FORT BRAGG, N.C. – The 82nd Airborne Division has announced the inductees for the 2023 All American Hall of Fame Class. The ceremony honoring the inductees will be held at 11 a.m. on May 24 at Fort Bragg’s Hall of Heroes during All American Week.
Earlier this year, subordinate units within the Division submitted nominations for inclusion into the All American Hall of Fame. Those recommendations were presented before a board of senior leaders within the Division. The board selected 12 legendary figures from the Division’s 106-year history for enshrinement this year.
Inductees’ selection was based on their service within the Division, their lifelong commitment to the Division’s values, valorous combat action or contributions to their chosen field outside of the Division. Nominees will have been awarded the Medal of Honor or served a minimum of two years within the Division. While nominees may still be serving in the Army, they must not be eligible for further service within the Division and must be five years removed from their last service in the Division.
The following list of legendary Paratroopers are to be inducted into the All American Hall of Fame (to see photo and full bios of each inductee follow the link listed in *notes):
Retired U.S. Army Gen. Stephen R. Lyons served in multiple roles within the Division. Between July 1987 and March 1990, at the rank of Lieutenant and Captain, he served as the Materiel Officer and later, commanded Alpha Company, 782nd Maintenance Battalion. His company deployed in support of OPERATION JUST CAUSE (Panama) providing critical maintenance capability to multiple warfighting formations. He returned in July 2005 and commanded the DISCOM, later reflagged as the 82nd Sustainment Brigade. His formation deployed paratroopers in support of the HURRICANE KATRINA RELIEF EFFORT as well as OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM.
Retired U.S. Army Gen. John Nicholson Jr. last served as the Commander of all U.S. Forces and the 41 nation NATO-led Coalition in Afghanistan from 2016 to 2018. Before that, he served as Commander of NATO’s Allied Land Command and Commanding General of the 82nd Airborne Division. Commissioned in 1982, he served as an infantry officer at all levels with over six years in combat. He served combat tours with the 82nd Airborne Division in Operation URGENT FURY (1983) in Grenada and Operation ENDURING FREEDOM (2012-2014) in Afghanistan.
Retired U.S. Army Gen. Dennis L. Via served in the All American Division in four positions over the course of seven years including the Assistant Division Signal Officer in the Division Headquarters, Operations and Executing Officer for the 82nd Signal Battalion and eventually the Commander for the same Battalion where he modernized communications systems, allowing the Division to conduct large scale combat operations. During Gen.Via’s tenure as the Assistant Division Signal Officer he developed and executed a communication systems modernization plan, integrating the Mobile Subscriber Equipment (MSE) network to support the division’s execution of large-scale combat operations.
Retired U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Joseph K. Kellog Jr. joined the Army in 1967 and served two tours during the Vietnam War. He earned a B.A. in political science from Santa Clara University and an M.S. in international affairs from the University of Kansas. He then went on to study senior level management and diplomacy at the Army War College. Lt. Gen. Kellogg served in the 82d as Operations officer in 1st Brigade and Commander 1-504th Infantry Regiment. During Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm from 1990-1991, he served as the chief of staff for the 82nd Airborne Division.
Retired U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Freddy E. McFarren During his time in service Gen. McFarren has had a significant impact upon an innumerable number of lives. To many, he set the standard for what it means to be a Paratrooper by dedicating his time and energy in the All-American Division to develop the best Paratroopers in the Division. Lt. Gen. McFarren commanded 1-319th AFAR from December 1982 to December 1984. During this time, he deployed the battalion to Grenada for Operation Urgent Fury, the Army’s first combat deployment since Vietnam. Lt. Gen. McFarren served as the 82nd Airborne Division Chief of Staff from November 1988 to September 1989. Less than 90 days later, the Division jumped into Panama as part of Operation Just Cause. His organizational skills and his leadership in that position set the conditions for the Division’s success in its first combat jump since Operation Market-Garden in World War II.
Retired U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Jack P. Nix Immediately upon taking command of 1st Brigade in September '89, Lt. Gen. Nix oversaw critical training that would ensure the brigade succeeded in combat during Operation Just Cause three months later. In November, he led 1st Brigade through an EDRE designed to reconstruct the environment and conditions the brigade would face in an urbanized jungle terrain. In December, Lt. Gen. Nix emplaced 3-504PIR into a Jungle Operations Training Center training plan gap in Panama created by a Marine battalion that dropped off the midDecember training rotation. The training and rehearsals in the short months leading up to the conflict ensured 1st Brigade could fight and win. As a result, 1st Brigade experienced zero friendly fire incidents across five separate air lifts during the initial phases of the Operation Just Cause and fully deployed their command post within 30 minutes after the arrival.
Retired U.S. Army Col. Jack Hamilton demonstrates the valor of the 82nd Airborne Division Paratrooper in combat. He led Paratroopers in both Vietnam and Grenada and demonstrated a willingness to continue to place himself in harm’s way to serve the nation. Col. Hamilton led from the front as the company commander of A/1-505 PIR, placing himself in harm’s way while 3rd Brigade was deployed to Vietnam in 1968-69. On March 24, 1969, while attached to the 1st Cavalry Division, Col. Hamilton was leading a patrol through a rice paddy near the Cambodian border when his company came under attack. Col. Hamilton was immediately wounded by small arms and an explosive booby trap, leading to his evacuation from the battlefield. Col. Hamilton commanded the White Falcons in the invasion of Grenada during OPERATION URGENT FURY.
Retired U.S. Army Command Sgt. Maj. Steven L. Payton Throughout his military career he made it clear that he was not concerned about the number of awards he achieved or how many times he was recognized, but instead he would spend hours of his time going to various motor pools to mentor young Paratroopers. As and Forward Observer for Bravo Company 1-504th PIR, Command Sgt. Maj. Payton parachuted into Torrijos International Airport during Operation Just Cause, the Division's first Combat Parachute Assault since Operation Market Garden in WWI I. While serving, Command Sgt. Maj. Payton and the Paratroopers he worked with encountered a multitude of rapid deployments. While serving as the 1st Sgt. in Bravo Battery 1-3191h AFAR he deployed his battery to Operation Iraqi Freedom where they provided close combat fires and counterfires in support of Task Force Panther in and around Fallujah, Iraq.
Retired U.S. Army Command Sgt. Maj. Charlie A. Thorpe is a native of Tarboro, North Carolina, joined the Army on May 24, 1971. He attended basic and advanced individual training at Fort Jackson, South Carolina followed by Airborne School at Fort Benning, Georgia. His first duty assignment was from Oct 1971 to Dec 1974 as a Scout Observer, Team Leader, and Squad Leader with 1-504th Infantry Regiment at Fort Bragg, N.C. In June 1999, he served as the Commandant of the Fort Bragg NCO Academy until eventually becoming the 82nd Airborne Division Command Sergeant Major.
Retired U.S. Army Command Sgt. Maj. Ricky Yates served multiple tours in the Division spanning two decades. During that time, he held leadership roles from Platoon Sergeant through Brigade Sergeant Major. Prior to the realignment to what we know as the modern Combat Aviation Brigade, Command Sgt. Maj. Yates helped set the conditions for a smooth transition to modernize the force. Command Sgt. Maj. Yates deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) with the 1-17 CAV as the Squadron CSM. Later during the same deployment, he filled the role of Brigade CSM, serving in both positions simultaneously until the Brigade redeployed. He remained the Brigade CSM through the Brigade’s next deployment to Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF). Upon returning from OIF, Command Sgt. Majr. Yates provided invaluable guidance and leadership while the 82nd Aviation Brigade transitioned to the 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade we know today.
Retired U.S. Army Sgt. Maj. Edward A. Bell was critical in the Army transformation of standing up, 4th Brigade, 82ndAirborne Division in 2006 with the oversight and property management of over $500 million dollars’ worth of property he was responsible for at Equipment Transfer Site (Old Rigger Facility). While serving in 307th FSB, Sgt. Maj. Bell’s attention to detail and technical competence was critical in the logistics operational readiness, while being a member of the 1st Brigade Task Force Combat team from 1993- 1996, to include the combat preparation for Operation Uphold Democracy in 1994 to liberate the country of Haiti from military regime. Under his leadership, as the 82nd Sustainment Brigade CSM, his organization deployed in support of Humanitarian efforts “Super Storm Sandy in New York”, numerous other natural disasters to include the Haitian earthquakes in 2010, along with numerous Joint Operation Axis Exercises (JOAX) preparations as a part of the Global Response Force.
Sgt. Owen B. Hill was one of the storied NCOs who understood the overall intent of Operation Overlord and upon landing in Beauzville-au-Plain formed an LGOP, successfully blocking German forces from being able to reinforce at Chef-du-Pont. In the early morning of June 7, several German tanks, maneuvered in from the west. The lead tank halted just on the edge of Hill’s hedgerow, unaware of the paratroopers just meters away. Hill crawled along next to the tank and threw a grenade into the hatch when the German commander raised up for a better view. In Hill’s words- “The German popped out like a champagne cork!” The tanks retreated. Throughout that afternoon and through the 8th and 9th, Germans attempted to probe and penetrate, uncertain of the strength and positions of U.S. Forces. The fields of fire were excellent and slow aimed fire took a steady toll, limiting the German initiative. The two NCOs deftly shifted their few able-bodied infantrymen around to meet each threat. Running low on ammo, the NCO’s queried their men if they should surrender but 82nd paratroopers do not quit. They all replied, “Here we stand.” By noon on the 10th, the group was almost completely out of ammo. No medical supplies remained and there were less than 15 able-bodied paratroopers left. In Hill’s words, “It’s a damn lucky thing the Germans never got their act together. If they had attacked from both sides simultaneously, our goose would have been cooked.” Throughout the morning, they had heard heavy firing from Chef-du-Pont but saw no US forces on the road. A shout was heard from the Eastern perimeter and Hill went to the point of friction. On the horizon was a small group of Americans carefully working down the road toward them. The group gave a shout just as the Germans began to retreat westward from the farm complex. An NCO from the 90th Division greeted them, quickly arranged for the evacuation of the wounded, and guided the rest to the rear. After reuniting to his unit and serving as Infantry, Hill was wounded on 13 June and evacuated to the UK. He received the Silver Star for his actions 6- 10 June. On 13 December 1944, he re-joined the 508th in France. On 18 December, he deployed with the regiment to the Battle of the Bulge. He continued to fight as an infantryman from 18 December to 26 January where he was ultimately wounded and evacuated back to the United States.
Media interested in covering this event should contact the 82nd Abn. Div. PAO Office at 910-920-5422 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Media Pick Up Time will be at the Fort Bragg Visitor’s Center (All American Gate) 10:15 a.m.
For the latest information about All American Week 2023 visit or to view the Hall of Fame Inductees Bios and Photo visit https://www.army.mil/82ndAirborne#org-all-american-week