News: Neillsville - 32nd Red Arrow (Reunion Held - 2015)
Contact: Dolores (Mohr) Kenyon
Surnames: Smith, Welsch, Weisner, Hanson, Hanson, Vine
----Source: Clark County Press (Neillsville, Clark Co., WI) 9/09/2015
32nd Red Arrow Veteran Association (Reunion Held - 2015)
32nd Red Arrow Veteran Association Reunion Held in Neillsville
Members of H Company, 132nd B.S.B. participate as the Color Guard and Firing Squad at the recent 32nd Red Arrow Veteran Association memorial service at The Highground in Neillsville. (Contributed Photo)
By Todd Schmidt
The 96th annual reunion of the 32nd Red Arrow Veteran Association was held in Neillsville Aug. 21 to 23. By all accounts, the series of events combined to make the reunion a resounding success.
The Red Arrow reunion has been held at various venues round the county. Jerry Smith, 82, of Neillsville was an on- ground local member of this year’s Time and Place Committee. Smith said Neillsville was the smallest city the reunion has been held in, and with 57 attendees, this year’s event attracted the highest turnout ever.
Smith said there were 16 families in attendance that had never attended a reunion before. Some came from Connecticut, and another man from Iowa took over a four-hour motorcycle ride to get to Neillsville.
“The registration cost was about half-price of what is usually charge,” Smith said. “Some members said they liked coming to a small town because they don’t like driving in big city traffic.”
Gov. Scott Walker extended his greetings via letter.
“Thank you to the many organizers and volunteers who are making this event possible, and congratulations on your 96th anniversary,” Walker wrote. “We will never forget the many contributions of our veterans, and those Red Arrow members who continue to serve in the defense of our country. I hope you will enjoy your time together, and I wish you the best for a successful reunion.”
Smith said he was amazed at the cooperation extended by many Neillsville area businesses.
The Super 8 Motel blocked off 15 rooms. Many gathered in the hospitality room Friday evening. Incoming association president Ted Welsch of Union Grove welcomed the Red Arrow veterans and assured them they were in the right place.
Al and Lois Weisner of Brown Deer made sure the registration was well organized. Members then headed to the American legion Club for a delicious fish fry. After dinner, many people enjoyed a tour of Tufts’ Mansion.
Saturday began with a noon picnic at the American Legion Club. Members of the National Guard unit stationed in Neillsville were invited as special guests. Smith said 23 new members were added to the Red Arrow Association this past year due to the reunion and the picnic.
Separate meeting rooms were set up at the American Legion for the men’s group and the ladies group.
Much of the discussion in the men’s group centered round the Villa Verdi Trail and the maintenance of the same.
Nicole Hanson of Apache Junction, AZ, willingly stepped into the president’s position and presided over the ladies’ business meeting. One issue decided was to purchase a Legacy Stone to honor all who wore the Red Arrow. This stone will be place at The Highground for the entire world to see.
Ladies’ baskets were well displayed at the American Legion. A raffle sale was held to support the treasury.
Many members then took advantage of a special tour at the 1897 Jail Museum.
Saturday evening’s dinner program began with a welcome from Neillsville Mayor Steve Mabie, who is also a military veteran.
“I am proud of your decision to be here,” Mabie said. “It is my belief most of you were at one time from a rural community and can relate to the attitude of caring and helpfulness that prevails here. Relax and enjoy your visit here. Your service to our country is recognized and held in high regard.”
Smith said Mabie’s remarks were well received by the Red Arrow group.
“Having a local government representative speak really made everyone feel welcome to Neillsville,” Smith said.
The dinner featured beef and chicken with all the trimmings served buffet style. Smith said he heard many remarks from members that no better meal has ever been served at a reunion.
After dinner, Command Sergeant Major Edgar Hansen of Manitowoc gave a rousing speech that included detail about his experiences in the military and how he accomplished what he did.
A touching memorial service was held at The Highground. A memorable moment was hearing the Liberty Bell toll when the names were read of recently deceased Red Arrow veterans.
The Company H Unit of the local National Guard Company performed the Color Guard and Firing Squad duties. Ron Vine played taps.
Members of the 32nd Red Arrow Veteran Association participate in the recent memorial service at The Highground. The Liberty Bell tolled when the names were read of recently deceased Red arrow veterans. (Contributed photo)
“The cooperation with the Neillsville Armory has been fantastic,” Smith said. “During the program, their marching cadence and the way they swung around in time, was utterly amazing. No other honor group could have done any better.”
The program was blessed by a break in the weather. It rained hard earlier and there were a few sprinkles after the event concluded.
The wind blew pretty hard during the program,” Smith noted. “The soldiers stood shoulder to shoulder to brace themselves and the flags, which extended straight out. It was unbelievable to hear all the positive remarks about the program.”
Then it was back to the American Legion for a delicious pancake breakfast.
Smith said the 2016 Red Arrow reunion is booked in Fond du Lac. The schedule is open after that.
“This year’s experience in Neillsville may very well usher in the small town concept for future reunions,” Smith said.
Smith discussed his busy life, including his military career.
He joined the National Guard unit in Neillsville in 1950. He then enlisted in the u. S. Navy, serving from 1952 to 1956.
His duty included a stint on a landing ship tank (LST) performing mine sweeping details. He also worked on the mothball fleet in Portsmouth, VA, and at a naval research laboratory.
In 1956, Smith again enlisted in the National Guard. The unit changed over to a rifle company, and Smith got out when his three-year enlistment was up.
He was kept busy as a technician in the family-owned local telephone company. In 1962, Smith enlisted for another three-year stint in the National Guard.
After that period of service, Smith began another career as a truck driver. He then started an excavating business.
Smith is currently on the Clark Electric Board of Directors and is an active volunteer at The Highground.
In April 2015, Smith was honored to take part in a Veteran’s Honor Flight to Washington, DC. The group flew out of the Central Wisconsin Airport in Mosinee.
“What a super-fine situation that was,” Smith said.
© Every submission is protected by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998.
Show your appreciation of this freely provided information by not copying it to any other site without our permission.
A site created and
maintained by the Clark County History Buffs