Dilly selected for 2017 class of the Ohio Veterans Hall of Fame

| October 19, 2017

Dave Dilly

COSHOCTON – Dave Dilly is honored to have his name mentioned among others associated with the Ohio Veterans Hall of Fame.

On Nov. 9 the Fresno resident and Vietnam Veteran will be one of 20 Ohio veterans inducted into the Hall of Fame Class of 2017. The Ohio Veterans Hall of Fame honors those who give to their community, state, and / or nation after honorably serving in the military. It was started by former Governor George V. Voinovich and is administered by the Ohio Department of Veterans Services.

“When Chip Tansill, director of the Ohio Department of Veterans Services called, I was like, ‘wow what’s going on,’” Dilly said. “At first it was kind of awkward then I thought this is awesome. I nominated Lewis Baker for this honor so I knew what the process was and knew people over there so just to be mentioned in this group of people is pretty awesome.”

Dilly was nominated for this honor by Jim Barstow, Coshocton County Veterans Service Officer, and Patty Dilly, who works with Barstow and is Dave’s wife.

Dave Dilly is pictured addressing those who attended a lunch at the Coshocton Senior Center held to recognize veterans who took part in Honor Flights and share information about the program. Since 2012, he has accompanied 52 veterans and 18 guardians on Honor Flights. In November he will be inducted into the Ohio Veterans Hall of Fame for his service to veterans and the community. File | Beacon

“I don’t really consider myself anything special, but I got to thinking this isn’t about me as much as it is about the county I live in and how supportive people here are of veterans and veterans’ issue,” Dave said. “This is more of a reflection of our community rather than me.”

The 72-year-old served in the U.S. Air Force in the Vietnam War. He was a weapons mechanic and loaded bombs, napalm, rockets and guns. While in Vietnam he worked with F-4s and when he was in Thailand he worked with F-104s.

“One of the things that drives me is that with being in Vietnam a lot of my brothers never made it back,” Dave said. “I feel like I’m living what they weren’t able to live and my life is to help them. Since they weren’t able to live I’m trying to live some for them.”

From 2000 to 2006, Dave assisted veterans by serving as the Coshocton County Veterans Service Officer. During his time in that position one of his most memorable projects was the killed in action memorial bridges.

“That was real special to me, a lot of veterans and this whole community,” Dave said. “It was a community wide project with the (county) commissioners, the engineer’s office and the veteran’s community. It was a nice thing to be part of.”

He explained that the idea was brought up by Harold Howell and Bill Timmons and 96 bridges were named after fallen Coshocton County war heroes.

“We had fundraisers for this and all the money raised for it was from individuals,” Dave said. “No county money was used.”

While in this position, he also took great pride in helping veterans, widows and their dependents.

“I was able to help a lot of people in different ways,” Dave said. “I still remember a lady from Warsaw whose husband was a deceased Vietnam Veteran. She had been on welfare and was old enough for social security and didn’t know how she was going to go from one to the other. Judy King was our secretary then and she kept a lot of notes just like Patty does now and in those notes it looked like the husband had some sort of cancer that possibly could have been related to Agent Orange. I gave her a call, asked how her husband had died and ended up telling her to come in because I thought we had a claim we could file with his death being related to Agent Orange. She ended up getting a check (from the VA) for back money that was pretty substantial plus enough money and insurance to live comfortably. She only lived a couple of years after that, but she had lived a hard life after her husband died and was a hardened type of lady and this brought her to tears. I was glad I was able to help her for the little bit of time she had left.”

Dave left the veterans service office to serve as Coshocton’s county recorder and pursue another of his passions – politics.

“One of the reasons I went to fight for this country is for rights to vote and elect who we want,” he said. “I’m pretty passionate about elections.”

However, Dave also switched jobs because in 2004 he found out his wife Sheila had cancer and only had a couple of years left.

“The county recorder job gave me more time for her in end,” he said. “I didn’t feel I could put as much time and effort into the service office position as it needed.”

Even while Dave was there though, he continued to be involved with veterans and still was after he retired on Dec. 31, 2012 as county recorder.

He is very proud to have nominated the late Lewis Ed Baker, a World War II POW, to be included in the class of 2009 Ohio Veterans Hall of Fame.

“I was at a military funeral one day and he came up and said I needed to put my name in for it, but I decided I wanted to put his name in for it. He was basically my hero. I thought a lot of him. He was a real special guy. It took me two times submitting him for the hall of fame, but I’m thankful I was able to give him that for his time served.”

Baker also was one of the first Coshocton County Veterans Dave took on the Honor Flight. Honor Flights fly World War II and Korean War veterans for free to Washington, D.C. for the day to visit memorials dedicated to their service and others as time allows. They put terminally ill veterans from any era at the head of the line and are now accepting Vietnam War veterans for regular flights.

“I took five World War II guys on that first one,” David said.

He decided to get involved with the Honor Flight when attending the Circleville Pumpkin Festival.

“I was thinking about trying to grow a large pumpkin so I went down there and they have a parade during it and they had veterans from the Honor Flight take part,” Dave said. “I got to talking to them a little bit and they seemed to enjoy it so much.”

Since 2012, he has accompanied 52 veterans and 18 guardians on Honor Flights along with coordinating their lodging, meals and transportation.

“Those who have gone on it have become the best recruiters for Honor Flight,” Dave said. “Groups like the Blue Star Mothers, the Lions Club, the (veterans) county council and the Elks have been great at helping with meals and hotels. If someone from here wants to go on the Honor Flight there is money there to help them go.”

Veterans who take part in an Honor Flight fly out of John Glenn Columbus International Airport and are welcomed home by large crowds.

“The welcome home is so awesome,” Dave said. “Pushing a wheelchair and going through with those guys…it’s just wow. The guys have tears in their eyes and you realize you’ve done something for a person to make life a little bit better and made them feel better.”

Another way Dave serves veterans and their family is by serving on Coshocton’s Honor Guard, which performs military funerals for veterans.

“I’ve done more than 700 military funerals now,” he said. “When you present a flag to a veteran’s family member and see tears in their eyes, you know they are so grateful. It’s an honor to be part of and helps gives families a sense of how much their veteran’s time in the service really meant. Many times we’ve done walkthroughs at a funeral home and you will see a veteran’s discharge papers tucked into their casket with them.”

Dave also continues to encourage veterans to seek benefits through the VA.

“A lot of guys really have a hard time excepting something like that because they think they are taking away from someone else, but they aren’t,” he said. “I always tell them that’s not someone else’s. You earned it. No one is giving you anything. You have to fight hard to get what you’re eligible for.”

Dave is always looking for ways he can help others.

“Whenever I can help somebody it gives me energy to keep on going,” he said. “There are a lot of negatives in this world, but I try to put the positives in front of the negatives.”

Dave is married to Patty Dilly and he has two children, Kristi Tumblin and David Scott Dilly, a deceased son, John Sturtz, a stepdaughter, Lyndsi Gadd and four grandchildren.

“I’d like to thank Patty for sure for this honor and the community,” Dave said. “The community is what makes all the programs for veterans go. People here are very supportive of veterans’ issues. When I first got back from Vietnam you didn’t go out there and wear your hats saying you were a veteran. You just didn’t tell people. When I became the service officer I realized there were guys out there that were Vietnam Veterans that I didn’t even know they were. All that has changed now though, which is great. I’m thankful I live in this community. I was in the fifth grade when my family came here. I went away for a little bit and came back and it’s been the only place I wanted to be.”

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Category: People & Places

About the Author ()

I started my journalism career in 2002 with a daily newspaper chain. After various stops with them, I am happy to be back home! I graduated from Coshocton High School in 1998 and received a Bachelor of Arts in Communication in 2002 from Walsh University. I also earned several awards while working for daily papers, including being honored by Coshocton County’s veterans for the stories I wrote about them. I am honored and ready to once again shine a positive light on Coshocton County. I also am the proud mother of a little girl named Sophia!

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