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This and That — A salute to our veterans PDF Print E-mail
Friday, November 08, 2013 9:30 PM

In honor of all veterans, past and present, I would like to devote this column to a few of the organizations whose purpose it is to thank, remember and aid veterans and their families.

Why do we have to have war? It’s so sad when we have to send our men and women off to war. Maybe if more of our leaders or politicians had to be on the front lines of battle, they would think a little harder before they send our men and women off to battle.

We all know we would still be ruled by England if those Patriots had not fought the Revolutionary War. Then there was the War of 1812, which was really a continuation of our War for Independence. Many of us had ancestors in the Civil War. Then there was the “war to end all wars” and the war to keep Hitler from taking control of the whole world. Then came Pearl Harbor. Since then, we had Korea and Vietnam and all those other wars in the Middle East. I have a grandson in the Air Force and a nephew in the Army over there in one of those fighting countries. Another grandson served four years in the U. S. Navy aboard the submarine, The USS Toledo. With all they have to do and see, it’s no wonder many veterans suffer the post traumatic stress syndrome.

Nov. 11 is the official date to remember our veterans but we need to say “Thanks!” to them more often.

The American Huey 369 Organization was formed for the specific purpose of preservation, education and paying tribute to ALL veterans/patriots. Vietnam veterans have a special place in the hearts of many members.

Last year, the American Huey 369 was brought to Fort Jennings to help celebrate the Bicentennial. By popular demand the Huey returned in 2013 for Fort Fest. Many of you flew in the Huey or a member of your family did. Some of you might say “What is the Huey?” It’s one of the helicopters that flew in Vietnam.

The American Huey 369 Organization is based in Peru, Ind., where they hold an annual reunion of members. Brothers, John and Dave Walker are co-founders of the Huey 369 Organization. John is a veteran, who flew a helicopter in Vietnam. He saw an ad in a paper or magazine that a Huey was for sale in Bangor, Maine. The two brothers drove to Maine and hauled it home. Since that time they have acquired another Huey and have built a temporary museum in Peru. The organization has grown to over 3,000 members and they are in the process of building a larger museum, which will house the history of the use of the Bell Helicopters which were used by all branches of the service.War heroes from left to right, are, William Brett Wightman, Edward August “Augie” Schroeder II and Grant B Fraser.

You can become a member of the organization for $100, which entitles the members to have a ride in the Huey.

They started their museum in 2005 and really believe that God has called them to do this because the rides in the Warbird and the camaraderie with other veterans helps vets to experience healing from the experiences they had while serving in the war or wars. You can visit their website at or by calling John Walker at 765-469-2727 or call Jim Dickman at 419-692-2236.

How many of you had the privilege to visit “The Eyes of Freedom” when it was on display at the fire station in Fort Jennings? If you have not seen it, it will return to Fort Jennings in 2014. It is a very touching and impressive display of paintings. It consists of eight paintings of 23 fallen Marines from the Lima Company, out of Columbus.

The Eyes of Freedom was created by an Ohio artist, Anita Miller, after she heard of the tragedy of these men losing their lives. Between May and August of 2005, 22 Marines and one Navy Corpsman of the Lima Company, 3rd Battalion, 25th Regiment, died in the service of their country while deployed to Iraq. Though the Marine Reserve Unit was mostly from Ohio, these fallen heroes represent seven states from Alaska to the East Coast.

Miller had a career as a Clinical Medical Support Hypnotherapist where she could further her interest in helping people utilize their mind-body connection for healing. She began drawing and painting around the age of 30 and had a little studio, Artists Roost in Westerville. After she heard of The Lima Company, she had a dream in which she saw “the finished product”, the memorial paintings in the Rotunda of the Ohio State Capitol, and felt she was being called to create it. With the help of families of the fallen or survivors of the L3/25, she created and unveiled it in the State House Rotunda in 2008, as her vision had foretold. Mike Strahle, after retiring from Lima Company, saw the display and knew he had witnessed something special as he viewed this memorial. Three years later he contacted the artist and requested her to share her memorial paintings with the rest of the world. Mike had been severely injured while fighting along with those fellow Marines. A friend of the artist, Liz Branender created a not-for-profit organization, The Lima Company Memorial, which helps take the memorial on tour across the country. The men’s spirits live on through this memorial and their eyes tell such a story. This is a “must see” when it returns to Fort Jennings. For more information, call Kurly Burgei at 419-286-2974.

Randy Gasser, US Navy Retired, introduced us and prospective employers to ESGR, Employer Support of the Guard and Reserves. Randy is the lesion between The University of Northwestern Ohio and the military to help veterans and their families attending the University. The Mission of the ESGR is to have employers sign the Statement of Support in regard to their employees who are members of the National Guard or the Reserves and need to go to their training on week-ends or annually and still have their jobs when they return. Some men get deployed and serve for longer periods of time and need to have no fear of losing their jobs, while they are away serving their country. The organization also advocates the hiring of the members of the Reserves or National Guard and also veterans who need employment after serving their country. These men and women make good employees because they have learned to be on time, are physically fit, understand diversity, are loyal and have a can-do attitude. They have been through it and have seen “everything” so sometimes they have a problem with the Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome. They need special understanding. If you would like to learn more about ESGR, you can use the website, or phone 1-800-336-4590 or call Gasser at UNOH. The employees are required to give notice to their employer when they know of pending service.

We all should remember, especially this week-end to say “Thanks!” to a veteran. We would not be free if these heroes had not served their country so faithfully.


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