The Kansas National Guard will be adding three new names to its roster of distinguished Guardsmen during an induction ceremony for the Kansas National Guard Hall of Fame Nov. 3.
The ceremony will take place at Nickell Armory, 2722 SW Topeka Blvd., Topeka, KS beginning at 2 p.m.
This year’s inductees are the late Capt. James A. Naismith, the late Capt. William A. Smith, and retired Command Sgt. Maj. Joseph C. Romans.
“The history of the Kansas National Guard is made every day by such fine citizen soldiers as these who are being honored,” Gov. Laura Kelly said. “They did not seek fame, but earned it through their dedicated service. It is only fitting that we recognize them in this way.
“The recognition these soldiers are being given is well deserved,” said Maj. Gen. Lee Tafanelli, the adjutant general. “They served their state and nation with honor and distinction, and also enriched their communities through their selfless acts of service.”
Capt. James A. Naismith
Captain James A. Naismith served as a chaplain in the 1st Kansas Infantry, Kansas National Guard, on inactive duty in Kansas City, and on active duty during the Mexican Border War of 1916.
Because of his age and the fact that he was a Canadian citizen, he was ineligible for military service in World War I. That did not deter his desire to serve. He volunteered as a chaplain with the YMCA in the United States and in France, working to improve social hygiene, morale, and spirituality with the troops. He spent 19 months in France, a longer period than most American soldiers.
Naismith is most notably recognized as the inventor of the game of basketball. The Naismith National Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Massachusetts, was named in his honor. Naismith was also the first president of the International Basketball Federation, the founder of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics, and served on the faculty of the University of Kansas for 40 years. Many venues on the University of Kansas campus have been dedicated in his name, including a street, a living facility, and the basketball court in Allen Fieldhouse.
Capt. William A. Smith
Capt. William A. Smith served with distinction in the Kansas National Guard as a member of the Kansas Volunteer Infantry. He put his fledgling law practice on hold to enlist and serve in 1916 along the Mexican Border.
He later served his nation during World War I as a member of the 139th Infantry Regiment, 35th Infantry Division. He exemplified the Army values and the warrior ethos through his actions of valor during the Meuse-Argonne Offensive in September 1918.
In addition to his service record, Smith served in county and state legal leadership positions. The pinnacle of his public service was his 26 years on the Kansas Supreme Court, where he eventually ascended to the position of chief justice.
After retirement, he continued to give back to his community and future leaders in Kansas, often boarding law students needing room and board. Smith’s dedication to his nation displayed the utmost character and highest sense of duty and honor.
Retired Command Sgt. Maj. C. Joseph Romans
Retired Command Sgt. Maj. C. Joseph “Joe” Romans enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps in October 1969 and served as a corpsman for four years, then two years in the Navy Reserve. After a five-year break in service, he served again, working as a U.S. Air Force remote radar site civilian medical technician in Alaska.
In January 1987, Romans enlisted in the Kansas Army National Guard as an armor crewman with the 1st Battalion, 635th Armor. Throughout his nearly 22 years with the National Guard, he deployed in support of numerous operations. During that time, Romans spent 15 years as the noncommissioned officer in charge of the Kansas National Guard Counter-Drug Special Operations Group, supporting federal, state and local law enforcement agencies in counter narcotics operations. He was also the lead instructor and non commissioned officer in charge of the National Guard Bureau’s Counterdrug Ground Reconnaissance Training School. He was the command sergeant major of 1st Battalion, 635th Armor and the commandant for the 235th Regional Training Institute.
Romans retired in December 2008 with more than 30 years of military service. Throughout his time in uniform and into his retirement, he gave back to his community, state, and nation in many other ways.