and raised in Lawrence County.
On Saturday night, the Arkansas Military Veterans Hall of Fame inducted Porter into its elite group at the sixth annual banquet and induction ceremony at the Embassy Suites in Little Rock.
Two of Porter's three children were present, along with several friends from Lawrence County. U.S. Senator John Boozman presented the Hall of Fame medallions to 10 inductees recognized for valor and five inductees will be recognized for public service. Accepting the award for Porter was his daughter, Suzy Granger of the Houston, Texas, area, as well as his son, James R. Porter of Jonesboro. Another son, Rev. William T. Porter, lives in Florida.
This makes the third year in a row that a Walnut Ridge native has been inducted into the prestigious AMVHF. Gen. James Terry Conway, who is originally from Walnut Ridge, was inducted into the Arkansas Military Veterans' Hall of Fame (AMVHOF) in 2015. Walnut Ridge native Tom Thomas of Searcy, a U.S. Army colonel, was selected for induction into the elite group in 2014.
Thomas, with assistance from Porter's friends from Walnut Ridge, submitted a nomination to include Porter in the Hall of Fame.
The nomination noted that Porter served two combat tours in Vietnam. He received the Distinguished Service Medal, Legion of Merit, two Bronze sStar medals for valor, Purple Heart medal, Army Commendation Medal with two oak-leaf clusters, Air Medal with 10 Oak Leaf clusters and several others. He had numerous Letters of Commendation and other citations. He was also an inductee into the Hall of Honor, ROTC at Arkansas State University.
Thomas shed light on the magnitude of Porter's Air Medal awards. He told The TD, "If you will note, he was awarded the Air Medal with 10 Oak Leaf Clusters. It takes 25 combat assaults to be awarded one Air Medal. It had over 250 Combat Assaults!"
Born in Walnut Ridge in 1934, he joined the Arkansas National Guard at the age of 17. He graduated from WRHS and attended Arkansas State College (now University) and graduated in 1957 as a Distinguished Military Graduate. Upon graduation, he was commissioned a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army Infantry. He also graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a master's degree in communications in 1974 and also graduated from the Advanced Management Program from Penn State in 1978.
In the nomination letter, Thomas wrote of Maj. Gen. Porter: "He is a legend and considered an exceptional accomplished officer who came from a small community in Northeast Arkansas..." "... He rose to the rank of major general...and was the commanding general of the elite 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, NC..."
After making over 100 military jumps, Porter was seriously injured on Oct. 18, 1985, in a parachuting accident while on a training mission in Turkey as Commander of the 82nd Airborne Division. He was medically discharged June 30, 1987.
He and Sue moved to Myrtle Beach, S.C., where he taught in the field of public communications at two local colleges. They later moved to Jonesboro, where he died at the age of 72.
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