Starke County’s most decorated veteran is the recipient of another honor. PFC Frank Ono is among the latest South Shore Wall of Legends inductees. The wall is located at the Indiana Welcome Center in Hammond.
Ono distinguished himself as a member of the U.S. Army’s Nisei 442nd Regimental Combat Team during World War II. During a July 4, 1944 battle near Castellina, Italy, Ono advanced ahead of his unit and single-handedly defended his position against an enemy counter-attack. He then braved intense hostile fire to aide two wounded comrades and voluntarily covered his unit’s withdrawal when retreat became necessary. Ono was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for his heroic actions. During the 1990s, a review of service records for Asian Americans who received the Distinguished Service Cross led to Ono’s award being upgraded to the Medal of Honor. President Bill Clinton presented the award to his surviving family members during a White House ceremony on June 21, 2000.
Starke County Economic Development Foundation Executive Director Charlie Weaver nominated Ono for the honor. His fellow inductees include retired astronaut Frank Borman, who was born in Gary; LaPorte County visionary, connector and pioneer Neil P. Ruzic and Dr. William M. Scholl, who was born on a LaPorte dairy farm, learned to make shoes with his grandfather’s cobbler tools and invented more than 1,000 foot aids before establishing the Scholl Manufacturing Company with his brother. A panel of judges representing the seven counties of the region selected this year’s honorees.