Memorial Day observance returns | News, Sports, Jobs
NEW ULM – Memorial Day observance has returned to the Soldier’s Rest section of New Ulm Cemetery.
Monday marked the first time in two since Memorial Day 2018 was observed in the cemetery. The 2020 pandemic forced the cancellation of Memorial Day activities and the rain forced 2019 observance inside.
The celebration of Memorial Day 2021 was well attended by the community. This year’s emcee was Larry Kilmer, a Vietnam War veteran and New Ulm High School graduate in 1967.
A retired assistant engineer from the Brown County Highway Department, Kilmer and his wife Linda have six children, 16 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. Members of the Kilmer family served from World War I in Afghanistan.
The celebration featured the recitation of Gavin Keech’s Gettysburg speech. He worked as a marine and motorsport technician for nearly two years before enlisting in the US Air Force to pursue a career as a low-observation aircraft structural maintenance specialist. He plans to design, manufacture and modify unique metals and related materials that create a stealth effect.
The memorial speech was delivered by Gavin’s father, Major Thomas Keech. Keech has flown the MV-22 Osprey tiltrotor aircraft to numerous locations, including four Osprey from Hawaii to Australia in 2017.
A 1993 graduate of New Ulm High School, Keech has won numerous military honors and medals, including an honorary graduate of the Assault Amphibious Crewman, Marine Corps course. Selected as part of the enlisted commissioning program, he underwent flight training and naval aviator wings in June 2005.
After touring several times in support of the Global War on Terrorism, Keech was named the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing Airman of the Year in 2017.
Major Keech thanked everyone for attending the ceremony and reminded them that this holiday was paid for by those who gave their all in the service of the country.
Keech specifically recognized three service friends he has lost over the years. Keech said he started basic training in 1994 and graduated in 1995. At that time, the United States was not involved in conflicts, but that changed after 9/11 and the war on terrorism.
Keech lost his friend Thomas “TJ” Dudley died in 2011 in Afghanistan. He fell from a plane during takeoff as the pilots struggled to escape what they believed to be an impending enemy attack.
In 2012, Keech’s roommate in basic training, Nathan Anderson, a pilot from Huey, was killed in a helicopter crash during a training exercise.
In 2018, Keech lost another friend, Kevin Hermann, during a training exercise off the coast of Japan.
Keech closed his speech by saying that it was great for communities to come together to honor and celebrate those who fought and died for this country.
The Memorial Day celebration ended with a reading of the names of area veterans who died last year. The list includes Florian Altenburg, Charles Biedscheid, Algot Blomquist, Gerry Boyle, Robert Brand, Wil Burdorf, Sylvester Domeier, Teri Doty, Stanley Forst, George Glotzbach, Kenneth Herzog, Roger Hoelz, Darwin Hohenstein, Lawrence Hornig, Denis Iverson, Harvey Janni , Roger Julien, Marvin Kahle, Alfred Klinkner, Thomas Manderfeld, Joseph Platz, Norbert Portner, Richard Roesch, Richard Runck, Gerald Scheibel, Eldor Schulumpberger, Red Spellum, Alan Steinbeisser, Ted Stoltenburg, Lyle Stolze, Leo Sturm, Edwin Sturm, Roger Sturm, Glenn Swanson, Ronald Thompson, Harvey Veit, James Walsh, Roger Weppolo, Leo Wifahrt and Greg Griebel.