The family of Russell E. Byrkett, 94, is saddened to announce his passing on September 23, 2020 in the comfort of his home surrounded by his loving family. Russell was born in Whitestown, Indiana to parents, Oliver “Ollie” Byrkett and Iona Pitts Byrkett.
On October 12, 2001, he married his beloved wife, Lois Akins Byrkett at Immanuel Lutheran Church.
Russell had a long and rewarding military career. He enlisted in the United States Navy when he was 17 years old in 1942 and served until 1946. He was discharged from the Navy with the rank of Boatswain Mate 1st Class. While in the Navy he earned the Purple Heart, Navy Good Conduct Medal, American Theatre, European African Theatre, 1 Bronze Star, Philippine Liberation, 2 Bronze Stars, Navy President Citation, 1 Bronze Star, Philippine President Unit Citation, a WII Victory Medal and the Occupation Ribbon Japan. After leaving the Navy, he entered the United States Army Air Corp (Air Force) and served from 1947 to 1948, earning the rank of Staff Sergeant.
Russell then joined the United States Army and served from 1948 until his retirement in 1972 achieving the rank of Command Sergeant Major. His time served in the Army was in the Airborne, Infantry, Armor, and Special Forces. He served in Korea for three tours, earning a Silver Star, Bronze Star, 2 awards with Oakleaf Cluster, Korean Suc Medal with one Silver Star (5 awards), 2 Bronze stars, a total of seven United Nation Ribbons, Korean President Unit Citation Ribbon, Combat Infantry Badge, 1 Star on Parachute Airborne Jump, Badge for one Combat, Airborne Jump, President Unit Citation (Army), Oakleaf Cluster for 2nd award and the Naval Defense Su Medal.
He then served in Vietnam and earned the Oakleaf Cluster Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal for 1 tour Vietnam, Suc Medal, 2 Bronze Stars, Vietnam Puc, 2nd Award Combat Infantry Badge, 2nd Star to Parachute Badge for Combat Jump, Master Parachute Badge, 3rd Oakleaf Cluster to Bronze Star, Oakleaf Cluster to National Defense Su Medal 3rd, Oakleaf Cluster to Army President Unit Citation, and the Army Commendation Medal.
In addition, he earned Master Parachute Badge with 235 jumps, 122 as Jump Master, 2 combat jumps, the Army Good Conduct Medal with 8 loops, and the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal with 3 Oakleaf Clusters for Bay of Pigs, Lebanon, Vietnam and DMZ Korea.
While in the military, he finished high school and attended the following schools: Ordnance School, Special Forces Jungle Parachute Jump School, Jump Master School, and Armor Officer Basic. He also finished 2 years of college while in the Army. Russell served a total of 8 years in Germany, 3 years in Korea, 3 years in the Pacific area, 1 year in Japan, 1 year in Alaska, 1 year in Bermuda, 6 months in Greenland, 1 year in Vietnam and many short tours of 2 to 6 month with the Special Forces for a total of 19 1/2 years of overseas duty.
Russell was the Commander for 9 years at the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Post 1925 and a charter and lifetime member of the American Legion #410 in Whitestown, Indiana.
Those who mourn the loss of Russell are his wife, Lois; his children, Jane (Larry) Gregg, Scott (Jeanne) Akins, and Barbara Robertson Grover; 4 grandchildren; 8 great grandchildren; 3 great-great grandchildren; and sisters Dorothy Jones and Emma Shelton.
He was preceded in death by his parents; his brother Jim Byrkett; his brother William Byrkett; his sister, Wilma Nelson, and sister Louise Stump.
Funeral services for Russell will be held at Immanuel Lutheran Church on Monday, September 28, 2020 at 11:00 am with Reverend Ralph Blomenberg officiating. Full military honors will be at Indiana Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Madison, Indiana at 2:30 p.m. Family and friends may pay their respects on Monday from 9:30 a.m. until the time of service. Face masks are respectfully required at all services.
At the family’s request, in lieu of flowers, memorials honoring Russell maybe written to Indiana Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Madison or Immanuel Lutheran Church Stain Glass Window Fund, in care of Voss & Sons Funeral Service.
Please visit the funeral home website at www.vossfuneralservice.com to leave condolences for the family.