News: Neillsville -Ribbon Cut/New Armory (1977)
Contact: Dolores (Mohr) Kenyon
Surnames: Van Gorden, Campman, Lison, Muchow
----Source: Clark County Press (Neillsville, Clark Co., WI) 10/20/1977
Ribbon Cut/New Armory Open (16 October 1977)
There was everything there. A mobile bridge that when extended made a span long enough to cross an 85 foot river. Oodles of officers, decked out in crisp uniforms and gold encrusted hats. And many local citizens who had taken an active supporting role in present and past National Guard Activities.
All were gathered last weekend for the dedication of the new National Guard Armory, located on the city’s north side and which will served as home for Detachment 1, 32d Engineer Company, otherwise known as the Neillsville, based contingent of the Wisconsin National Guard.
The weekend activities included the formal dedication and ribbon cutting on Saturday, followed by a tour of the facilities, a dance that evening and another open house on Sunday.
Bill Campman, considered to be the oldest Guardsman in the nation, a veteran of the Spanish-American War and long-time attorney in Neillsville, cut the ribbon marking the opening of the new community facility.
In dedication ceremonies, Master of Ceremonies, Heron A. “Pink” Van Gorden, who served as a major for the unit for a number of years, introduced honored guests, including former officers and leaders of the Neillsville group as well as Gen. James J. Lison, deputy adjutant general for the Wisconsin Guard and Capt. John D. Muchow, company commander.
After the dedication, many viewed the many rooms and drill area of the 153 by 108 foot brick and block building. National Guard members served as hosts and besides giving tours also displayed and explained the types of equipment used by the Guard members.
The building, with a $460,000 price tag, had construction begin on July 1, 1976. It replaces Guard headquarters on Fourth Street which once served as an opera house and which now has shown its age in increased heating bills and lack of space.
The Neillsville unit of the National Guard has a long military history, dating back 99 years. Included in that time span have been times spent by members of the group in the Spanish-American War, World War I, World War II, the Korean Conflict, and the Berlin Crisis call-up. Of late, the Guard unit was called to active duty to aid in the care of patients at the Central State Hospital at Waupun after local workers there went out on strike.
The armory is manned full-time under the direction of Sgt. Fred Kieser. Many of the Guardsmen expressed a hope that the community would utilize the facilities for meetings and other activities.
Award certificates of appreciation at the open house were Robert Harvey, past publisher of The Clark County Press; Delbert “Bud” Struble, a former Guard officer and supporter of the unit; Vic Schwartz, representing Nelson Industries, a business booster of the Guard; and Gary Slaats, editor and co-publisher of The Press, who traveled with the Guard on their excursion to Waupun.
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