John Toth's Honor Bell Artifacts

John Toth

John Toth

John F. Toth was born in Allentown Pennsylvania. In 1949, after graduating high school, he enlisted in the Army, doing his basic training in the Heavy Mortar Company at Fort Lewis Washington. Toth was due for discharge in August 1950 but when the Korean War started in June 1950, President Truman ordered all enlistments be extended. He was deployed to Korea, a member of the 2nd Infantry Division, 38th Infantry Regiment, 1st Battalion, D company, Private 1st Class.

On Thanksgiving night 1950, Toth was captured by the Chinese at Kunu-ri. He escaped one night in December, running through the snow without any shoes. After re-joining his company, they were ambushed at Pyongyang — suffering heavy losses — machine gunned and mortared from the hills, where he was wounded.

Returning to civilian life, John married Dorothy Ann Bobal, went back to school on the G.I. bill, while raising four children. Starting in the mail room at Western Electric he worked his way up the corporate ladder. His career spanned 30 years with the Bell System telecommunications company, retiring in 1989 while working as a respected liaison to the Federal Government. He never spoke much of his experiences during the Korean War, but found great friendship, community and purpose in the military organizations he later joined.

Toth's Regimental Insignia Pin

Toth's Regimental Insignia Pin

Toth's family has donated his regimental and division insignia pins for inclusion in the metal that will be cast into The Honor Bell.

Join us on March 24th in Littleton to dedicate artifacts from John's service, along with those from eleven other servicemembers. There will be a screening of the movie Taking Chance, and more. Purchase your tickets here.

Julian Dracon's Honor Bell Artifact

Dracon, during his navy Career

Dracon, during his navy Career

Julian Dracon was born in 1933. After graduating from high school in Billings, Montana, he enlisted in the Navy in 1950. Over the duration of his military career, he travelled the world, living in Hawaii and Japan. While in the Navy he obtained a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Colorado in 1975.

Dracon's Navy Commendation Medal

Dracon's Navy Commendation Medal

Early in Julian's naval career, he met his future wife, Betty. After a three-year, long-distance courtship, Julian and Betty were married in 1955. They raised three children while stationed at numerous posts, eventually settling in the Denver area. After 26 years of service, Dracon retired with the rank of Master Chief, Lithographer. He stayed active in veterans' organizations, and founded the Navy Lithographers Association. He also created Jiffy Reproduction and Duplicating, operating it for 42 years.

Dracon's family is donating his Navy Commendation Medal for inclusion into the metal that will be used in casting the Honor Bell. Join us on March 24th in Littleton to dedicate artifacts from Julian's service, along with those from eleven other servicemembers. There will be a screening of the movie Taking Chance, and more. Purchase your tickets here.

A Vet's Story: Bill Daniels

Bill Daniels on the wing of a Grumman F8F Bearcat.

Bill Daniels on the wing of a Grumman F8F Bearcat.

As a pioneer in cable television, Robert W. “Bill” Daniels left a large footprint on the landscape of Colorado business and industry after a distinguished career as a Naval aviator. Bill was born in Greeley, Colorado, in 1920. As a child, Bill and the Daniels family moved to Nebraska and Iowa, eventually settling in New Mexico. Bill excelled at the New Mexico Military Institute and was New Mexico’s Golden Gloves welterweight boxing champion two years in a row.

After high school, he enrolled in the Navy’s V-7 program, fast-tracking his training and allowing him to enter the Navy as a pilot in just 11 months. As a combat pilot, he flew a Grumman F4F Wildcat in the Allied Invasion of North Africa in 1942 and a Chance Vought Corsair in the Solomon Islands area of the Pacific theatre in 1943.

He was awarded the Bronze Star for “heroism, courage, and devotion to duty,” making repeated trips to rescue wounded shipmates after a Japanese kamikaze attack on the aircraft carrier USS Intrepid in November 1944. After war, he returned to private life, only to serve again during the Korean War, piloting a Grumman F9 Panther.

After the Korean War, he became one of the first people to get into the long-distance television broadcast business by setting up a microwave feed of local Denver broadcasting to Casper, Wyoming, where it was distributed through his cable television network. He expanded into the brokering and financing side of the cable television business, with Daniels and Associates becoming one of the largest firms in the field by the mid-1960s. By 1988, Daniels’ cable network was ranked among the top 25 multiple system operators in the United States.

Daniels, with his boxing background, retained a love of sports. Among the many sports interests he pursued, Daniels was co-owner of the Los Angeles Lakers as well as the American Basketball Association’s president. Daniels was very philanthropic, creating the Young American’s Bank and working with the University of Denver to integrate courses in business ethics, personal integrity, and values into the university’s business curriculum; the business school there now carries Daniels’ name. In 1997, Daniels created the Daniels Fund to invest in nonprofits throughout Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming (including the Honor Bell Foundation), as well as provide scholarships to college students in those states.

Bill believed that his wealth was best spent leaving a legacy and making a difference.  He served his country as a young man and later in life made a remarkable contribution to his community with his philanthropy and support of education.