DuQuoin – The Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs (IDVA) today named Marion resident and U.S. Air Force Veteran Col. George D. Hagans as the State of Illinois’ August 2009 “Veteran of the Month” for his undivided dedication to the state’s military heroes and his local community.
The “Veteran of the Month” award is a distinction that is given monthly to military Veterans who give back to their community and continue to serve other Veterans. IDVA Assistant Director Sergio Estrada presented Hagans with the prestigious award this afternoon during a special ceremony at the DuQuoin State Fair.
“Col. George Hagans is an exceptional Illinois Veteran, who continues to put the needs of the community above himself. He proudly served in the Air Force for 25 years, earning many distinguished military honors,” IDVA Assistant Director Sergio Estrada said. “He is a true advocate and friend to Illinois Veterans and has continued to serve his country and his community in Southern Illinois. I am extremely proud that today we honor and thank Mr. Hagans for his service.”
Col. Hagans served in the United States Air Force from 1958-1983, piloting B-47 and B-52 aircraft and later serving as a pilot trainer/instructor with the South Vietnamese Air Force flying AC-47 ‘Dragonships’ and A-1 fighters. He later served as a designated advance agent for Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford, and earned the Legion of Merit, Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal and Bronze Star, among other military honors.
After leaving the Air Force, Col. Hagans became a vice-president of Simmons Airlines, which eventually expanded to five states and became part of American Airlines. Col. Hagans, a resident of Marion for more than a decade, has served his community as a member of the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars and was president of the Southern Illinois/Little Egypt Chapter of the Military Officers Association of America. He was the leading force behind the formation of the “Veterans on Parade” celebration in Marion, which has grown to more than 15,000 participants and spectators.
He is a popular public speaker on behalf of the military, having been the previous keynote speaker for Veterans’ Day activities at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, Memorial Day commemorations and general leadership presentations to ROTC detachments. He is known as “The Old Aviator” and dresses in the attire of a World War I aviator when speaking at local events
Col. Hagans was born on Dec. 2, 1936, in Denison, Texas and lives in Marion with his wife, Nancy.
The “Veteran of the Month” award highlights the work of community activists who are also military Veterans. Each month the Department recognizes a different person or group that contributes to the betterment of communities across the state of Illinois. To nominate a “Veteran of the Month,” please visit IDVA’s website at veterans.illinois.gov or call IDVA at (312) 814-5538 to obtain a list of guidelines and a nomination form.