Riley 3HANSON, Ky. (7/11/18) — It was a routine day for U.S. Army World War II POW Dudley Riley — so he thought — as he walked down the hallway at the Joseph “Eddie” Ballard Western Kentucky Veterans Center this morning.

He did not expect to enter into a roomful of visitors while patriotic music was played during his surprise Purple Heart Medal presentation.

The veteran’s eyes lit up and the people applauded. Three of his children, Pam Henderson, Mike Riley and Phyllis Caldwell and wife, Ruth, along with several nieces, nephews and grandchildren were among the gathering. American Legion Post 6 Honor Guard presented the nation’s colors.

The Dawson Springs native smiled, saying to his family, “I really can’t believe this is happening.”

The family said Riley thought he was going to Greenville for therapy today, and the celebration was a total surprise.

Kentucky Department of Veterans Affairs Commissioner, Brig. Gen. Benjamin F. Adams III, pinned the medal onto Riley’s decorative vest.

“Dudley, when you woke up this morning, you didn’t think you were going to have this kind of party, did you?" Adams said as Riley entered the room. ”This is a day of recognition for a true American hero.”

After his military service, Riley continued to serve at the national level, Adams remarked.

“One of the things the military failed to do is recognize an action while you were a prisoner of war,” the general said … “he was never recognized with this Purple Heart.”

Riley 2

Adams said after the ceremony that local Veteran Benefits Representative Johnny Allen was instrumental in processing the Purple Heart award for Riley. The Purple Heart can only be awarded to those injured by opposing armed forces during service in the U.S. military. Many soldiers were injured and his information got lost in the shuffle.

“He’s a good soldier,” Adams said.

Riley noted his wife listened in on several war stories exchanged among other POWs at previous national conventions that led her to purchase a tape recorder for him, which was the first step toward him penning his book in 2005, titled, “Farm Boy, Soldier, Daddy — The Journey that Led Him to Where He is Today.”

“I started talking, and she said I haven’t stopped,” Riley told the crowd.

Dudley 1

HIs children said their father’s feet froze during marches while being held prisoner, and was not provided with any shoes to wear. The damage has had a lasting effect. Growing up, his children also mentioned their father never spoke about his experience as a POW.

Riley’s service:

In 1940, Riley, a young man from Hopkins County, volunteered for service in the U.S. Army. On Feb. 17, 1943, he was captured by Gen. Erwin “Desert Fox” Rommels’ forces in North Africa, and was transferred to a German prison camp near Berlin, where he was held in captivity for two and a half years. He was released April 26, 1945.

Staff Sgt. Riley remained active after his honorable discharge from the Army in addressing veterans’ issues. He served as Chapter Commander for the Western Kentucky Chapter of American Ex-Prisoners of War, State Commander for Kentucky and National Director of the American Ex-Prisoners of War, East Central Region and other titles. He continues to serve as Dawson Springs VFW Post Commander. A bridge over the Tradewater River was named after Riley in 2004.

Doreen Dennis
SurfKY News Director
Region 2

sitelogosm© Copyright 2008 - 2018 SurfKY News Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
This material may not be published, broadcast, or rewritten without permission.

Click here to subscribe to receive daily updates by email.

Most Read This Week...

Sep 17, 2018 6407

Muhlenberg Grand Jury Indictments Handed Down

by SurfKY News
Sep 18, 2018 5543

Teens Injured after Vehicle Accident Near Mortons Gap

by Ladonna Kay Lee
Sep 16, 2018 5239

UPDATE: Ky. 181S Accident Victim Uninjured

by Paul Moore
Sep 18, 2018 4894

Madisonville City Council Debates Public Street Closure for LGBT Event

by Doreen Dennis, SurfKY News
Sep 16, 2018 3355

Daviess County D-League Combine Set for Sept. 24

by Steve LeMaster
Sep 18, 2018 3242

Arrest Made in Alleged Area Burglaries

by Rita Dukes Smith, SurfKY News Director
Sep 17, 2018 2431

Pursuit in Hopkinsville Ends in Suspect's Death

by Doreen Dennis, SurfKY News
Sep 17, 2018 1519

UPDATE: U.S. 68 Bypass at Pennyrile Exit 6 Reopen after Crash

by Doreen Dennis, SurfKY News
Sep 16, 2018 1222

DAVE SAYS: Don't Make Rash Decision about Job

by SurfKY News
Sep 16, 2018 1212

OUTDOOR TRUTHS: Most Valuable Things Close to Home

by SurfKY News

Most Read This Month

Sep 10, 2018 14384

Fight in Rural King Results in Madisonville Man's Arrest

by Doreen Dennis, SurfKY News
Sep 03, 2018 13977

UPDATE: Pedestrian Struck by Train in Henderson Dies of Injuries

by Nick Risley, SurfKY News

Weather brought to you by

91°
32°
°F | °C
Mostly Sunny
Humidity: 44%
Tue
Scattered Thunderstorms
69 | 93
20 | 33
Wed
Thunderstorms
69 | 94
20 | 34
Thu
Sunny
72 | 95
22 | 35
Fri
Thunderstorms
72 | 90
22 | 32

Stories Trending Today

Mortons Gap 9 18
Sep 18, 2018 5543

Teens Injured after Vehicle Accident Near Mortons Gap

by Ladonna Kay Lee
IMG 0471
Sep 18, 2018 5239

UPDATE: Ky. 181S Accident Victim Uninjured

by Paul Moore
cityhall1 300
Sep 18, 2018 4894

Madisonville City Council Debates Public Street Closure for LGBT Event

by Doreen Dennis, SurfKY News
fleming arrest
Sep 18, 2018 3242

Arrest Made in Alleged Area Burglaries

by Rita Dukes Smith, SurfKY News Director

Market Report

Market Report brought to you by