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    2017 Fort McCoy Armed Forces Day Open House entertains many attendees

    2017 Fort McCoy Armed Forces Day Open House entertains many attendees

    Photo By Scott Sturkol | Visitors to the 2017 Fort McCoy Armed Forces Day Open House participate in the event's...... read more read more

    An estimated nearly 2,000 people attended the 2017 Fort McCoy Armed Forces Day Open House here May 20 despite, at times, some heavy rain conditions.

    The open house was held on the grounds of Fort McCoy's historic Commemorative Area, which includes World War II-era buildings, the Equipment Park, and Veterans Memorial Plaza.

    Attendees enjoyed the many displays, activities, bus tours, and historical areas as well as a special “Welcome Home” ceremony for Vietnam veterans that was held in Rumpel Fitness Center.

    Dennis Thompson from La Vallee, Wis., attended the open house with his wife and attended the ceremony.

    “This experience was excellent,” said Thompson, a Vietnam veteran who served in the Navy from 1966-67. “It was great to see everything that’s here and to attend the ceremony. Also, it was great to see the place where my (father) served in World War II.

    Thompson shared a photo that included his father, former Army Tech. Sgt. Eugene Thompson, pictured atop a tank at then-Camp McCoy in the early 1940s. “Dad always had fond memories of this place and his experience here,” Thompson said.

    Veteran Douglas Gisler of Milton, Wis., who served in the Army during the Vietnam War, attended the open house with his wife Susan. Both took part in seeing everything available and were also ceremony participants.

    “I’ve trained here in the past,” Douglas said. “It’s really changed a lot for the better.”

    “We really enjoyed the tour,” said Susan, who also was one of hundreds who participated in the 45-minute installation bus tours offered throughout the day. “It was really wonderful to see everything that is here at this (installation).”

    Activities were available for people of all ages, and those activities highlighted more than history. People lined up for camouflage face painting, personalized ID tags, an interactive-marksmanship gallery, and military-vehicle and fire-truck displays; to see the latest Army medical equipment in use and fill sandbags to build a mock defensive position; and more.

    At the Vietnam Veterans Welcome Home ceremony, dozens of veterans participated. Each veteran received a Vietnam Veterans Lapel Pin from retired Maj. Gen. Paul Lima and Medal of Honor recipient retired Command Sgt. Ken Stumpf. Both Lima and Stumpf are, also, Vietnam veterans.

    The ceremony is one of many taking place around the United States that officially recognize veterans who served between May 1, 1955, and Nov. 15, 1975.

    “When many of us came back (from Vietnam), we came back to a time of turmoil,” Lima said. “No one could recognize the invisible wounds coupled with haunting memories from that time. … (We) didn’t receive a public welcome or recognition of service.

    “Many (veterans) quietly assimilated back into their communities and used their skills to better America,” Lima said.

    Fort McCoy Garrison Commander Col. David J. Pinter Sr. also recognized all the Vietnam veterans in attendance. “All of you have served as my inspiration to serve.”

    The Vietnam Veterans Welcome Home event was something “long overdue for a generation of veterans that’s been long overlooked,” said Fort McCoy Public Affairs Officer Tonya K. Townsell. “While we can’t change the past, I hope our event brought a feeling of recognition and appreciation to our Vietnam veterans.”

    Fort McCoy also held the South Post 5k Run for dozens of people in observance of the day. Dozens of people attended and the run also served as a time trial for Soldiers looking to join the installation's Army Ten-Miler team.

    Earlier in the day, Fort McCoy members also participated in the "Our Community Salutes" event at Rumpel Fitness Center. “Our Community Salutes”, created in 2009 by Dr. Kenneth E. Hartman, is a national non-profit organization designed to recognize and honor high school seniors who have committed to enlist in the Armed Forces following high school graduation.

    Townsell said, overall, the 2017 open house was a great success even though the weather impacted the usual amount of open house attendees.

    “While the rain kept a good portion of our regular attendees home, those who did make it here to celebrate the day seemed to take the weather in stride,” she said. “I saw a lot of smiling wet faces.”

    “Rain or shine, the open house provides an excellent opportunity for people to come and see what Fort McCoy is all about and to learn about the Army, the installation, the history, and Fort McCoy’s continuing mission to support the nation as the ‘Total Force Training Center,’” Townsell said. “The community around the region looks forward to this event every year, and we appreciated the opportunity to showcase the installation.”

    “Also, successful events such as this don’t ‘just happen,’” Townsell added. “Many employees put their energy and hearts into this to make it what it is every year.”

    Armed Forces Day is observed on the third Saturday in May. Planning already is underway for the May 19, 2018, open house.

    For more information about the event, call the Fort McCoy Public Affairs Office at 608-388-2407.



    Date Taken: 05.24.2017
    Date Posted: 05.24.2017 15:33
    Story ID: 235124
    Location: FORT MCCOY, WI, US 
    Hometown: MILTON, WI, US
    Hometown: LA VALLEE, VI

    Podcast Hits: 0