Letter to the Editor

March 28, 2009

AMVETS to honor Fales April 4

To the editor:

AMVETS Department of Maryland will present its annual, highly prestigious "PNC A. Leo Anderson Free State Award of Excellence" to John Fales Jr., president of the Blinded American Veterans Foundation and Washington Times news columnist known as "Sgt. Shaft," at a ceremony on April 4, at the Turf Valley Resort in Ellicott City, Md.

The award honors Fales' 20-plus years of advocating for veterans' benefits and for those of their family members. The ceremony will be attended by distinguished leaders of AMVETS and other veterans service organizations from throughout the state as well as Maryland elected officials.

The PNC A. Leo Anderson Memorial Free State Award of Excellence was first awarded in 1987 and has been awarded annually since that time.


Fales, of Silver Spring, Md., served in the United States Marine Corps in Beirut and Vietnam until losing his sight while on active duty.

For many years, Fales has been a strong and tireless advocate for veterans' rights.

In 1985, Fales helped found the Blinded American Veterans Foundation, a national clearinghouse for veterans information that focuses particularly on the rehabilitation, re-education, and re-employment of sensory-disabled veterans.

His most noteworthy decorations include: Military Order of the Purple Heart; Vietnam Service Medal; Vietnam Campaign Medal; National Defense Service Medal; Armed Forces Expeditionary Service Medal; New York State Conspicuous Service Medal; Presidential Unit Citation; Combat Action Ribbon and South Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry.

Other distinguished awards include: President's Medal for Distinguished Service from The Freedom Foundation; Outstanding Handicapped Federal Employee; Blinded Veterans Association's "Irving Diener Award"; United States Presidential Community Service Commendation; Chairman's Commendation from The President's Committee on Employment of the Handicapped.

Also, a special honor from the Vietnam Veterans Civics Council as one of Washington, D.C.'s Outstanding Vietnam Veterans.

Following his retirement, Fales earned his bachelor of arts degree from Saint John's University, New York and master of science degree in education from Hofstra University, New York.

John and his wife Heea are the proud parents of five children, one boy and four girls. They are also the proud grandparents of four boys and two girls.

Harold H. "Sky" King Sr.
PNC A. Leo Anderson Memorial Freestate Award of Excellence

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