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County Commission recognizes a host of veterans
new deh county commission quilt pic web
Army veteran and Barton County Commissioner Homer Kruckenberg is presented with a Quilt of Valor by Mary Lou Weiser, at left, and Doris Berkley during the County Commission meeting Monday morning. - photo by DALE HOGG Great Bend Tribune

 In other business Monday morning, the Barton County Commission:

• Approved naming Barton County Emergency Manager Amy Miller to the Cow Creek Wastershed Working Group. The Kansas Department of Agriculture, Division of Water Resources, in cooperation with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, is engaging in a RiskMAP project in the Cow Creek watershed that will involve Barton County. Barton County continues to seek applications for appointment. 

 At the Barton County Commission meeting Monday morning, six county veterans received the recognition they deserved. Their names will be added to the third stone to be set as part of the Golden Belt Veterans Memorial.

There was also a special surprise.

The recognition came as part of a presentation by the Golden Belt chapter of the Quilts of Valor Foundation. The foundation honors service members and veterans touched by war, said Amy Mellor of the local group, adding the Golden Plains chapter has a specific goal of awarding quilts to local veterans.  

Presented with a quilt during the meeting was a very shocked and moved Commissioner Homer Kruckenberg, an Army and Army Reserves veteran. “I had no idea” this was going to happen, Kruckenberg said.

In addition, as the effort to fill stone three with names begins, Barton County teamed with the organization to honor six individuals that have received a quilt, but are not yet included on the memorial.

“We have some news this morning,” Mellor said. The commission invited the six selected veterans that have received a quilt that are not on the monument to the meeting.  

The vets, all from Great Bend, along with their sponsors, are:

• Harry Adams, USA, WW II (Diana Watson is the sponsor as Adams is her uncle. Adams was unable to attend Monday, but his daughter Gayle Briscoe was present.)

• Dave Christiansen, Army (Amy Mellor, Quilts of Valor, sponsored Christiansen)

• John Detmer, Air Force, Korea (Sheriff Brian Bellendir sponsored as his father was a Korean Conflict vet)

• Jack Durbin, Navy, WW II and Korea (County Administrator Richard Boeckman sponsored) 

• Darrell Peters, Navy, WW II (Mellor also sponsored Peters)

• Walter Underwood, Army, Korea. The commission sponsored Underwood using donated funds) 

“Veterans are near and dear to my heart,” said Commission Chairman and Army vet Don Davis said. “For all the things they’ve done for us, we a lot of times fail to recognize our veterans.”

He said he appreciated all their service and is proud the county was able to establish the memorial.

Yet more honorees

In a related matter, the commission accepted a $225 donations from Sylvan Bleeker to honor Vietnam Veterans from Barton County who were killed in action or missing in action. After a search of the Kansas Historical Society data, it was learned that only six men were included in these categories, County Administrator Richard Boeckman said.

Of those six, three are already included on the first stone. They are: Marine Pfc. Robert Riedel of Hoisington who was killed in 1965; Marine Pfc. Edward Saenz of Great Bend killed in 1968; and Army 2nd Lt. John Simmons of Hoisington who died in 1968.

The new honorees are: Army Spc. Kent Amerine of Great Bend who was killed in 1966; Air Force Col. Frederick Karst of Galatia who was shot down in 1974; and Army Spc. Conrad Straub of Claflin who died in 1967.

The donation covers one line for each. However, many stone entries include more than one line, so more can be purchased for these individuals.

The first stone was dedicated on Veterans Day 2015, and enough names have been collected so the county hopes to have the second ready for dedication by Veterans Day this year. 

The memorial honors vets with ties to Barton County from all branches of the service who served in all wars and conflicts.

Those wanting to purchase a spot on the memorial can bring their payments to the Barton County Administrator’s Office in room 107 of the courthouse at 1400 Main in Great Bend. For more information, call 620-793-1800.

Checks must be made payable to Barton County.