Kilroy Award

The Legend of Kilroy

James J. Kilroy

James J. Kilroy 1902-1962

This Legend of how “Kilroy was here” starts is with James J. Kilroy, a shipyard inspector during WWII. He chalked the words on bulkheads to show that he had been there and inspected the riveting in the  newly constructed ship. To the troops in those ships, however, it was a complete mystery — all they knew for sure was that he had “been there first.” As a joke, they began placing the graffiti wherever they (the US forces) landed or went, claiming it was already there when they arrived.

Kilroy became the US super-GI who always got there first — wherever GI’s went. It became a challenge to place the logo in the most unlikely places. It was said to be atop Mt. Everest, the Statue of Liberty, the underside of the Arch de Triumphe, and scrawled in the dust on the moon. An outhouse was built for the exclusive use of Truman, Stalin, and Churchill who were there for the Potsdam conference. The first person to use it was Stalin. He emerged and asked his aide (in Russian), “Who is Kilroy?”

WWII UDT (Under Water Demolition – later Navy Seals) divers swam ashore on Japanese held islands in the Pacific to prepare the beaches for the coming landings by US troops. They were sure to be the first GIs there! On more than one occasion, they reported seeing “Kilroy was here” scrawled on make shift signs or as graffiti on enemy pillboxes. They, in turn, often left similar signs for the next incoming GIs.

The tradition continued in every US military theater of operations throughout and following WWII.

In 1946 the Transit Company of America held a contest offering a prize of a real trolley car to the person who could prove himself to be the “real” Kilroy. Almost forty men stepped forward to make that claim, but James Kilroy brought along officials from the shipyard and some of the riveters to help prove his authenticity. James Kilroy won the prize of the trolley car which he gave it to his nine children as a Christmas gift and set it up in their front yard for a playhouse.



The Kilroy award is chosen each year by a vote of the Fair Board.  It is given to an individual or group that shows initiative to always be the first to volunteer their  service for the good of the Wayne County Fair.

2016-Bob Hansen

2015-Shelli & Pete Keiser and Family

2014-Dave & Joyce Sievers

2013-Butch Meyer

2012-TWJ Farms

2011-Mick & Sue Topp

2010-Civil Air Patrol

2009-Agricultural Hall Staff

2008-21st Century Explorers of Wayne

2007-Marian Clark

2006-189th Transportation Division-Nebraska Army National Guard

2005-St. Mary’s Food Stand Staff

2004-Lewis & Clark Expidition

2002-Nebraska 4-H Council

2001-Bob & Elaine Hansen

2000-United States Flag and Howard & Barb Greve

1999-Dave Ley

1998-Larry & Lorraine Johnson and Ray & Judy Jacobsen

1997-Mike Karel

1996-Elvis Olson

1995-Stan Morris and Victory 50 Soldiers of All Wars

1994-Rainbow Riders and Dr. Robert Benthack

1993-Volunteer Firemen

1992-Sister Gertrude Marie (Providence Medical Center)

1991-Nurses of Northeast Nebraska

1990-Dr. N.L. and Irene Dittmann

1989-Harvey Brasch