Trinity Christian Center, located on Pribble Road in Lawrenceburg, held its fifth annual Veterans’ Appreciation Dinner on Saturday, May 13th, with Pastor Corey Potts welcoming them with an opening prayer. There were approximately 450 people in attendance and 160 of them were veterans.
All veterans were recognized and presented with a beautiful challenge coin and retired star from an American Flag to carry with them. The coins were made by United States Marine Dale Punch who also makes the challenge coins for our Medal of Honor Recipients. Dale lives in North Carolina but has friends here in Southeastern Indiana, including fellow Marine Ebbie Roberts of Greendale. The stars were from Blue Star Mother, Lorene Friedman, who is very active in Blue Star and Gold Star events.
The Colors were presented by the Sea Cadets under the guidance of Scott Novinger.
Quilts of Valor were presented to brothers Tom and JD Largent and Ivan Chalk by Cindy Peace, Sheila Stevenson and PG Gentrup.
The Pledge of Allegiance was recited by all and led by the American Heritage Girls and Trail Life Boys. The National Anthem was presented by the group ‘Safe in the Harbor’.
A delicious buffet dinner was served by the church members under the leadership of Judy Potts.
There were 10 World War II Veterans in attendance this year: George Klopp, Frank Savage, Bob Savage, Mary Gargano, Buddy Foster, Norm Hendricks, Lawrence Lyttle, Alice Schuler, Bobby Lischkge and Bush White. Norm Hendricks will turn 103 in July. They were all thanked for their dedication and service to our nation and for being a member of America’s ‘Greatest Generation’. These are some of America’s finest who have made it possible for all of us to be able to live the American Dream. The trio of Angie Little, Tori Bamberger and Martha Collins (three generations of family talent) sang a beautiful rendition of ‘Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy’. ‘Safe in the Harbor’ performed ‘Under God’ and also ‘In God We Trust’.
Hank Little and Dan McAdams did a fantastic job with American Soldier and Arlington. Tori Bamberger and Angie Little put a few tears in the eyes of everyone with ‘Military Hallelujah’. Landon Smith jumped up on stage and had the piano bouncing off the walls with his rendition of ‘As Time Goes By’ and his ‘Military Medley’ dedicated to the Marine, Army, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard veterans in attendance. Judy Wesley, who is the Angel of our veterans, is the lady who plans and coordinates this first class banquet each year and she puts her whole heart in it. She presents the video Angel Flight and it’s such a moving piece and brings a flash flood of emotions. Judy compiled a poem a few years ago that came to her in a dream and has read it at the banquet and funerals. It comes from the heart and is very personal and the crowd was once again very moved by her reading of it.
Judy then recognized the Purple Heart Recipients in attendance and Fred Lester and Richard Sommers stood up to a round of applause. Judy introduced those Gold Star Family members who attended: Tim Denning, brother of Tommy Denning, who was killed in Vietnam on March 2nd, 1967, age 19, serving as a U.S. Marine. Tim is also a Marine. Linda Seig, whose son Tony was killed in action in Iraq, is a Gold Star Mother. Tony was serving in the Army and died just shy of his 20th birthday at Baghdad, Iraq. He was born on September 18th, 1986 and was killed on September 9th, 2006. Shorty and Charlie Booker are Gold Star Parents who lost their son, K.R. Booker, on November 14th, 2007 in Iraq with the Army. These brave, young men died protecting our freedoms and have made the supreme sacrifice for our nation.
There were several American Flags posted outside the church on 8′ poles and were placed there by the Patriot Guard Riders, led by Ride Captain, Tim Kieffer. Also the POW-MIA Flag was displayed along with the service flag for the Marine Corps, Army, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard. A silhouette of an American Soldier was displayed on the outside wall of the church with the soldier kneeling with his rifle.
Kiley Myatt was surprised with a nice certificate presented by Ron Spurlock and PG Gentrup for her faithful and dedicated service to our veterans. Kiley is the most pleasant young lady you could meet and coordinates the ‘Hometown Hero’ program for the Cincinnati Reds and has worked with Ron and PG to make it possible for several Southeastern Indiana Veterans to step up on top of the Reds dugout and be recognized on the big screen and by the thousands of cheering fans the past few years. It’s a time they won’t forget and Kiley if very much appreciated for her efforts.
Michelle Carter is a Major in the U.S. Army and has been on active duty for over 20 years with several 18 month deployments to Iraq, Afghanistan and other countries with the Global War on Terrorism. Judy Wesley introduced her to the crowd who gave her a standing ovation and her big, bright smile immediately won them over. She told how she had met Judy Wesley thru the program that Trinity Church has when they send boxes to our troops serving overseas. She always looked forward to receiving those treats and finally was able to meet Judy face to face at the banquet and some big hugs followed with a little bouncing. Michelle is a very patriotic lady and you can tell how proud she is to serve the USA.
Judy then started talking about honoring a Special Veteran and one was caught completely off guard – PG Gentrup. Judy called him forward and with a surprise that left him speechless, he was presented a painting. Judy called for his family to come forward and he told her they were not there but another surprise – his wife, Paula, daughter Kelli and husband, Rich, along with three of the grandkids, twins Carli and Grady, along with Coleton, came walking up to join him. The beautiful painting was painted by artist, Mark Thesken, who has painted at the banquets in previous years. It had a very young PG in the corner with the American Flag flying and soldiers facing the flag with an eagle flying in. It’s just an incredible piece of work. PG thanked everybody especially those World War II Veterans for making his life what it is because of their sacrifices.
JD Largent came to the stage to present Judy Wesley with a smaller copy of the Mark Thesken painting donated to the Korean War Veterans last year. It was a photo of the painting in a frame with a sincere thank you to Judy Wesley for her dedication to our veterans. When JD was introduced to the crowd, his wife Donna, was recognized for her contributions and dedication to the Korean War Veterans Chapter #4 because she is the backbone of the organization by coordinating all the events they are involved in. She tells them where to go, what time to be there and what to wear. She keeps them well organized with this volunteering of her time and it’s very much appreciated by all and especially the Color Guard.
We can’t give enough thanks for those who did the wonderful singing; Angie Little, Tori Bamberger, Martha Collins, Hank Little, Dan McAdams, Chris Robinson and Dustin Combs and it touched all who were there.
It’s such a blessing to attend such a program that is dedicated to our veterans and feel appreciated. Judy Wesley thanked each war that was represented at the banquet and once again concluded with ‘Welcome Home’ to our Vietnam Veterans.
Trinity Christian Church would like to invite you to the banquet next year and all you have to do is call (812) 623-0173 and they will add you to the mailing list for next year.
It makes you proud to be an American and we’re all on the same page when it comes to patriotism as we are One Nation Under God. May God Bless these wonderful people for all they do, God Bless our Veterans and their families and God Bless the United States of America.
– PG Gentrup