2012 Veteran of the Year Dinner / DanceThis years dinner/dance brought good news as Howard Armstrong announced that the foundation had met its goal of collecting $187,000 toward the construction of the memorial project. The goal was reached with the help of a $15,000 Community Participation Grant presented by local state representatives (State Sens. Jack Yost, D-Wellsburg, Orphy Klempa, D-Wheeling; and State Dels. Roy Givens, D-Wellsburg, and Phil Diserio, D-Folllansbee). Construction should start later this spring and a dedication should be no later than Veterans Day. Receiving the Veteran of the Year award was George R. "Bobby" Lauck, a WW2 veteran who served in the 1st Armored Division of the 13th Armored Regiment in North Africa and Italy. Lauck brough a chunk of shrapnel to the dinner that had been removed from his back by a military surgeon. It weighed in at 14.2 ounces and was mounted in a display case that he said will be donated to the Brooke Museum. Lauck said that "It's really an honor to be here. I want to thank everyone who had a hand in this celebration."
Lauck received a Purple Heart and four Bronze Stars during his service. His division reclaimed 41 cities from the Nazis and captured 108,740 prisoners of war. After he returned home from the war he returned to driving a coal truck for local mines. He is now 90 years old and has four children, four grandchildren and one great-grandchild. Keynote speaker for the event was Ryan Weld, a Brooke High School graduate who served in Afghanistan as a captain in the Air Force Reserve. Weld reflected on the nation's attitude toward the recent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan and said that even though public sentiment was against the wars, Americans showed tremendous support for the troops. Weld said "Each day in Afghanistan and elsewhere a service member receives a card or care package from someone they have never met". He also added that the volunteer group Welcome Home has greeted more than 900,000 soldiers returning home from service abroad as they arrive at the Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport. Assisting with the ceremony were members of the Brooke Memorial Squad, who have provided their services at hundreds of funerals for veterans in the area, and also two members of the Coast Guard who officiated the "Folding of the Flag" ceremony and presented it to Robert Lauck. They also played "Taps" after a reading of the history of the origin of the song.
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