Tuesday, November 15, 2011

View From The Bridge 11/16/2011

“VIEW from the BRIDGE”
By Muncie

It is Monday afternoon, November 14, 2011, and we just returned from Great Falls. It does not concern anyone in Fort Benton but I felt that because we just celebrated Veterans Day, it had a story that I wanted to tell. There is a slight reference to Fort Benton as Matt Patrias (Nancy LaChappell’s husband,) told us about the event last Friday at the Veteran’s dinner and he transported us to Great Falls.

A Corpsman, who is an Associate Member of the Marine Corps League 688, received a Purple Heart. Wally actually inducted him into the League. Senator John Tester presented the award and six other ribbons to Marvin “Doc” Brewster. It was long overdue. Doc had actually received the Purple Heart 50 years ago BUT it was never recorded. Therefore, he did not receive the benefits that were due him. He was wounded in Vietnam.

Doc pursued his benefits when he was diagnosed with lung cancer a few months ago. He is undergoing chemo at Fort Harrison in Helena and radiation in Great Falls. The doctors have determined that his cancer was caused by Agent Orange. This illness was quite a price to pay for his country.

It was a very impressive ceremony and I am sure that a few of you saw some of the proceedings on Channel 3 and Channel 5 Monday evening. It was an honor to be at the V.F.W. in Great Falls with many of Doc’s friends and fellow Marine League members. We wish him a quick recovery and a long prosperous life.

Another reason for writing this story is to spread the word about Veterans Benefits. I have already talked with people who are going to check their records, as they had no idea to what they were entitled. Our Country (we the people,) owes so much to these Veterans. We owe them our lives and all the benefits that we enjoy today. Say thank you to every veteran that you meet. Just that simple phrase, “Thank you for what you have done (or are doing)” means so much.

The Veterans Administration sends a representative to Fort Benton on a regular schedule, (once a month I believe.) Check your River Press, as there is always an article about the visit. If you have any doubt about what you should have received…check it out. Good luck. Be patient because it took Doc 2 ½ years to get what he received today.

I often wonder how far the wreath, that is thrown from the Old Bridge each Memorial Day morning, travels. Does anyone know or does anyone else ever wonder? I called several V.F.W. members and they had asked this question many times. They never had an answer.

Perhaps next year we can find out how swiftly the river is flowing, how far it is to Loma via the river, and estimate the time the wreath would get to the Loma Bridge. Then we have to find a volunteer to take up a watch to see if it gets that far. In the meanwhile, if anyone has ever seen the wreath, fess up. Give me a call…I am in the book.

Again, this Veterans Day, an excellent dinner was put on by the V.F.W. and the American Legion of Fort Benton on Friday evening. They did a tremendous amount of work putting together the dinner, decorations, and servers.

The dinner is quite a tradition now and thoroughly enjoyed by all that attended. It added so much to our community spirit. It is something to look forward to, as there are many old friends in attendance. Of course, there are many new faces and I would like to see the newcomers introduced and a description of their service. It is difficult to talk to more than the people sitting immediately around you. However, no matter what the situation is…they all served their country without hesitation.

The hanging of the photos was completed on Thursday afternoon. I had Chandee Bomgardner and two of her youngsters, Bailey and Jordee as helpmates. They volunteered at Woman’s Club after they had put in a days work making the lunch for the club. If you want a job done ask a busy person and that is Chandee.

We had a problem with not knowing what war the Veterans were involved. We have hung the photos under a sign that signifies all the wars starting with the Civil War. World War II has more photos so far, than any of the others.

If there are any errors…there is a notebook close by on a lamp table. Kindly write what the problem is, sign your name, and phone number. For instance, if the photo is under the wrong war, the name is misspelled, the rank is incorrect, or the photo is not there at all…it will be corrected as soon as possible. However, it may take some time because we will have to accumulate all the corrections before the gold labels can be reprinted.

We have heard some favorable comments about the project and the location of it. The Sunrise Bluffs is open at 8:00 a.m. and the doors are locked at 10:00 p.m. Other locations did not fit the criteria. The Club House is a Sports Bar…not a Vet’s Club. The V.F.W. merely has their meetings there. The Library has meeting room downstairs that has great walls but it is kept locked. It would have been inconvenient to have to unlock the door each time a visitor would like to view the photos. The Sunrise Bluffs seemed the logical place to hang the photos. You will have to go there to view the set-up and leave your comments. It is not inconvenient to visit there and it is a beautiful walk/drive along the Missouri.

We are now working on the bios. They are so informative and so interesting to read. Did you know that Chouteau County drafted twice as many recruits than anywhere else? The reason being, the Draft Board goofed and doubled the number to be drafted. There is proof of draft records at the Overholser Research Center as there is a file on the wars.

I will start listing those photos that have no bios or incomplete ones. Watch for the names and perhaps somewhere…somehow…we can get a connection to that Veteran. Watch your River Press for the list.

I thought I wanted a career. Turns out, I just wanted paychecks.

Well, we cannot deny winter any longer. It is snowing in Fort Benton at this moment Monday evening. We traveled the Highwood way to Great Falls this morning and it was snowing in that area. It ended soon afterward but started again as we reached the V.F.W. on 10th Ave. S. I am not complaining, mind you, just writing it to keep track with View dates and on my calendar. I am going to enjoy this winter because it gives opportunities for great photos of snow weighing down tree branches like a cave. I would not want to miss those snow piles on the east side of Front Street especially the one at the Grand Union parking lot. They look like mountains. I would not want to miss the Missouri freezing over and then watching it thaw out. Awesome winter! Come and go quickly won’t you.