News: Neillsville - Highground Persian Gulf Tribute (Jul 2016)

Contact: Dolores (Mohr) Kenyon

Surnames: Barth, Dawson, Kaufman, Hensiak, Mabie, Olson, Hebert, Wick, Liedtka, Patrick, Lybert, Schecklman, Henline, Hautamaki, Cantaflio, Pulvermacher, Harris, Dunbar, Scoros, McCue, Ward, Babcock, Hilliard, Jopek, McNeely, Jakel

----Source: Clark County Press (Neillsville, Clark Co., WI) 7/06/2016

Operation Persian Gulf Welcome Home (18-25 Jul 2016)

Operation Persian Gulf Welcome Home

By Todd Schmidt

Plans are full speed ahead for operation Persian Gulf Welcome Home set for July 18 to 25 at The Highground.

A number of local veterans and families will be participating in the series of events, which will include the dedication of the Persian Gulf Tribute.

Afghanistan veteran Brian Barth of Neillsville will be a speaker. Barth’s unit had very dangerous work clearing explosives.

Mark and Lori Dawson and their son, Shane, will be participants. Mark was in Desert Storm and Shane is an Iraq veteran. Shane and his mother will both be speaking.

Celeste Kaufman of Colby was a Fairchild resident when her son, Charles, was killed in Iraq. She has been a major force in getting the Tribute designed, funded and completed. Kaufman will be a speaker.

Brandon Hensiak of Neillsville is a Persian Gulf veteran and a member of the Persian Gulf Tribute Committee. He will play a major role in the week’s activities.

Neillsville Mayor Steve Mabie, who is a military veteran, will be a speaker.

Nancy Olson, who now resides in Oshkosh, was a resident of Loyal when her husband, Todd, was killed in action in the Persian Gulf.

“Any of the above veterans and families could speak of their service and also, more importantly, of difficulties re-entering civilian life,” said Theresa Hebert, spokesperson for The Highground. “We are hoping that the Welcome Home will help many veterans take steps in the right direction. We have heard from many young veterans that they are coming here to receive help.”

The Highground Plaza will be filled with information and displays on PTSD awareness and counseling, employment, education, healthcare and housing assistance. Many information tents will be staffed to help veterans find the help and resources they may need.

Other aspects of the week include “Tribute to the Fallen,” a photo display by David Wick; Schneider “Ride of Pride;” a battlefield cross ceremony; “Fallen Angel” Tribute Truck; military displays; Veterans Reunions; 364 military boot display by Being There-Reaching Out; and photography services, Military and patriotic vehicles will also be on display.

The Wall of Remembrance will be escorted July 18 from Madison along a 245-mile route to The Highground. Arrival time is scheduled at 6:30 p.m.

The celebration continues July 19 with a media reception at 4:30 p.m. and the opening ceremony at 6 p.m. VFW Post 2227 will serve as the Color Guard.

A Desert Shield and Desert Storm Ceremony will be held July 20 at 6 p.m. Desert Storm and OEF veteran James Liedtka will be the guest speaker. Vets for Freedom will provide music before, during and after the ceremony.

July 21 features Operation Enduring Freedom-Afghanistan at 6 p.m. Cheryl Lee Patrick, Gold Star mother of Patrick Lybert, will be featured. The new Richmond VFW Post 10818 will serve as Color Guard. Marnie Schecklman of Greenwood will perform several musical selections.

Operation Iraqi Freedom will be held July 22. Events begin at 4:30 p.m. with a presentation by Bobby Henline. The program beginning at 6 p.m. will be highlighted by Sandy Hautamaki, mother of Ryan Cantaflio, who was killed in action in Iraq. Thorp VFW Post 9057 with serve as Color Guard. Keith Pulvermacher will provide music during and after the ceremony.

The new Persian Gulf Tribute will be dedicated Saturday, July 23. A Persian Gulf Honor Stone Ceremony will be held at 9:30 a.m., with the dedication of Tribute benches and barriers following at 1 p.m.

A “Walk for the Fallen” will take place at 3 p.m. Shilo Harris takes the stage at 4:30 p.m. A Missing Man Table Ceremony conducted by Rolling Thunder Chapter 3 will begin the dedication ceremony at 5:30 p.m. Major General Dunbar and John Scoros, secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs, will be the keynote speakers.

Willis-Chapel American Legion Post 306 of Green Lake will serve as Color Guard. John McCue and John Ward will provide special music and Diane Babcock will play “Taps.”

A “Quilt of Valor” presentation will follow the dedication ceremony. A concert by Madison Rising will conclude the day’s events.

July 24 is set as Family Day. A non-denominational Sunday service will be held at 10 a.m. There will be many family activities throughout the day, including inflatables and games for kids, face painting and an evening movie on a big screen. Gordy’s Market will host a free family picnic in the afternoon.

Maggie Mae Hilliard will perform in the afternoon and will be featured as a speaker at a 6 p.m. ceremony.

A Candlelight Memorial will be featured at the closing ceremony July 25 at 8:30 p.m. Brian Jopek, whose son, Ryan, was killed in action in Iraq, will be the featured speaker. Schecklman will provide special music.

Bagpipes will play at sunset to conclude the events each day.

Hebert said sponsors for Welcome Home event include: a Million Dollar Roundtable grant facilitated by Juli McNeely of Spencer; Hardee’s of Neillsville, Colby and Medford; Abby-Bank; Sniteman Pharmacy; Marawood Construction; Land O’Lakes; Adler-Clark Electric Foundation; WCCN Radio; Citizens State Bank of Loyal; Gordy’s Market; and Paul Jakel of Abbotsford, who donated a great deal of assistance and labor.

For more information about Operation Persian Gulf Welcome Home, contact The Highground at 715-743-4224 or via email at Information is also available on The Highground website and Facebook page.

A group of combat veterans recently tour the Persian Gulf Tribute site at The Highground. Workers are putting the finishing touches on the display in preparation for the Operation Persian Gulf Welcome Home Series of activities planned July 18 to 25. (Contributed photo)




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