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The National Center for Simulation announced the 2015 class for the Modeling and Simulation Hall of Fame: Lieutenant Colonel (Ret) Earle L. Denton, Åsmund S. Lærdal, Henry “Hank” C. Okraski and Colonel (Ret) James E. Shifflet. The inductees — all pioneers, visionaries and leaders in the development and advancement of modeling, simulation and training technologies will be recognized at a ceremony at the Orange County Convention Center on May 12.
However, one of the inductees, Earle L. Denton, was honored early in a ceremony on February 11, at the Rio Pinar Country Club in Orlando, Fla. About 200 friends and family members attended the ceremony and learned about Denton’s history, glimpses of his life from his early years as a second lieutenant to the present.
Orange County Mayor Theresa Jacobs paid tribute to her friend in a moving acknowledgment of his impact and leadership on her life.
Later, Lt. Gen. (Ret) Tom Baptiste explained to the attendees the importance of the Hall of Fame and gave a summary of the first 10 inductees before introducing the induction ceremony.
“The induction of 10 early leaders in our inaugural ceremony in 2014, gave us insight to early adopters of modeling and simulation,” stated Baptiste, president and CEO of NCS. “Today, we recognize a local hero, who over his lifetime, has continued to make an impact on our world of modeling, simulation and training.”
Mary Trier, an NCS Board member, then recounted Denton’s inspirational story, which captured the attention of his friends and family. Excerpts of the story follow.
“Just three years after the 1950 signing of the Interservice agreement between the Army and Navy – the foundation upon which Team Orlando is built, a young Army Second Lieutenant Denton, approximately 22 years old, found out what it meant to be a leader. He was up to the task,” Trier said.
The place was South Korea and the US Army was struggling to regain control of a strategic location called Pork Chop Hill. No doubt, she suggested, Denton was aware of the fighting that had already taken place on Pork Chop Hill, where Easy Company had been under ferocious attack by the enemy and lost about two-thirds of its men in the battle. The company commander had radioed for artillery fire and reinforcements.
The battalion commander ordered 3rd Platoon of Love Company, under Denton, to “reinforce.” He was to lead his men to Hill 200 to meet with F Company. His platoon was mortared in the approach and when he got to Hill 200, F Company was not there. Denton led his men as ordered — to reinforce.
“Imagine that strategic position — Pork Chop Hill — a vital position for the U.S. Army, surrounded on three sides by the enemy. It was under fierce attack,” said Trier.
“In the fog of war, with men’s lives on the line, Earle did not waver. As I imagine a young 22 year old, devastation all around, I think about how Earle must have felt. Fear for his comrades, and himself. But Earle was brave, he was smart and he was a leader.”
In addition to his service in the Korean War, Denton commanded the 1st Battalion, 18th Infantry, 1st Infantry Division in Vietnam. He retired from active duty in 1973. During his military career, he received a number awards and decorations including the Silver Star, Purple Heart, Combat Infantryman badge and the Korean Ambassador of Peace and Appreciation medallions.
“It is my firm belief that these experiences were instrumental in creating that burning desire in Earle Denton to contribute to the development and deployment of superior training devices and simulations, in a way preparing future forces for what they may encounter on the real battlefield.
In his pursuits, throughout his military and civilian career, Earle has focused on that passion, and I believe it has been his life’s calling –- how to prepare the men and women of the U.S. Army –– and how to bring them home,” Trier added.
Denton continued his service after retirement for more than 40 years. As an inductee, he was recognized for his mentorship to leaders in the Modeling, Simulation and Training field, as well as the local, state and national government officials. Following his Hall of Fame induction, Denton was also awarded the Order of Saint Maurice medal from the Army.
Upon receiving both honors, slowly and with evident humility, Denton walked to the podium to make a few comments. “I only hope I can live up to this award,” he said.
Expressing the same sentiments as many guests in the room, Col. (Sel) Walt Yates, Program Manager Training Systems, commented, “Today was the first time that I had heard the details of the actions for which Earle received the Silver Star i.e. fighting an enemy on three sides at very close range and calling in artillery on his own position (see historical overview). That’s true courage and commitment. It is an honor to be in his presence and a privilege to have attended the celebration today.”
Earle L. Denton is an American patriot, a true American hero, and now a Hall of Fame Inductee, Class of 2015.
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