Richard Norwood is a retired Naval Aviator who served with distinction in key leadership roles on land and sea for over 31 years. During his time in the Navy, Norwood accumulated over 7,000 mission-related hours locating, tracking, and restricting Soviet submarines during the Cold War. Additionally, the squadron he commanded received over 300 mission-related accolades during this time. After his leadership and innovative techniques were noticed and applauded, Norwood was chosen to lead a Bonus Command that trained all P-3 Orion, the Navy’s lead anti-submarine warfare aircraft, aviators and crewmen. His success during this assignment got him noticed. The Pentagon came calling and offered him a senior staff position leading a fleet of P-3 Orions. He was personally responsible for 6 squadrons, 54 aircraft, and over 2,000 aviators and crewmen. His fleet was instrumental in aiding the end of the Cold War. Since his retirement from the Navy, Norwood has worked with a number of aerospace companies as Vice President and Director/Consultant for Domestic and International Business Development. With an extensive resume that has taken him from the cockpit to the boardroom, Norwood displays leadership qualities and accolades that are hard to come by. His dedication to country and cause is unparalleled, and we are honored to have him as our first recipient of the Hats Off To Heroes 2018/19 award!
November 25th, 2018
Richard Huffman is a retired Army combat medic who served two tours in Vietnam between 1969 and 1971. During his military service, he fought with the 2nd/12th First Air Calvary and received a number of accolades that included the Combat Medical Badge, Air Medal, Bronze Star, and Army Commendation Medal for Valor. Upon returning home, Richard protected his community as a Sheriff’s Deputy in Newton, Kansas. An honorable veteran and die-hard Wichita State fan, Richard said that he was “proud and honored to serve my country” and to “never forget!” Richard put his life on the line to protect his comrades on the battlefield and his fellow citizens in his hometown. His selfless display of sacrifice for county and community is nothing short of inspiring. We thank him for his years of service and are honored to present him with the second Hats Off To Heroes award of the season!
December 1st, 2018
Jessie Woodrow is a 7-year sergeant with the Kechi Police Department. Through her years of service for the Kechi community, she has come to be known as someone who is always rising above challenges. In October 2018, Jessie was unfortunately diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer. A fighter at heart, Jessie continues to protect and serve full time while undergoing chemotherapy treatments. Always looking to extend a helping hand, Jessie and her family also provide bullet-proof vests to police K-9’s through their non-profit, the Four-Legged Project. Her insatiable desire to help those around her combined with her fighting spirit to never give up are just two reasons she deserves to be recognized as the latest Hats Off To Heroes award recipient! We thank her for her service throughout the years and encourage her to never stop smiling!
December 12th, 2018
Michael Gann is a Marine Corp Colonel with over 35 years of worldwide service. Colonel Gann fought multiple combat tours that included the Gulf War, Somalia, Iraq, and Afghanistan conflicts. Colonel Gann received numerous awards throughout his service including the Defense Superior Service Medal, the Legion of Merit, and the Bronze Star. Colonel Gann displayed exceptionally superior service during his time as Director, Indo-Pacific Directorate, Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency. Gann managed and assisted in the accounting of missing Americans from the nation’s previous conflicts within the Indo-Pacific region. He executed over 247 missions throughout the area in addition to diplomatic engagements. Colonel Gann’s long service to this country has not gone unnoticed. He has helped maintain the security of our nation through some of it’s most difficult times. We sincerely appreciate everything Colonel Gann has done for this nation and his community!
Paxton & Maggie Ballard
Wednesday, December 19
Change can start with one idea. That’s what happened with Maggie Ballard while scrolling through Facebook. After seeing the concept of mini-libraries posted on busy street corners where residents could take or leave books, Maggie and Paxton Ballard thought of a similar idea to help Wichita’s less fortunate. This is where Paxton’s Blessing Box was born. These free-standing pantries are stocked with anything from canned goods to hygiene products and are accessible to anyone in need. In October 2016, the Ballards set up their first blessing box. Two years later they have 44 locations in Wichita and the surrounding area. One box goes through nearly $100 a day; which is completely funded by donations from the surrounding community. With their goal to have at least one box in every state, Paxton and Maggie have no intention of stopping in Kansas. Feel free to check out their Facebook page here!