Captain John Robert Young
Captain Young of Mena, U.S. Navy, Vietnam, awards include the Defense Superior Service medal, two awards of the Meritorious Service medal, and three awards of the Navy Commendation medal for valor. He commanded American Legion Post 18 in Mena for 12 years, and was the Mena/Polk County “Citizen of the Year”.
Captain Young entered military service as a midshipman at the United States Naval Academy with the Class of 1969. Following graduation and selection for Naval Aviation training, he successfully earned his “Wings of Gold” in December 1970 as a helicopter pilot. His “winging” ceremony included the presentation of orders to the Navy’s only helicopter gunship squadron headquartered in the Mekong Delta of the Republic of Vietnam. As an attack helicopter aircraft commander and fire team leadr4er in Vietnam. Captain Young flew 439 combat missions in support of ground and riverine forces; including several intense SEAL operations and medical evacuation missions.
Captain Young’s aviation operational history was unique in that he served in seven consecutive operational squadrons flying helicopters, attack jet aircraft and multi-engine aircraft. His sea tours included two Western Pacific tours with LAMPS (Light Airborne Multi-Purpose System) flying from small destroyers and frigates. He was the youngest junior officer appointed as Officer-In-Charge of a forward deployed LAMPS detachment.
Following retirement from the U.S. Navy after over twenty-six years of commissioned service, Captain Young settled in Mena, Arkansas in 1995 where he and Peggy, his wife of forty-six years, have enjoyed small-town country living and becoming part of a great community.
Captain Young’s contributions to the community began almost immediately as he volunteered with the local youth sports programs and serving seniors with the Tax Counseling for the Elderly Program with AARP. He soon started more extensive volunteer service in Mena with Healthy Connections, a new start-up non-profit organization he founded. Working with child abuse and pregnant and parenting teens programs. His tem quickly recognized the critical need for affordable medical and dental care for people in poverty in and around the community. He also was the founding Chief Executive Officer of Healthy Connections. During his tenure, he wrote grant proposals that totaled over $11,000,000 in federal, state and corporate support for this non-profit organization. Healthy Connections, Inc. currently provides quality service in five separate locations in Polk, Montgomery, and Garland Counties and employs nearly 100 employees serving over 17,000 patients a year.
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