By Jan Lee Buxengard
Special for the Argus
The eighth annual Military Ball was a success again with record attendance of 223, an increase of 20 from last year’s event.
Held April 21 at the Fest Building in Spring Grove, those attending encompassed a wide area of the tri-states.
Those in the color guard included riflemen Maynard LaFluer of Rushford, and Joe Tollefson of Caledonia; U. S. flag presented by Jim Wilhelmson of Spring Grove, POW flag by Paul Wheaton of Houston, and the service flags: Army – Randy Denstad of Caledonia, Marine – Earl Roberts of Mindoro, Wis., Navy – Todd James of Rushford, Coast Guard – John Geiwitz of Houston, and Air Force – Glenn Kinneberg of Spring Grove.
Special Export quartet sang “The National Anthem” and “God Bless America”. Emcee for the evening was Joel Boone of Caledonia.
Gene Wilder of LeRoy, and Paul Wheaton led the POW-MIA ceremony, “Remember”.
Military family recognized
Seven of eight Van Gundy brothers of Houston served in the military. Six were in attendance and recognized at the ball. They are: Harold, age 87 and the oldest, served in the Navy; Allen in the Army, Donald – Army, Francis – Air Force, Wesley – Army, and J.C. – Army. A brother, Bob, who served in the Army Airborne, was unable to attend the event. Their sister, Lois, is a Gold Star Mother, having lost her son, William Quillin in the Vietnam War. The 21 year old was serving in the Army when his helicopter was shot down.
Continue serving veterans
Guest speaker for the ball event was Shawn Schloesser of St. Peter, Minn., veterans field representative for Minnesota First District Congressman Tim Walz. He joined the office in January 2010 following his November 2009 retirement after serving 23 years in a variety of positions with the Army.
Schloesser assists with strategic outreach planning and the development of legislative policy related to veterans and service members.
Currently they are working on issues regarding the economy and veterans jobs. “Veterans unemployment exceeds the national rate,” he pointed out. After the family has made the sacrifice it is important they have access to a career.
“The government spends money to train people in the military for a particular job,” Schloesser said. “When they get out of the military and want to go into that field of expertise, the private sector won’t accept them without going to school again to receive certification and licensing. After they get out of the military they can go to school through the GI Bill. In essence, the government is paying a second time for their schooling. That’s why we have introduced legislation to help with their careers, to help them get the certification and licensing for the training they learned in the military, and to use federal resources wisely.
“For the invisible wounds of war, we must insure they have mental health access, especially in rural areas,” he continued.
“Women vets is another issue being looked at. Twelve percent of the military force is women. We need a culture change – to see a veteran, not just a man, anymore,” Schloesser noted.
Milford Landsom of Spring Grove, age 89, was the oldest veteran in attendance at the Military Ball and was honored with a cased U.S. flag. He was an engineer in the Army from 1945 to 1946, and served in Germany.
Amanda England of St. Paul, age 24, was the youngest veteran in attendance at the ball and was honored with a cased U.S. flag. She served in the Army for 15 months from 2006-2007 as a quartermaster in chemical equipment repair. She is the daughter of Teresa (Crossman) Ash, and the granddaughter of Toby and Suzanne Crossman of Spring Grove.
A Gold Star Mother is one who has lost a son or daughter in wartime. Four were present at the Military Ball: Lois Quillin of La Crescent, Mabel Sires of Mabel, Deanna Peterson of Houston, and Kay Swenson of Rochester.
Last call of vets in the county
At the final salute ceremony, Richard Snow of Houston read the roll call honoring the 42 veterans of Houston County who answered their last call in the last calendar year. Ron Levendoski of Brownsville rang the bell twice after each name and, at the end trumpet players from Cheers Big Band provided a military salute of echoed taps.
Mark your calendar for next year’s ball, scheduled on Saturday, April 20, 2013 at the Fest Building in Spring Grove.