Eight military personnel will be welcomed home Saturday with a community celebration that combines the people and resources of two long-standing Marion veterans organizations.
“VFW Post 6958 and American Legion Post 22 have different philosophies in our views about veterans, but the Legion and the VFW are working together to facilitate a celebration of the return of these veterans,” Amercian Legion Post Commander Kevin Hofer said.
“It takes us both. They have the facilities, and we have the ‘want to,’” Hofer said. “We need each other, and collectively we can offer a just and proper celebration for the guys coming back.”
Area military personnel who have completed tours of duty in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Africa will be honored at the event, which will take place at the VFW post and is open to the community.
“These people have done the unimaginable — the strife and the hardships they’ve put up with during their tours should be rewarded by appreciative acts of the community they return to,” Hofer said.
Hofer’s own experience as a returning veteran of the Vietnam War is personal incentive to make sure these veterans receive the honor and respect their service is due.
“I was a Vietnam veteran, and when I came back it wasn’t so nice. I’ve sworn that’s not going to happen again,” Hofer said.
James Schlehuber, Tracy and Shad Winter, Matt Williams, Tyler Mermis, Gerred Helm, Bronson Shipman, and Joshua Fruechting have confirmed their attendance at the event in their honor, Hofer said.
“We’ve got some quality people coming back. I hope we can entice them into staying and being productive members of the community,” Hofer said. “We want to let these kids know they did a great job, and we really enjoy having them come back here.”
American Legion motorcycle riders will kick off the event at 2:45 p.m. with a flag tribute ride from Eastmoor Methodist Church to the VFW post.
State representative Bob Brookens and Marion Mayor Mary Olson, as well as American Legion and VFW regional and state officers, have been invited to the ceremony and reception, which will start at 3 p.m.
VFW Post 6958 is located 420 West Santa Fe Street in Marion.