Widow can't use Fallen Heroes license plate

Posted at 2:00 PM, Mar 16, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-16 23:34:18-04

An Olathe woman given a Fallen Heroes license plate for her late veteran husband has had it taken away from her.

Ronald G. Davis served in the U.S. Army in Korea and three tours of duty in Vietnam as a civil engineer in the Air Force. 

By 2008, he had a series of health issues that doctors said were related to exposure to the chemical Agent Orange in Vietnam.

"He weighed 215 when we found out about the disease,” said Martha Davis, Ronald’s widow. “He weighed about 65 pounds when he died. It was awful."

After her husband's death, Davis moved from Joplin to Olathe. 

When she went to get a Kansas license plate and told the clerk about her husband, she was given a “Families of the Fallen” plate to honor her husband, who was a native Kansan.

"I didn’t ask for it. I got it, and I drove to Joplin and everybody said 'Oh, wow,'” she said.

That pride didn’t last long.

After Martha received the plate, the state asked her to provide more information about herself and her husband.

Then, because Ronald didn’t die in conflict while he was on active duty, she was ruled ineligible for the plate.

She was also told she couldn’t drive with it and would have to replace it.

"I said, 'You mean after 25 years in the service and being injured, suffering such a terrible death, that he’s not considered a fallen hero?'”, said Davis.

Kansas records show the state only issued 51 Families of the Fallen plates out of more than 630,000 plates statewide in 2015.

To date in 2016, the state has issued only two new Families of the Fallen plates.

A Johnson County Vehicle Supervisor, who originally gave Davis the plate, said in a statement: “It’s worth noting that the Kansas Department of Revenue created this form and sets the policies and procedures related to issuing specialized license plates.”

Regardless of the license plate, Davis considers her husband a fallen hero.

"I think they need to recognize everybody that has fallen due to being in combat,” Davis said.

While Ronald Davis was not killed in action, doctors ruled his death was service related.

Davis says she and her husband were married 50 years the day he died.


Andy Alcock can be reached at

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