sm190802-Z-AX240-0134Balsam Lake residents Al Jorgenson and his wife, Ann, help prepare a dinner hosted by The American Legion for the Soldiers and Airmen serving on state active duty in Polk, Barron, and Langlade Counties, Aug. 2. The event, held at The American Legion Post 98 in Cumberland, Wis., served as a Morale, Welfare and Recreation function for the Wisconsin National Guard members continuing to assist with debris removal efforts following the severe weather that swept through Northern Wisconsin July 19-20. (112th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment photo by Staff Sgt. Alexandria Hughes)

CUMBERLAND, Wis. — Members of The American Legion volunteered to host a Morale, Welfare and Recreation dinner at Cumberland’s Post 98 for the nearly 100 Soldiers and Airmen with the Wisconsin National Guard serving on state active duty, Aug. 2.

Elements of the Air and Army National Guard mobilized to Polk, Barron, and Langlade counties in the aftermath of the severe weather that swept through northern Wisconsin July 19-20, and have remained on duty to support damage assessment and debris removal efforts — clearing roadways and ditches to provide safe pathways for civilians and emergency responders.

2nd Lt. Raymond Johns, a 173rd Brigade Engineer Battalion (BEB) platoon leader and the current officer-in-charge of the task force in Polk and Barron Counties, explained how Wisconsin’s communities and organizations have offered their support since the Service Members’ arrival in Northern Wisconsin.

sm190802-Z-AX240-0126Volunteers display the meal they prepared for the nearly 100 Soldiers and Airmen with the Wisconsin National Guard serving on state active duty as part of a Morale, Welfare and Recreation dinner at The American Legion Post 98 in Cumberland, Wis., Aug. 2. Air and Army elements of the Wisconsin National Guard mobilized to Polk, Barron, and Langlade Counties in the aftermath of the severe weather that swept through Northern Wisconsin July 19-20, and have remained on duty to support damage assessment and debris removal efforts. (112th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment photo by Sgt. Alice Ripberger)

“There’s been a ton of civilian support, both individuals stopping by and offering their gratitude or some of these organizations: the American Red Cross, The American Legion, the Salvation Army, helping to make sure we had what we needed,” he said.

The American Legion members and volunteers, many of whom live in the communities affected by the storms, came together in just a few days under the direction of Steven DuBois, commander of The American Legion Post 278 in Balsam Lake, Wisconsin. The Air Force veteran and former pilot explained why he gathered volunteers and Legion assets to provide a hearty meal for the Soldiers and Airmen serving on state active duty.

sm190802-Z-AX240-0159Harry Bauer, Commander, 10th District, The American Legion, Department of Wisconsin (left), and Steven DuBois, Commander of American Legion Post 278 in Balsam Lake (right), address National Guard Soldiers and Airmen during a Morale, Welfare and Recreation dinner hosted by the American Legion in Cumberland, Wis., Aug. 2. The Air Force Veterans gathered volunteers and Legion assets to provide a hearty meal as a way to give back to the Soldiers and Airmen continuing to serve on state active duty following the severe weather that swept through Northern Wisconsin July 19-20. (112th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment photo by Staff Sgt. Alexandria Hughes)

“I was a reservist for 16 years and I enjoy home-cooking,” DuBois said. “The American Legion talks about helping vets, but we don’t have a lot in our area. Today, we do. We have money in our account for moments like this. We walk the walk.”

Spc. Kevin Albrant, a heavy equipment operator with Company A, 173rd BEB, shared why events like The American Legion dinner, and the support of the communities in Polk, Barron, and Langlade counties, are important.

“It means a lot to have the work we’re doing supported and appreciated by the community,” Albrant said. “It makes it easier to do your job and do it the best of your ability knowing the community and organizations like this are backing you. They’re feeding us well and helping to make sure we have everything we need to stay focused on our mission.”

sm190802-Z-AX240-0179Ann Jorgenson, a resident of Balsam Lake, helps serve a dinner hosted by The American Legion for the Soldiers and Airmen serving on state active duty in Polk, Barron, and Langlade Counties, Aug. 2. The event, held at The American Legion Post 98 in Cumberland, Wis., served as a Morale, Welfare and Recreation function for the Wisconsin National Guard members continuing to assist with debris removal efforts following the severe weather that swept through Northern Wisconsin July 19-20. (112th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment photo by Staff Sgt. Alexandria Hughes)

Harry Bauer, 10th District commander for The American Legion, Department of Wisconsin, is a retired Air Force Reservist. “I served 36 years, eight months, and six days,” he said. “Not that I was counting.”

Bauer, who serves out of Post 77 in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin, felt the event was a way to “pay it forward.”

sm190802-Z-DA841-0128Wisconsin National Guard Soldiers and Airmen enjoy a Morale, Welfare and Recreation dinner hosted at American Legion Post 98 in Cumberland, Wis., Aug. 2. Volunteers and American Legion members came together in just a few days to provide a hearty meal for the Soldiers and Airmen serving on state active duty in Polk, Barron, and Langlade Counties in the aftermath of the severe weather that struck Northern Wisconsin July 19-20. (112th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment photo by Sgt. Alice Ripberger)

“I’m returning the favor that was done for me,” Bauer said. “The American Legion is about taking care of veterans, but that also includes the Guard, the Reserves, even their dependents if needed. It’s about the total force concept. A function like this is good for morale. They are our brothers and sisters — Soldiers, Airmen, Sailors, whoever they may be. They may not want recognition, but a pat on the back and a nice warm meal goes a long way.”

sm190802-Z-AX240-0177Steven DuBois, Commander of American Legion Post 278 in Balsam Lake, helps serve a dinner hosted by The American Legion for the Soldiers and Airmen serving on state active duty in Polk, Barron, and Langlade Counties, Aug. 2. The event, held at The American Legion Post 98 in Cumberland, Wis., served as a Morale, Welfare and Recreation function for the Wisconsin National Guard members continuing to assist with debris removal efforts following the severe weather that swept through Northern Wisconsin July 19-20. (112th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment photo by Staff Sgt. Alexandria Hughes)

The Soldiers and Airmen shared a meal of barbecued ribs, bratwurst, baked beans, potato salad, coleslaw, watermelon, and plenty of desserts with the volunteers. Laughter and thank-yous filled the dining hall before the Guardsmen departed to prepare for another day, ready to stay on site for as long as assistance is needed.

Serving on state active duty and assisting civil authorities during times of emergency is one of the National Guard’s core missions. Approximately 30 Soldiers mobilized July 22 to distribute water to local residents in Langlade County. That mission concluded July 24 before approximately 100 additional Soldiers and Airmen mobilized to assist communities in Polk, Barron, and Langlade counties with debris removal efforts. The debris removal mission in Langlade County concluded Aug. 2 and those personnel are now assisting with removal efforts in Barron County.

 


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