Posted on

Veterans Memorial unveiled at Dorchester Days

Veterans Memorial unveiled at Dorchester Days Veterans Memorial unveiled at Dorchester Days

By Neal Hogden

A long awaited event provided closure, appreciation and honor to many area veterans and their families in Dorchester on Saturday. The newly-dedicated Dorchester Veterans Memorial was unveiled in front of an estimated 500 spectators on Saturday in Dorchester Park.

The memorial displays the names of 570 veterans who either resided in Dorchester or had family ties to the area. The names on the wall feature three supplemental pieces of information to help give spectators a view of each veteran’s service. Each veteran, excluding those listed from the Civil War and Spanish-American War, have their name, when they served, branch of service and their rank etched into black, polished granite.

The wall is accompanied by four benches which are made of black granite as well. At the base of the wall are medallions embedded into concrete which signify the various branches of the military. There are two Soldier’s Crosses which consist of a helmet, a rifle and a pair of boots. The statues are a special honor for those who fell in battle.

Jim Jantsch of the Dorchester American Legion Post 517 served as the master of ceremonies for the event and also was instrumental in the creation of the memorial. He said the work leading up to the building of the memorial included a lot of research but he felt very supported by his fellow legionnaires.

“I am pleased and very proud to have been a part of this great undertaking,” Jantsch said. “Three years ago; four separate Veterans Memorials were visited in Iowa. I reported the findings to my comrades in the American Legion and to the last man – they all said – let’s do it – let’s honor our local heroes.'

Included on the wall are the following:

■ ■ Fifty-four were veterans of the Wisconsin Army Reserve National Guard.

■ ■ Two-hundred and ninety were Veterans of the U.S. Army

■ ■ Eighty-two were veterans of the US Navy and the U.S. Coast Guard

■ ■ Thirty-nine were veterans of the U.S. Marine Corps.

■ ■ Forty-seven were veterans of the United States Army Air Corp and of the U.S. Air Force.

The north and south sides of the wall include 512 names, 22 of which have re-


REMEMBERING OUR VETERANS - The wall was presented to a crowd of about 500 guests at Dorchester Park on Saturday. The wall features 570 names of area veterans dating back to the Civil War. More pictures and coverage of the event can be found on pages 8-9.

STAFF PHOTO/NEAL HOGDEN Continued from page 1

ceived Purple Hearts for a wound that was inflicted upon them during battle.

Jantsch said there were many people that were essential to the building of the memorial as they volunteered time, money and materials to make the veteran’s dream, a reality.

During his speech, Jantsch gave special recognition to the following donors:

■ _ Mark Decker Excavating Company, Medford – ground prep and trenching

■ _ We Do Construction Company, Medford – pouring of concrete

■ _ Jeff Kellnhofer and Garret Leichtnam – master brick layers _ Rockridge Pre-cast Company, Neenah – concrete caps and angled casts

■ _ Marshfield Monument Company – lasering of names on black granite _ Perrin’s Surface Solutions, Medford – installation of black granite slabs

■ _ Westar Manufacturing Company, Dorchester – created and installed the arch

■ _ Legionnaires and Dorchester volunteers – many projects, including the laying of sod.

During the ceremony, Jantsch called upon Kellnhofer who helped lay the bricks for the memorial to say some words about the memorial. Kellnhofer said as part of the brick laying process, bricks that are laid vertically are often called “soldiers.” He said he and Garret Leichtnam laid in 546 soldiers to watch over the names listed on the memorial wall.

The five branches of military and the American Legion were recognized as each of the following veterans carried a flag to represent one of the branches:

■ _ The U.S. Army flag was escorted by Richard Michlig. Michlig served his country in the U.S. Army for more than 20 years entering the service in 1975 and serving through 1995.

_ The U. S. Navy flag was escorted by Pat Mateer. Mateer served his country in the U.S. Army and Army Reserve from 1983 through 2007. He currently serves as the Colby VFW post commander.

■ _ The U.S. Marine Corps flag was escorted by Richard Sigmund. Sigmund served his country in the U.S. Marine Corp from 1983 through 1987.

■ _ The U.S. Air Force flag was escorted by Gerald Gonnering. Gonnering served his country in the U.S. Air Force from 1959 through 1962.

■ _ The United States Coast Guard flag was escorted by Greg Stoiber. Stoiber served in the United States Army from 1968 through 1991.

■ _ The American Legion flag was escorted by Steve Sprotte. Sprotte served in the U.S. Army and the Wisconsin Army National Guard from 1985 through 1993.

Other speakers and performers during the ceremony were Rev. Teri Hanson who blessed the memorial and gave an invocation, Louella Derrico who sang the “Star Spangled Banner” and “God Bless America” and Jim Sorenson who played “Taps.”

Three volleys were held as Ron Decker, Bill Decker and Greg Smith fired blank shots into the air before Sorenson’s rendition of “Taps.” Sorenson is a native of Dorchester but currently lives in Grafton. He said it was important for him to make it back to Dorchester for the event and to be a part of the ceremony.

Bruce Tessmer of the Dorchester Cemetery Association placed 221 flags which outlines a larger, U.S. flag. The 221 flags represented the number of veterans who are buried in the three cemeteries that exist within the boundaries of the Dorchester community.

In total, 44 companies and individuals donated over $100,000 to the project. “There is no thank you big enough – but just to say – it would not have happened without their generosity,” Jantsch said. Jantsch ended the ceremony by telling everyone to view the memorial and take time to find their friends and family members on the wall. He said there will be a phase two part of the project down the road which will include a pillar that contains more names of veterans.