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Local veterans come together for day of recognition

Hundreds in Mitchell spent the day honoring local veterans at the Davison County Fairgrounds on Wednesday. American Legion Post 18 organized its annual event recognizing local veterans, providing them with a free meal and celebrating the veteran,...

People who attended the Veterans Day program stand as Chris Miller sings "God Bless the U.S.A." on Wednesday at the Davison County Fairgrounds. (Matt Gade/Republic)
People who attended the Veterans Day program stand as Chris Miller sings "God Bless the U.S.A." on Wednesday at the Davison County Fairgrounds. (Matt Gade/Republic)

Hundreds in Mitchell spent the day honoring local veterans at the Davison County Fairgrounds on Wednesday.

American Legion Post 18 organized its annual event recognizing local veterans, providing them with a free meal and celebrating the veteran, soldiers and auxiliary members of the year.

Hugh Holmes, Post 18's adjutant, served as master of ceremonies at the event that he helped organize. Holmes handed out awards and thanked about 250 people for attending, many of whom were veterans.

"We like to honor the ones that have taken part of their life and have dedicated it to do something that others don't do," Holmes said.

The lunch was free for veterans, but donations were accepted and non-veterans were charged an $8 fee to attend.

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Holmes handed out four awards during the ceremony, including the 2015 Veteran of the Year award given to Mitchell's own Dale Wagner.

Wagner, a U.S. Army veteran, served in the former West Berlin during the Cold War and has spent more than 35 years as a member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2750 in Mitchell. Wagner was recognized for his service on the color guard and handling of most of his post's financial purchases.

Wagner was happy to receive the award for his lifetime of service.

"I think it's one of the greatest things you can do, to go and serve your country," Wagner said.

Two of his fellow veterans, Specialist Jacob Richardson, of Gann Valley, and Sgt. First Class Eric Miller, of Mitchell, were awarded 2015 Soldier of the Year at Wednesday's luncheon.

Richardson enlisted in the South Dakota Air National Guard in 2007 and has served since, eventually going on to receive an Army Achievement Medal.

Miller is a 30-year active serviceman currently working with the Combined Support Maintenance Shop in Mitchell as a senior electronics mechanic. Before coming to Mitchell, Miller spent time in the Marine Corps in San Diego, Calif., and Okinawa, Japan, before serving in Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm in Saudi Arabia.

The fourth award went to Mitchell resident Judy Vogel for going above normal duties as a volunteer in the region. Vogel volunteers as a auxiliary adjutant for Disabled American Veterans and serves as treasurer for the DAV Auxiliary. Holmes called her an "exceptional volunteer" who's always ready to give a helping hand.

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The event's guest speaker, Mitchell Technical Institute President Mark Wilson, thanked all of the award winners and veterans in attendance for their service.

"It is because of you folks that we live in the great country we do and we have freedom and peace, so thank you," said Wilson.

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