Three Cowetans in first Military Hall of Fame class

Three Cowetans -- Johnny Curtis Calhoun, Joe Madison Jackson and Stephen Wesley Pless -- have been inducted into the Georgia Military Veterans Hall of Fame. 

The three were among 18 in the inaugural class of the Hall of Fame. Organized in March, the group held its first induction dinner at the Double Tree by Hilton Hotel in Columbus on Friday evening. 

Calhoun sacrificed his life in Laos in 1968, saving his men. His remains have never been recovered, and he was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, the nation’s second highest military award.

The Medal of Honor, the highest military honor, was given to Pless and Jackson for daring military rescues in Vietnam in 1967 and 1968, respectively. Jackson is the only man living among the three. He lives in Washington state and was unable to attend the ceremonies. 

Each award included a medal, coin and certificate. There also was a letter to each from U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson. 

Calhoun’s widow, Faye Bassett, and his mother, Carol LeSueur, accepted his award -- the first ever presented by the program. Coweta veteran G.D. Hendrix accepted Jackson’s award. 

Stephen Pless and Cindy Pless accepted their father’s award. Travis Pless also traveled from his north Georgia home to see his brother recognized. 

Steve and Susan Quesinberry, teachers at Newnan High School, were among the approximately 175 attending. Steve Quesinberry is active in veterans activities in the county, teaches a popular class on the Vietnam War and wrote Calhoun’s nomination to the GMVHOF.

The Newnan Times-Herald gave a bust of Stephen Pless that is the first item for the Hall of Fame’s military memorabilia collection. The plaster bust was done by Texas sculptors Mark Austin Byrd and Jenelle Armstrong Byrd in preparation for the sculpture of Jackson and Pless that now graces Veterans Memorial Plaza in downtown Newnan.

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