Dexter United Methodist Church Celebrates & Recognizes Its Veterans

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From Jean Klark

November 11, 2021

Dexter United Methodist Church hosted a complimentary dinner and program for 35 local Veterans and their spouses or family members on Veterans Day, Thursday, November 11. In the colorful and beautifully decorated Atrium, Chef Frank Schramm (Army/Airforce 1961-1967) and his team of dedicated volunteers made that happen with an excellent dinner appreciated by all.

The program began prior to the dinner where the large group moved to the Commons Area (gymnasium) for the dedication of the newly displayed American Flag. Veteran John Kinzinger (Army, 1966-1968) led the group in a dedication reading followed by the Pledge of Allegiance. Jean Klark, program host and emcee, led the crowd in an acappella singing of “My Country ‘Tis of Thee”. Pastor Tim Broyles shared specially chosen words of inspiration and prayer.

Following the dinner, the Missing Man’s Ceremony and symbols were read by Dave Draper (Air Force 1966-1970) in remembrance of all MIA and POW soldiers who haven’t returned home. Jean Klark followed with a remembrance of church member Richard Bain (Navy, 1957-1961) who recently died. He was part of the Veterans and Soldiers Advisory Group at Dexter UMC, and someone who loved humor and fun, playing a circus clown along with his wife Janice at many events in Florida and Dexter. Richard specialized in making balloons for the children.

KUDOS were given to the food staff; all office staff who supported the plans for the evening (Beth Snyder, Cathy Hunter, Cathy Leadley, Norma Heller and Lauren Kramer); a special thanks to Donna Piper, to Tony Keezer who donated the American flag, and to Berry Bourne, Mike McCalla, Dave Aeschliman and Dave Meyer for its installation. Humor was incorporated throughout the program that made for a lively and fun evening of laughter along with remembrances.

Special recognition was given to Meni Draper who was awarded the “Behm of Light Award” for her active and weekly support of Veterans and involvement in The WACUA (Warriors and Caregivers United) group. WACUA supports those who care for their injured Veterans and all that may include. One person is honored each year for this special acknowledgement.

David Draper, Commander of the Erwin Prieskkorn American Legion Post 4 on Wagner Road, Ann Arbor, was presented with the State of Michigan “Veteran of the Year“ Award. Given by the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency, Dave was the very first recipient of this distinguished honor. Dave’s activities for Veterans is full time: collecting food, planning activities at the VA, raising funds and leading his Vietnam Veterans post. With his humble and caring manner and a compassionate heart, he provides a listening ear and a place to be with brother Veterans. Meni and Dave are members of our Veterans and Soldiers Advisory Group at Dexter UMC, and we are more than proud of them!

Speaker for the evening was Carl Espy, Dexter Church Member and Vietnam Veteran (Army 1970-1972). His talk about his military experiences was interesting, amusing and inspiring.

The Roll Call List at Dexter UMC has 62 members, with 14 others who are deceased. The evening closed with each Veteran in attendance being recognized. Berry Bourne (Army, 1963-1965) handled this part of the program as he moved around the room. Each Veteran stood, introduced himself, told the branch of service he served in and the years served. This was a special time for many who perhaps had never been officially recognized in their communities. Pastor Tom Snyder gave a meaningful benediction, then a special picture was taken by the fireplace of the entire Veterans group. We couldn’t fit all of them on the phone screens!

Jean Klark noted that she formed the Veterans and Soldiers group at Dexter UMC in special recognition of her brother, Alan Boyce who served in the Marines as a helicopter rescue pilot during the Vietnam War (1968-1973). He never talked about much of what he saw, but he did emphasize the poor and insulting treatment many military people experienced once they came back to US soil after leaving the Vietnam War activities where they risked their lives and lost many of their friends in combat.

Members of the Veterans and Soldiers Advisory Group include Jean Klark, Lead; Berry Bourne, Julie Boyd, Dave Draper, Meni Draper, Karen Keezer, Tony Keezer, Berta Kennel, Jane Kinzinger, John Kinzinger, Brian Logie, Bonnie Winkelman and Len Winkelman.

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