News Article
LUHS Honor's Honor Flights by Raising Money for Our Vets!
7/7/2017 7:29:00 AM
Minocqua parade nets nearly enough for two Honor Flights
For the second year, LUHS students get donations on route
Brian Jopek/Lakeland Times

In the hour or two prior to Tuesday’s Fourth of July parade in Minocqua, veterans who have been on the Never Forgotten Honor Flight gathered at a tent on the grounds of the Minocqua Area Chamber of Commerce office. While they waited to board buses they would ride in for the parade, they had the chance to meet and visit with each other. Pictured, from left, is Air Force veteran Fred Bergman of Woodruff, Army veteran Dick Smith of Woodruff, and Air Force veteran Dennis Barnes of Three Lakes. All three men served during the Vietnam War, Bergman on KC-135 Stratotankers, Smith as a combat engineer and Barnes as an Air Force security policeman.
Brian Jopek/Lakeland Times

In the hour or two prior to Tuesday’s Fourth of July parade in Minocqua, veterans who have been on the Never Forgotten Honor Flight gathered at a tent on the grounds of the Minocqua Area Chamber of Commerce office. While they waited to board buses they would ride in for the parade, they had the chance to meet and visit with each other. Pictured, from left, is Air Force veteran Fred Bergman of Woodruff, Army veteran Dick Smith of Woodruff, and Air Force veteran Dennis Barnes of Three Lakes. All three men served during the Vietnam War, Bergman on KC-135 Stratotankers, Smith as a combat engineer and Barnes as an Air Force security policeman.
Lakeland Union High School student Dwight Miesbauer, right, holds a donation bucket as Fourth of July parade spectators put money in. A total of $960 was raised during the parade by Miesbauer and other LUHS students and football coach Dan Barutha.
Lakeland Union High School student Dwight Miesbauer, right, holds a donation bucket as Fourth of July parade spectators put money in. A total of $960 was raised during the parade by Miesbauer and other LUHS students and football coach Dan Barutha.
 
Brian Jopek
Reporter

 
Vietnam-era veteran Wally Obermann went on a Never Forgotten Honor Flight to Washington, D.C., last year.

Like so many veterans who have made the trip, his reaction was a positive one.

"They did a fantastic job on that trip," he told The Lakeland Times in an interview shortly after. "I'll never forget it."

Apparently Obermann hasn't, as he has played a key role in getting the NFHF and area veterans who have been on one a primary feature of Minocqua's Fourth of July parade.

In the organization's first large presence at last year's parade, he said there were nearly 60 veterans participating.

This year there were 92, not including a few who were participating in flag details and honor guards from the Minocqua American Legion post and the local chapter of the Vietnam Veterans of America, which brought the number closer to, if not over, 100.

As was the case last year, Lakeland Union High School students, along with LUHS football coach Dan Barutha, walked the parade route, soliciting donations for the Honor Flight from parade spectators.

"We actually had 20 of them collecting money," Obermann said.

This year, they raised $960, nearly enough to send two veterans on an Honor Flight, which costs $500.

"Those kids were really good," Obermann said. "They were super excited about it and did a real good job."

He said it took four months to coordinate the parade effort and he used his own money for items ranging from banners used on the sides of the buses during the parade to refreshments available for veterans at the Minocqua Area Chamber of Commerce office, the staging area for the buses before the parade.

Obermann said since he made his Honor Flight, he's been "so enthused. I've been doing fundraisers for the Honor Flight ever since."

"I'll continue to do that," he said. "The Never Forgotten Honor Flight is probably the most organized in the country."

Obermann said he will turn the money over to LUHS teacher Mike Mestelle, who helped, along with Barutha, the participation of the LUHS students, so that those students get credit for their effort.

NFHF president Mike Thompson said Obermann did a nice job of putting together the coalition of students to help the veterans out.

"It's not just the $960 raised," he said. "It's the recognition and the awareness that Wally has built through the Honor Flight to encourage veterans to sign up and the community to get aware of and support the Honor Flight by being a volunteer, recruiting or through cash."

"It was four months that really paid off," Obermann said.

Brian Jopek may be reached via email at .
   
Author: Brian Jopek   E-Mail: bjopek@lakelandtimes.com