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Thanks to all who welcomed home soldiers PDF Print E-mail
Written by Submitted   
Wednesday, January 23, 2013 11:00 PM

It was a great night for the people who attended the WELCOME HOME WARRIORS event at the Lawrenceburg American Legion Post No. 239 Saturday, Jan. 12, 2013.

It was an overflow crowd with standing room only as they came out to pay tribute to some of America’s finest.  These 11 young men recently returned home from a tour of duty in Afghanistan and for some it wasn’t their first time to serve there.  Some of them also had served in Iraq.

A delicious chicken dinner was served to all who attended which included cole slaw, baked beans and plenty of desserts.  A beautiful centerpiece of flowers was donated by Charlotte

Hastings of Charlotte’s Flowers in Aurora.

Those honored include:
*Jacob Powers, Army, Afghanistan,  East Central High School
*Travis Sullivan, Army, Afghanistan, South Dearborn High School
*Zack Yrttima, Army, Afghanistan,  Lawrenceburg High School
*David Davies, Army Afghanistan,  South Dearborn High School
*Scott Mooney, Army, Afghanistan,  East Central High School
*Dan Williams, Army, Afghanistan,  Lawrenceburg High School
*Joe Morris, Army, Afghanistan,  Rising Sun High School
*Ty Fuchs, Army, Iraq,  South Dearborn High School
*Zachary Gaines, Marines, Afghanistan,  South Dearborn High School
*David Vinup, Navy, Iraq & Afghanistan, Lawrenceburg High School
*Jay Scudder, Marines, Iraq & Afghanistan, South Dearborn High School

The program started at 3 p.m. with the Rivertown Rebels Band playing music for the people as they came into the Legion.  Later on music was provided by DJ Steve Rekowski.  The city park and side streets were lined with American Flags on 8-foot  poles to honor these fine young men and were placed by the Patriot Guard Riders. 

The Lawrenceburg Fire Department, with Fire Chief Johnnie Tremain,  had the large Garrison Flag on display from two aerial trucks.  There was a Welcome Home Banner on the entrance, one on the board fence and one hanging in the big room in the Legion saying “WELCOME HOME.”   Bill and Judi Yelton had their red, white and blue patriotic tractor truck parked out front.  Bill and Judi also presented patriotic hats and a coupon for a free meal at Will’s Grill to each Warrior.

Captain Bill McClure, Rising Sun,  greeted most of the people in attendance as he stood out in his World War II uniform.

The planning for the ceremony started when Judge Chuck Evans contacted Dave Teke, Vietnam Veteran, to get the ball rolling to honor those returning from overseas. They contacted P.G. Gentrup, Rising Sun, to help set up a meeting at Chuck’s office in Lawrenceburg. Jerry Bondurant,  Brett’s grandpa, joined in to help organize things along with SSG Eric Morath of the Indiana Army National Guard who had recruited many of these soldiers.

Many showed up for that first meeting and plans were underway to have the chicken dinner.

There were more meetings to follow to get things organized.  The Patriot Guard Riders were at that first meeting and as usual, they were ready, willing and able to help in any way possible. 
The Sons of the American Legion, American Legion Riders and Post No. 59 Ladies’ Auxiliary joined in to make this event happen.  Ronnie “Fish” Riggs and his chicken frying SAL group volunteered to fry the chicken with the help of the ALR and Auxiliary. The uncooked chicken came from KFC in Lawrenceburg, as did the baked beans and cole slaw.  KFC manager, Adam Graff, supplied the plates, sporks and napkins for the dinner as well as the livers & gizzards.

The program started after the dinner around 4:45  p.m. Post No. 239 Chaplain, Buddy Foster, read a prayer and paid tribute to those school children who perished in Connecticut, the fire fighters who died in New York and those who have made the supreme sacrifice defending our nation and our freedoms. 

Next was the Pledge of Allegiance which was led by P.G. Gentrup’s granddaughter, Carli Walter, who is four years old.  Everybody then joined in to sing the Star Spangled Banner. 

The Honorable Judge Chuck Evans was then introduced to the crowd for his outstanding patriotic gesture of getting the program started to recognize our WARRIORS.

Chuck’s own son, Jeremy, is a VETERAN of the War on Terrorism.  Judge Evans paid tribute to all VETERANS and thanked them for their many sacrifices.

P.G. Gentrup served as the MC and then asked for all VETERANS in attendance to raise their hands and there were many hands raised. These VETERANS came out to support those who have followed in their footsteps.  The World War II Veterans were asked to stand and be recognized and a special thank you went to Dick Horn for his many dedicated years to the Legion Color Guard. A special plaque was presented to Post No. 239 Commander Tim Albright by SSG Eric Morath of the Indiana Army National Guard for allowing the program to take place and it now hangs on the Lawrenceburg Legion wall.  SSG Morath also paid tribute to and introduced Dylan May who is leaving for induction into the Army.

Mayor Dennis Carr was introduced and thanked for his help and the help of the Lawrenceburg City Council. Donnie Bryant, former city councilman and present member of the Board of Works, was thanked for his help.  Thanks also went out to Greendale Mayor Doug Hedrick,  Lawrenceburg City Clerk-Treasurer, Jackie Stutz,  and the Lawrenceburg Lions Club for the use of their equipment to fry the chicken.  Former Mayor Bill Cunningham was also thanked for his help with the Veterans’ trips to Washington, D.C., each year.

Organizations like Operation Thank You, with Sue and Tim Nobbe and We Care Packages were thanked as well as those members in attendance from the Korean War Veterans (Commander Luther Rice) and Vietnam Veterans of America (Commander Fred Lester), Moores Hill Legion and Aurora Legion for the funeral details they provide for departed veterans.  Roy Heck provided the big tent to protect the chicken frying crew and equipment.

A special thanks went to Bubba Bo, Mike Perleberg and Bob Shannon at WSCH Radio for their continued support of veterans and helping to get the word out about functions like this and their support of our Warriors.  Jamie Geyer, Work One Representative, was introduced and told about her job to help veterans find a job and with any other problems they encounter. Susan Walters from the Cincinnati VA was also there to pass out info to Veterans. 

Denise Freitag Burdette and Erika Schmidt Russell of Register Publications were thanked for their dedication to veterans’ stories in the paper. Mary Clark of Dillsboro donated the Welcome Home banner that was hanging in the dining room and the one hanging on the entrance was donated by Sue and Tim Nobbe of Operation Thank You.  The Sign Store in Lawrenceburg provided the big Welcome Home sign on the fence.

Judge Chuck Evans, Dave Teke, Tim Albright, SSG Eric Morath, Jerry Bondurant, Tim Kieffer & Ed Schmidt (PGR) were called to the front and thanked for their efforts to recognize these soldiers.

Five MARINES in attendance were introduced and they had entered the Marines after they got out of high school at Moores Hill.  These five went to Washington, D.C., last June on the Veterans’ trip from Southeastern Indiana and it was the first time they were all together since boot camp back in 1967.  They are Jack Day, Ebbie Roberts, Bob Wetzler, Frank Cummins and Tanne Burton- all very patriotic Americans and PROUD MARINES.

Miniature desktop replicas of a section of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., were presented to Dave Teke and Tim Albright, both Vietnam Veterans. Tim received two Purple Hearts in Vietnam and Dave Teke is getting close to having worked 50 Traveling Walls (replicas of the WALL in Washington, D.C.) around the country. I always tell people that Dave Teke bleeds red, white and blue.

State Representative for District 68, Jud McMillin, came from Brookville to speak to the crowd and thanked those in attendance for their support and thanked the veterans and present day warriors for their dedicated service.

The plaques were presented to the eleven warriors and were 9-inches by 12-inches colorful plaques with the Constitution, American Flag and American Bald Eagle on them.

The plaques were read and then presented by some of those in attendance.  Plaques were presented by Tim Kieffer and Ed Schmidt of the PGR;  Dave Teke and Jerry Bondurant;  Fred Lester, Commander of Vietnam Veterans of America Lary D. Fogle Chapter 71;  Jud McMillin and Judge Chuck Evans;  Sons of the American Legion and American Legion Riders;  Ladies’ Auxiliary with Gert Kaffenberger, Bob Morman and Kathy Miller;  United States Marines, Ken Cash and Commander Luther Rice of the Korean War Veterans, Chapter 4;  the World War II Veterans in attendance; the Five Marines; and Tim Albright & Mike Lafollette, who were multiple Purple Heart Recipients from Vietnam.  Tim has two and Mike has three!! 

Jay Scudder, proud United States MARINE, told the crowd just how proud he was to be able to follow in the footsteps of those brave WARRIORS who had gone before him and showed him how to serve OUR nation, especially the World War II Veterans. He praised the Korean War and Vietnam Veterans as well as those who fought in Desert Storm, Iraq and Afghanistan.

As long as we have brave, young men like these eleven willing to answer the call to duty, then the USA will remain the greatest nation on earth. Down through our nation’s history, since the Revolutionary War, soldiers have been willing to make sacrifices to secure and protect our freedoms.

You can take any of these 11 and change them with the ones in any other war and the results will be the same because of their dedication. Only the names and faces change but the bravery is always the same. Tommy Denning and Lary Fogle were remembered as the two from Lawrenceburg who died in Vietnam and Brett Bondurant was paid tribute to for his injuries back on Sept. 28, 2011. He’s a Purple Heart Recipient and has made an amazing recovery since being injured by an IED in Afghanistan.

The Patriot Guard Riders have an annual two-day ride visiting the cemeteries and grave sites of those from Southern Indiana who died in Iraq & Afghanistan.

They won’t be forgotten and another ride will take place this summer. The public is invited to attend and you don’t have to be a veteran to join the PGR but just be someone who supports our troops and OUR nation.

Two years ago to the day, Jan. 12, 2011, Zachary Salmon lost his life in Iraq and his mom, Rene Cross and other family members were in attendance and called forward to pay tribute to and remember this brave young WARRIOR.  The family asked for candles to be lit in his memory. 

Several PGR members were in attendance who helped escort his body for Greater Cincinnati Airport to Fitch-Denney Funeral Home, stood a flag line at Lawrenceburg High School gymnasium for the visitation and stood a flag line at St. Lawrence Church on a bitterly cold day for the funeral and then escorted the procession to Riverview Cemetery in Aurora.

Charlie Booker and his wife, Brenda, were introduced.  Their son “KR” Booker was killed in action in Iraq on Nov. 14, 2007 and was from Vevay, Ind.  A Gold Star Mom is one who loses her son in combat and these are two Gold Star Families too who have paid a tremendous price, along with the Maupin Family.

Keith Maupin and fiance, Erica, were introduced and Keith spoke about his son, Matt, who was kidnapped on April 9, 2004, in Iraq and became a Prisoner of War.  His body was found in March of 2008 and returned to the USA.  Keith has operated the YELLOW RIBBON SUPPORT CENTER in Eastgate and they have sent over 21,000 packages to our troops serving in Iraq & Afghanistan.  Keith told the crowd he was proud of his son and this is something you never want to happen to you but once it was thrust upon him, he felt he needed to pay tribute to those still serving.

Bowe Bergdal, who went missing in action on June 30, 2009, and is listed as a POW, was remembered and the crowd was asked to write to their Congressman and our two Senators to have them to keep searching for him so he can be returned to the USA.

The 11 Warriors were called back to the front and presented Challenge Coins by Ebbie Roberts and Jerry Bondurant from Brett Bondurant.  Brett wanted to be there to personally present the coins but is in Texas still taking physical therapy for his recovery from his wounds.

The coins have the insignia of the 25th Infantry Division on one side and a Purple Heart on the back with PFC Brett Bondurant, 9-28-2011 stamped on it. One of Brett’s best friends, Christian Simpson, will be returning home to Greendale around Jan. 27 and Brett wanted the crowd know about this young Warrior who served in Afghanistan.  Our area is very proud of Brett Bondurant and his bravery in Afghanistan.

PGR ride pins were also presented to those members of the PGR for a Mission Accomplished.
The crowd was very enthusiastic and gave each Warrior a standing ovation when introduced.  Southeastern Indiana is very proud of those who serve OUR nation and it has been said many times that if you want to see Small Town America at its best, then come to Southeastern Indiana !! 

Thanks to all who were able to attend this program and make plans to attend the next one.  Hopefully, we’ll be able to do another one in late Spring or early Summer.  Please continue to support those who are serving OUR great nation today.  May God Bless all of you and the United States of America.
Judge Chuck Evans
Dave Teke
Ed Schmidt, PGR
Tim Kieffer, PGR
Tim Albright, Commander Post No. 239
Jerry Bondurant
P.G. Gentrup
SSG Eric Morath
Bob Moorman
Gert Kaffenberger
Post No. 239SAL
Post No. 239 ALR
Post No. 239 Ladies’ Auxiliary