There are men in Portage who fought in Vietnam. Men like Dennis Benson, Chris Schutz, and Ronald Woodard. Men like Bob Gerhartz and Dave DuVall. Men who crewed C-130s. Men, with their trusty beloved dog by their side, roaring across the skies in helicopters. Men who operated small rockets, worked cargo, baked the best bread for an admiral along the Cambodian border. There are men and women in Portage, and beyond, who are more than just men and women. They are heroes.
“When you walk down the streets of Portage,” the veterans say, chumming it up behind the counter of the local VFW, “you don’t know how many heroes you’re passing by.”
There will be a greater indication of local heroes on Saturday, March 18.
At the VFW by the Walgreens at 215 West Collins Street, the public is invited to a free Vietnam Veterans Day Luncheon and Program. Everyone is invited and welcomed to attend, help recognize, and give thanks to all who served during the Vietnam War. It goes from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
At 11 a.m. there will be a short program including proclamations and a presentation of colors. The proclamation will come from Portage Mayor Mitch Craig.
Memorabilia will also be on display, as well as a video shown of Vietnam veterans. Guests are encouraged to bring their own memorabilia to share.
Food will be served. It will include sandwiches, baked beans, potato salad, beverages, and more.
There is no cost to attend. The event is coordinated by Portage VFW Post 1707, the Poynette American Legion Post 271, and Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 221.
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The Vietnam War Veterans Recognition Act, signed into law in 2017, designates March 29 of each year as National Vietnam War Veterans Day. Portage is eager to celebrate it early on March 18.
“This community has been so heartwarming,” said David DuVall, about how it supports local veterans. “It’s fulfilling.” He noted that Vietnam veterans are just “average joes.” “We went to college. We raised families. We’re good citizens. We look out for each other and the community.”
A celebration of veterans this Friday with the Sauk County Veterans Breakfast
DuVall is eager to gather his compatriots and the public to share stories, commiserate, show appreciation for each other, have the public take note of the sacrifices made and strength within local veterans.
“I am proud that I served and I am proud of how I served,” DuVall said.
He is proud of veterans’ lifelong acts of compassion, friendship, and respect. He’s also proud of what Vietnam veterans have done for future veterans, particularly in regard to veterans’ benefits.
And Portage is proud of them in return. School children treat them well. People come up to them all the time, they say, thanking them for their service. If they’re wearing some indication that they served, a hat or a T-shirt, into the local Walmart or McDonald’s, someone will thank them more often than not. What’s more, sometimes they’ll pay for the veteran’s meal without another thought.
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The men chatted and laughed at the VFW about their tours of duty decades ago. Some would do it again, if only they were younger.
They’re getting older. They laugh that some, as they age, remain better looking than others. They remember back to their youths, eager to make an impact on the world, joining the military with thoughts of duty and honor to their country. Men and women, yes. Heroes, yes.
215 West Collins Street
Portage , Wisconsin 53901