Two men with Gainesville ties are set to be inducted posthumously into the Georgia Military Veterans Hall of Fame Nov. 4 in Columbus.
The Army veterans are Lt. Alexander Ramsey Nininger Jr., who was born in Gainesville in 1918 but grew up in Florida; and Lt. Col. Rembert Gary Rollison, who was born in Jesup in 1943 and grew up in Hinesville, but is buried in Gainesville and was married to Martha White of Gainesville.
“Their framed photos, together with those of the 66 previously selected members, will be prominently displayed on the Heroes’ Wall of the Floyd Building in the State Capitol complex,” said Army Col. Paul Longgrear, founder of the nonprofit hall of fame.
Nininger was commissioned a second lieutenant upon graduation from the U. S. Military Academy at West Point. In 1942, he was dispatched to the Philippine Islands near Abucay, Bataan.
“Although assigned to another company not then engaged in combat, he voluntarily attached himself to a unit that was being attacked by an enemy force superior in firepower,” states a press release about the inductions.
In hand-to-hand fighting that followed, Nininger “repeatedly forced his way into the hostile position,” the release states. “Though exposed to heavy enemy fire, he continued to attack with rifle and hand grenades, thereby destroying several enemies in sniper and foxhole positions.”
He was wounded three times but continued attacking through enemy lines until he was killed.
The U.S. Navy built and named a victory ship in his honor in 1945. The ship continued in service until 1969.
Rollison was commissioned as a second lieutenant in 1966, completing Infantry Officer Basic Course, Airborne and Ranger schools the same year.
His first combat duty was with the 25th Infantry Division in Vietnam, where he was cited for heroic actions during Operation Junction City in Tay Ninh. He was awarded the Bronze Star Medal and Vietnamese Gallantry Cross with Silver Star.
Rollison left the service in 1968, only to return the next year to join the 101st Airborne Division. During a siege in Vietnam with the 101st, he fought in the Battle at Firebase Ripcord. For his leadership actions during three weeks of intense combat, he was awarded two Silver Stars and the Soldier’s Medal.
He went on to serve in other Army tours in a career that lasted until 1987.
Rollison died of cancer in 2000 and was buried with full military honors by fellow rangers in Gainesville.
Nominations for inductions come from different sources, with Cornelia-based Hilliard A. Wilbanks Foundation seeking Nininger to be named to the hall of fame.
“We think this is very important to do,” said Alan DeWitt, who, with wife Patricia, are foundation directors. “There’s a lot of guys who go into the military and come back home to their families, and there are others who have given their life … in extraordinary ways.”
Particularly related to Nininger, “the heroes that receive the Medal of Honor posthumously get forgotten,” DeWitt said. “We’re trying to make sure that doesn’t happen.”