FORT McCOY, Wis. –
The Fort McCoy community gathered together for an Our Community Salutes event at Fort McCoy, Wisconsin on Armed Forces Day, May 19, to salute graduating high school seniors who have enlisted in the military.
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.
The 88th Readiness Division Commanding General Maj. Gen. Patrick Reinert spoke at the event which hosted 90 attendees including U.S. Army, U.S. Army Reserve, and Wisconsin Army National Guard, their family members and friends.
Army Reserve Ambassador for Wisconsin Gerald W. Meyer also attended the event. Meyer has been involved with OCS for the past three years as vice president of the board.
“I believe our commitment, as a community, to these ninety Wisconsin young adults entering active Army and National Guard service this year is paramount to the support and defense of our state and country,” Meyer said. “We conduct this ceremony to confirm with enlistees, and their loved ones, the importance of entering military service.”
A special guest of honor, Medal of Honor recipient retired Sergeant Major Kenneth E. Stumpf, spoke to the enlistees and shared personal stories from his time in service.
“This year we had Medal of Honor recipient SGM Ken Stumpf present ceremony certificates to all the enlistees, which was outstanding,” Meyer stated. “His comments during the ceremony about earning the Medal of Honor were truly amazing. His impact on these young adults has the potential to be lifelong.”
Stumpf told stories about his mother receiving his draft notice and how he wanted to throw baseballs and ended up throwing hand grenades. He also spoke about being the recipient of the Medal of Honor and how the men he lost that day in battle were the ones who earned the medal.
Stumpf was drafted into the Army from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and by April 25, 1967 was serving as a Specialist in the Republic of Vietnam. Stumpf rescued three wounded comrades despite heavy fire and single-handedly disabled an enemy bunker. He was subsequently promoted to Staff Sergeant.
An article, titled One-Man Wrecking Crew Wastes VC Bunkers, published in an online history of the 35th Infantry Regiment states, “In September 1967, Stumpf was discharged from the Army and returned to his old factory job in Menasha, Wisconsin. In April 1968, he got a call from an Army officer with the news that he had won his nation's highest military award. At the urging of the Army, Stumpf re-enlisted and served another tour in Vietnam, where he was wounded while assaulting an enemy position. On 30 September 1994, after 29 years in the Army, Sergeant Major Kenneth Stumpf retired.”
Reinert, who spoke before Stumpf, emphasized the sacrifice generations of veterans have made and the impact military service can bring.
“Choosing to serve your country at any time is noble; to do so during a time of war shows true commitment and dedication,” Reinert said. “Many generations of veterans have walked before you and their accomplishments and sacrifices have paved the way for a better future.
“It will be the biggest challenge you ever face. It will break you down and build you up into a stronger person than you ever thought possible,” Reinert said.
Reinert also spoke of the need for Soldiers to stay in close contact with their families throughout the early years of their career. He stressed how important the family support system would be for them in the future and how much their loved ones needed their support and encouragement as well.
Meyer said this event was not just an exciting event for the enlistees, but an emotional one for the families.
“The parents and loved ones who attended the ceremony were sad and nervous that their sons and daughters were leaving to enter military service, but were also extremely proud of them for making this commitment to America's Armed Forces,” Meyer said.
Medal of Honor recipient retired Sgt. Maj. Kenneth Stumpf’s citation can be found at http://www.cmohs.org/recipient-detail/3427/stumpf-kenneth-e.php. Please take a moment to read about his heroism during the Vietnam War.