By Joe Bachman
WISCONSIN RAPIDS — The Wood County Veterans Memorial Committee hosted its annual Memorial Day Weekend dedication ceremony on Friday.
Held outside of the Wood County Courthouse, the ceremony welcomed 14 names to the legacy stones that surround the Veterans Memorial, including one name added to the memorial itself. Two benches were also added to the memorial — one from Sheriff Thomas Reichert in honor and recognition of those who served, and the other in memory of Robert Poplin, who served in World War II.
“The federal holiday of Memorial is not just the first long weekend of summer, but a weekend for remembrance for those fallen,” said Mayor Zach Vruwink, who was the featured speaker at the ceremony. “Further, protecting our country’s freedom is not just a national battle, but as many of you know first hand it’s also a local effort. These women and men are our friends; our brothers and sisters, our parents and grandparents, our aunts and uncles and cousins who live in our community.”
“We must continue to hold these public servants in high regard; to remember their story,” said Vruwink.
Wood County Veterans Memorial Committee member Karen Schill read the names of those receiving legacy stones, including the story of Robert Poplin, whose bench was dedicated during the ceremony.
“Bob was a 1944 graduate of Plainfield High School. He served in the Navy during World War II, and was stationed in Cuba until 1948. Bob married Gertrude in 1951, and worked at the U.S. Post Office until his retirement in 1982. Bob was very involved in the local chapter of the Disabled American Veterans. He sold ‘forget-me-nots’ on the hottest days in July, all day long. Bob passed away last July — we welcomed his family, Gertrude and Donna and grandchildren, as we dedicate the bench in his honor.”
Legacy Stone Dedication
-Donald R Bey
-Kyle S Draxler
-Donald K Gustin
-Lawrence Jepson (Former World War II P.O.W. and recipient of the Silver Star Medal)
-David A Ryun
-Albert C Swetz
-Steve J Swetz
The name of Michael Lockman was added to the memorial, as well. Lockman served in Operation Iraqi Freedom with the 27th Infantry Regiment. (Wolfhounds) Lockman passed away in October of 2016.
“Mike joined the United States Army because he wanted to make the world a better place,” said Schill. “He also wanted to continue the strong history of the Lockman family.”
District Attorney and Captain, Wisconsin Army National Guard, Craig Lambert served as Master of Ceremonies, while the East Junior High School band provided music before the after the event.