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Honoring veterans...

Master Chief Petty Officer Mark Helling1 / 3
American Legion Fletcher-Pechacek Post 121 Officer Commander Ed Miller stands by a display case within the Legion hall, 710 N. Main St., which features remodels inside and outside and a push for younger members. <i>Jillian Dexheimer photo</i>2 / 3
Students from the River Falls Family and Consumer Education Foods II and the Connections classes will be hosting a free luncheon for veterans from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 12, at the American Legion, 710 N. Main St.3 / 3

Free lunch honors veterans

To honor veterans and their families, the River Falls Family and Consumer Education Foods II and the Connections high school classes will be hosting a free luncheon from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 12, at the American Legion, 710 N. Main St.

For more information contact Sue Schwartz at 715-425-1830 ext. 1221.

Veteran's Day celebrated at school

On Monday, Nov. 12, Meyer Middle School will host its fourth annual Veteran's Day program.

Doors will open at 1 p.m. and the program will start at 1:30 p.m. with keynote speaker, Master Chief Petty Officer Mark P. Helling of the United States Navy.

Helling, a UW-River Falls graduate was, according to his biography, "...a command individual augmentee coordinator (CIAC) action officer at (the) United States fleet forces command at naval support activity from September 2011 to September 2012" and is currently "...a senior intelligence analyst with TSM Corporation and assigned to a division within (the) United States central command."

In addition to Helling, three students from each grade will share a speech that they wrote titled, "What does Veteran's Day mean to me?"

To honor the veterans in attendance, the MMS choir will perform a military medley, where they will sing each military branch's song, while members of that branch stand. The school band will also perform.

After the program, a social time will feature cookies, coffee and juice.

University celebrates veterans all week

A series of programs and events have been scheduled during the week of Veterans Day to honor veterans and to provide valuable services to veterans attending UW-River Falls. These events and programs include:

  • Monday, Nov. 12, Veteran's Day program at 11 a.m., front lawn of North Hall.
  • Tuesday, Nov. 13, Breakfast with the Chancellor from 8:30-10 a.m. UW-River Falls Chancellor Dean Van Galen will meet with veteran students and family members over breakfast
  • Wednesday, Nov.14, the Veterans Center Van will be in front of the University Center to provide information about veterans to the general public as well as assisting with veteran healthcare set-up.
  • Thursday, Nov.15, veterans will be going to Trinity Equestrian Center to learn about the Equine program for veterans and meet with UW-Eau Claire veterans.

Additionally, there will be a field of honor in front of the University Center and highlighted veterans in Heritage Hall of the University Center throughout the week.

For more information, contact Nicole Lillis, veteran program manager at UW-River Falls, at 715-425-3529 or

Look at the Legion

With an aging membership, the local American Legion Fletcher-Pechacek Post 121 is looking to attract younger men and women to its ranks.

Established by Congress in 1919, the American Legion is the largest national wartime veterans' organization.

According to Post 121 officer commander, Ed Miller, to be a part of the American Legion one has to have served in the military during active wartime -- there are other organizations for those in the military who serve during non-active wartime.

Post 121 has 390 members, 20 of whom are women. Most members are between the ages of 60-65, including 45 World War II veterans.

"Our job and expectation is to recruit the Desert Storm guys," said Miller, who served during the Korean War from 1951-1952 as a Naval photographer.

To get new members and continue the improvement going on along North Main Street, the Legion spruced up the building at 710 N. Main Street -- with a new façade, roof, landscaping, flags and benches.

Inside in the rental space and lounge, new paint and wainscoting is being applied.

Besides remodeling, Miller said that the Legion is offering Friday morning coffee and rolls, but more importantly it offers a chance for members to relate with fellow veterans.

"This is someplace to get it off their shoulders," said Miller. "They can talk to fellas who get it."

To encourage and support the new veterans, Legion members go out one-on-one and talk with them about what the Legion is about and how it can help.

The purpose of the American Legion, according to Miller, is to support vets, vets' families and the children of the community.

They do this by sponsoring the local Boy and Cub Scout organizations, Legion baseball, Badger boys state, high school scholarships and needy veterans and their families.

With about 100 active members, Miller is hoping that younger members, "...will bring the same zeal that some of the older guys have."

He went on to say that there is a good core group that runs the fundraisers the local Legion sponsors. Those include: chicken fries and bingo -- see photo gallery and video on the RFJ homepage.

The Legion also sells Christmas trees each year.

Miller said they will get their tree shipment the day after Thanksgiving. If it goes anything like last year -- they sold out in nine days -- people may want to get to the Legion sooner rather than later.

The Legion also rents out its main hall for wedding receptions, parties and gatherings.

For more information about the American Legion Fletcher-Pechacek Post 121 visit or call 715-425-7362.

More details on this story are included in the Nov. 8 print edition of the River Falls Journal.