Alumnus Establishes Kirksville as Home for Missouri National Guard Hall of Fame


The Missouri National Guard Hall of Fame was established in 2020 by a group of veteran volunteers, including Truman alumnus John Sastry (’88).

Sastry serves as the chief executive officer and chairman of the hall. He became involved in the project after he attempted to nominate a fellow member from his time in the service to the Missouri National Guard Hall of Fame.

“I had learned this soldier had passed away, and I wished to honor his memory,” Sastry said. “I contacted the National Guard to query where I could submit his nomination and they told me that they did not have a hall of fame. A hall had been talked about for years, but had been bogged down for several years due to politics.”

Sastry then filed articles of incorporations with the state of Missouri, recruited a diverse Board of Veteran Directors and formed a partnership with the city of Kirksville.

Several cities were interested, but Kirksville checked all of the boxes for him and the board of directors. They wanted a location outside of Jefferson City with a strong military connection. Kirksville is where John J. Pershing attended college before serving as the commander of the American Expeditionary Forces in World War I. The city is also the site of the Battle of Kirksville where Union forces defeated a Confederate regiment in 1862.

Kirksville also met their criteria for a community that was enthusiastic about the hall’s presence. When Sastry contacted the city they were advocates for the hall from the very first email he sent.

“I want to single out two important people who really made Kirksville a viable location for the hall,” Sastry said. “Debi Boughton, the director of tourism, who tirelessly advocated for us, and Blytha Ellis, the director of the Adair County Historical Society, who has provided us a temporary home.”

Sastry also has deep connections to Kirksville, which made the process all the more exciting for him. He was an enlisted member of the 1/128th Field Artillery (Battery B) in Kirksville while serving simultaneously as an Army ROTC cadet at Truman. The full board of directors and advisory board are made up of Truman graduates who were equally excited about the move. Among the full board of directors are Col. Nick Mikus (’75), Lt. Col. Tim Hartman (’89), Von Abbott (’79) and Steve Davis (’86), with Glenn Jacobs (’91) and Col. Clyde Johnson (’65) on the advisory board.

Until a permanent home is secured, the hall will be located at the Adair County Historical Society for two years. The board is working to establish a permanent location and hopes to have more news to share sometime at the end of next year.

The inaugural class will be inducted at 11 a.m. Oct. 1 at the Rieger Armory in Kirksville. This event is open to the public and is an opportunity to visit the newly established hall. Out of 10 finalists, a group will be selected and named at the ceremony. Students from Kirksville High School will be there to announce the selected inductees and read their biographies. Lt. Gov. Mike Kehoe will be the keynote speaker. The Army Brass Band will perform, and Truman ROTC and color guard will be in attendance as well. Monster Energy is sponsoring this event, and the first 150 attendees will receive a gift bag.

At the Adair County Historical Society visitors can expect to see plaques and informational exhibits commemorating the inductees. Those announced at the ceremony are individuals who have served in the Missouri National Guard and who have made a significant contribution to the National Guard’s achievements, tradition or history.
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