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Honoring veterans at Tee It Up for the Troops

A Gold Star mother lays a yellow rose at the Battle Cross in honor of her son Monday, Aug. 13 at the fourth annual Tee It Up for the Troops event near Hudson. Photo courtesy of Chris Berg1 / 3
World War II veterans honored at the fourth annual Tee it Up for the Troops event Aug. 13 at Troy Burne included John Helling, Don Lind, John McGuire, Paul Martinson, Donald Munkwitz, Orville Schettle, and Walter “Scotty” Strey. Photo courtesy of Chris Berg2 / 3
The Hudson Veterans of Foreign Wars and American Legion Honor Guard at the fourth annual Tee It Up for the Troops at Troy Burne on Monday, Aug. 13. Photo courtesy of Chris Berg3 / 3

Tee It Up for the Troops in partnership with Troy Burne Golf Course held its fourth annual golf event Monday, Aug. 13. Our mission is to honor, respect, remember and support those who have sacrificed for our country and for each of us. It is our military men and women who have

made it possible for us to experience the freedoms we enjoy today. We are grateful for their sacrifices, commitment, bravery and undeniable love for our country.

Tee It Up for the Troops was established in 2005 by family and friends of a brave young man named Tyler Ball, who enlisted in the US Army after Sept. 11, 2001. When the father asked the son what he needed the soldier responded by asking his father to do something for the soldiers and their families back home.

TIUFTT was created to honor that request and to recognize the needs of all veterans who have served and continue to serve this great nation.

The opening ceremony started with a bagpiper playing "Amazing Grace" followed by the presentation of the colors by the Hudson Chapters of the Veterans of Foreign Wars and American Legion.

As the "Star Spangled Banner" was sung by Debbie O'Keefe, renowned singer from Hudson, a 20-foot flag was raised. Following the flag raising, all in attendance stood up and recited the Pledge of Allegiance.

After that came the introduction of the veterans who have benefited from the programs offered by TIUFTT; Scott Adams, Derek Goodridge, Jessie Sievers, Ken Hendrickson, Rene Norton, Len Erickson, Matthew Terry, Marty Caraway, Mark Tregarthen, Mary Jo York, C.J. Geeker, and Reid Erickson.

One of the primary objectives of this year's opening ceremony was to honor WWII veterans. With help from the St. Croix Valley Veterans Service Officer and several event committee members we were able to identify seven local WWII veterans who could travel to the event and be honored in person. They are John Helling, Truck Driver, Engineering Division, 31st Infantry; Don Lind, US Army Tech 5, HQ Battalion Continental Base Section; John McGuire, Radio Operator B-24 "Queen Louise," US 8th Air Force; Paul Martinson, 8th Army Engineer Tech 4; Donald Munkwitz; US Army Heavy Truck Driver-4605 Trsp.Co.,Orville Schettle, US Navy

Gunner/Coxswain,and Walter "Scotty" Strey, Navy Seaman First Class Signalman/Gunner and Landing Craft Vehicle Pilot.

We were awed by their presence. Three generations of American veterans representing six wars were present.

Pastor Larry Szyman, pastor at Faith Community Church of Hudson, gave the invocation.

After the Invocation came the laying of roses at the site of the Battlefield Cross by Gold Star families. There can be nothing more difficult for a family to lose a loved one while serving. We are forever grateful for the unbelievable sacrifice of our Gold Star families. Their grief is unimaginable.

The first Gold Star family member to come forward was Peggy Hoyer, the mother of SPC Bert E. Hoyer. Hoyer, 23, was assigned to the 652nd Engineers Company, Army Reserve from Ellsworth. He was killed March 10, 2004 when an improvised explosive device hit his convoy in Baqubah, Iraq.

The second Gold Star family was Cheryl Lee Patrick, the mother of SSG Patrick Lee Lybert, 28, was from Ladysmith (KIA June 22, 2006) Gowardesh, Afghanistan. Patrick was a member of U.S. Army 3-71 CAV.

This was followed by a 21 gun salute and playing of Taps and a moment of silence to remember 9/11/2001. This was followed by a Ringing of the Bells for Excellence. The bell tolled seven times. The first six tolls are to honor those who have: Responded, Served, Protected, Defended, Sacrificed and Suffered. The seventh toll is to signify the Loss of Life.

O'Keefe finished her part of the ceremony with a beautiful rendition of "God Bless America." The Honor Guard closed the opening ceremony by retiring the colors.

The golfers left for their respective starting holes while the WWII veterans, committee members and volunteers had a nice lunch followed by great stories by the WWII veterans.

Following lunch we all went out to the veranda to watch a flyover performed by the T-6 Thunder, a group of 4 pilots flying WWII T-6 Training Fighters. This was a special presentation in honor of our WWII vets.

The evening ceremony included dinner with an address by guest speaker, Terry Branham, Colonel, Retired Army & Tee It Up National Board Member.

The fifth annual Tee It Up for the Troops Golf Event will be held Aug. 12, 2019. To see more about TIUFTT and Troy Burne go to: www.teeitupforthetroops.org/Troy Burne.

If you are interested in becoming a sponsor or would like to make a donation contact Bill Rouleau, Event Coordinator at williamrouleau@yahoo.com.

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