Barton County Commissioner Homer Kruckenberg was almost in tears as Mary Lou Weiser and Doris Berkley presented him with a Quilt of Valor during the commission meeting Monday morning. It was a short, simple but moving ceremony that not only recognized Kruckenberg for his Army service, but was the start of a series of recognitions honoring veterans.
The ceremony involving Kruckenberg came as part of a presentation by the Golden Belt chapter of the Quilts of Valor Foundation . The Golden Plains chapter has a specific goal of awarding quilts to local veterans, said Amy Mellor representing the local group.
Also, as the effort to fill the third Golden Belt Veterans Memorial third stone with names begins, Barton County teamed with the QOV to honor six vets who have received a quilt, but are not yet included on the memorial.
Five of the six were present Monday.
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)
That wasn’t the end.
The commission received a $225 donation in honor Vietnam Veterans from Barton County who were killed or missing in action. There were six Barton County men who made this sacrifice, three of whom are already on the monument.
Included on the first stone 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 ceremony honoring Kruckenberg and the acceptance of the donations for those KIA really brought home the impact and price of military service.
This memorial project has brought together the county and the generations. It will stand as a lasting tribute.