Evan Williams Reveals 2023 American-Made Heroes

The Evan Williams 2023 American-Made Heroes veterans small batch
The Evan Williams 2023 American-Made Heroes.

Evan Williams Bourbon has announced the 2023 class of veterans selected as American-Made Heroes, recognized as making a difference in their communities and across the country. New this year, the American Hero Edition product will now be a limited release of Evan Williams 1783 Small Batch Bourbon, with each selected veteran featured on a hangtag that adorns more than 135,000 bottles nationwide.

Evan Williams 1783 Small Batch is named for the year that Evan Williams founded the Kentucky distillery. This year’s American Hero Edition Bourbon was selected by the 2023 Evan Williams American-Made Heroes straight from the barrels.

Evan Williams 1783 Small Batch American Hero Edition comes bottled at 90 proof. The suggested retail price is $22.99 for the 750-ml. and $36.99 for the 1.75-L.

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Each of the six selected veterans are affiliated with organizations that were recipients of the 2022 Veteran Community Action Grants awarded by the Evan Williams American-Made Heroes Foundation Fund. First established in 2020, the American-Made Heroes Foundation Fund continues the brand’s support of veteran communities via its Evan Williams American-Made Heroes program, established in 2015.

To date, Evan Williams has recognized 54 veteran heroes through the American Hero Edition bottles and has donated $525,000 to nonprofits supporting the veteran community across the country.

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“As the second-largest selling bourbon in the world, we are proud to honor the 2023 American-Made Heroes, who have served our country with courage and dedication,” says Molly Vincent, Evan Williams Bourbon Senior Brand Manager. “The purpose of the foundation is not only to provide a platform for sharing their inspiring stories, but also raising public awareness for causes impacting the veteran community and supporting nonprofit organizations that help veterans and their families.”

With distillery-provided notes, the 2023 Evan Williams American-Made Heroes are:

Brian Barber

Oxnard, California

Sergeant E5, U.S. Marine Corps

Inspired by his grandfather, a U.S. Navy cook, Brian enlisted in the Marine Corps as a radio operator, keeping squadrons and artillery units in constant communication with each other to ensure their safety. After being honorably discharged because of a chronic back condition, Brian remained steadfast in his determination to give back to others. In 2015, he founded Mission FISH (Fishing, Interacting, Sharing and Healing) which gives participants the opportunity to develop a community and embrace the healing qualities of nature through group fishing trips. During these expeditions, veterans can connect with each other and share their experiences. To learn more about Mission FISH, visit missionfishusa.org

Chaz Koch

Niantic, Connecticut

Petty Officer 3rd Class, U.S. Navy

Chaz was literally and figuratively born into the military. His father was stationed at the Naval Air Station in Keflavik, Iceland, where Chaz was born, though he grew up on the shores of Connecticut. Ultimately, Chaz also found his home in the U.S. Navy. During his tenure, Chaz served as a Master-at-Arms Petty Officer, 3rd Class, in Georgia and Bahrain, and earned the prestigious rank of Expert Marksman in both the pistol and the rifle. In Kings Bay, Georgia, he was an Assistant Squad Leader and PT Coordinator. After completing his service, Chaz coupled his passion for animals with his desire to help those in need and co-founded Operation Paws on the Ground, a nonprofit that rescues dogs from high-kill shelters, trains them to provide support as service animals, and pairs them with veterans in need. This organization also hires veterans as trainers, allowing them to experience the emotional fulfillment of working with animals while securing employment. Learn more about how Chaz and Operation Paws on the Ground are changing the lives of veterans and rescue dogs at operationpawsontheground.org.

David E. McCracken

Wake Forest, North Carolina

Colonel, U.S. Army (Ret.)

David served in the Army for nearly three decades. He rose to the rank of commander of the 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne) and won several awards, including the Combat Infantryman Badge. He was also named a Distinguished Member of the 1st Special Forces Regiment. After retiring, David learned that only eight percent of veterans qualify for dental care under the Veterans Administration. In 2018, David founded the Veteran Smiles Foundation, an organization that provides veterans in North Carolina with the quality dental care they deserve. Learn more about how the Veteran Smiles Foundation is giving back at vetsmiles.org.

Laura Jeanne

Mineola, Texas

Chief Warrant Officer 3, U.S. Army

As one of the U.S. Army’s first female pilots, Laura paved the way for women in aviation. Laura first served as a helicopter mechanic on her way to becoming a Blackhawk helicopter pilot. Over the course of her ten-year career, Laura completed tours in Germany and Saudi Arabia, and served in the Desert Storm conflict. After a horseback riding accident in 2009, Laura became a paraplegic and worried she’d have to give up her passion of scuba diving. Instead, she helped to establish the Adapt-Able Foundation, which strives to show veterans the peaceful freedom scuba diving can provide. Through their dives, veterans find a sense of independence in underwater exploration, mental healing in the weightless underwater world, and form a community based on trust. To learn more about how the Adapt-Able Foundation is making SCUBA diving an inclusive experience, visit adapt-ablefoundation.org.

Mandy Hazelton

Kathleen, Georgia

Master Sergeant, U.S. Air Force (Ret.)

Throughout her 20 years of service, Mandy served as a U.S. Air Force Medical Technician at bases throughout the United States and abroad in Afghanistan and Germany. By the end of her tenure, she had risen to the rank of Superintendent in the 78th Healthcare Operations Squadron. After returning home, Mandy knew she wanted to give back to veterans in her community and saw firsthand how difficult it was for her fellow female veterans to find mental health support, jobs, and housing. Mandy discovered Genesis Joy House, an organization on a mission to improve the quality of life for homeless female veterans. She jumped at the chance to volunteer with the program and become a board member, and volunteers her time to assist with public relations, marketing, and videography. Learn more about Genesis Joy House and their mission to aid female veterans at genesisjoyhouse.com.

Susan Wagner

Vail, Arizona

Senior Chief Corpsman Diver, U.S. Navy (Ret.)

Susan discovered a love of water early in life and realized a career in the U.S. Navy would allow her to pursue her passion. Throughout her 22 years of service, Susan was a key member of dive teams worldwide, including the Naval Aerospace Medical Institute, Seal Team Two, Naval Diving Training Center, Explosive Ordnance Group Two; and MDSU-2 Diving Salvage Unit-2, where she assisted with recovery efforts from the Space Shuttle Challenger. After retirement, Susan became a board member for Smiles for Veterans, an organization dedicated to providing affordable dental care to veterans who are not covered through the Veterans Administration. Learn more about Smiles for Veterans’ dental treatment initiatives at smilesforveterans.org.

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