By Cara Pattison
Feelings of patriotism and military pride flew as high as the American flag at the Yukon Salutes Veterans Main Street event on Saturday.
Headquartered at the American Legion Post 160, 1012 W. Main Street., the day was held to kick-off a month-long celebration of area veterans and officially open the new Yukon Veteran’s Museum.
Organized by City of Yukon Main Street Director, Vicki Davis, the day was well-represented by various branches of the U.S. Armed Forces.
“Today, we are going to recognize 40 veteran members of our armed forces who represented nearly 400 years of service,” Davis said. “We have Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and various National Guard and Reserve units. Right here, today, we have individuals that served tours in World War II, the Korean Conflict, Vietnam, and the Global War on Terrorism. It warms our hearts to honor those who protected and served our country today.”
Mayor Shelli Selby kicked off the event with a City of Yukon Proclamation declaring Oct. 11 – Nov. 11 as Veteran’s Appreciation Month.
After the 40 veterans’ names, branch of enlistment, and years of service were recognized, the Yukon Chamber of Commerce held their ribbon-cutting ceremony to officially open the doors to the Yukon Veteran’s Museum in the American Legion 160 Post.
Guest celebrities attending the salute were Battlin’ Betties representatives Jessica Fowler and Megan Fox, who were dressed up as 1940s pinups.
“We work with veterans and first responders, as well as their families, to restore patriotism and bring awareness to issues like post-traumatic stress disorder and suicide prevention,” Fowler said.
After the formal ceremony ended, the crowd mingled and gave sentiment to those with military service inside the newly-opened museum.
“The museum shows vast eras represented. It’s been humbling to hear veterans’ and families’ stories and sacrifices,” Cacini said. “Those sacrifices are real, and this museum helps us remember the people.”
Post Commander Eddie “Mac” McFadden stated that the museum was moved from the “old Central Elementary building, where the Yukon Public Schools Administration Building currently resides.”
After a tour of the museum, family members Kennita Shelton, Pauline Jackson, Ashley Jackson, and three year-old Phinnean Jackson said they were at the event to honor their deceased loved one, Kenneth Jackson.
“My grandpa served in the Army,” Ashley Jackson said. “We are so pleased to have him and the 39 other veterans recognized today, and for the next month, with the flags bearing their names on Main Street. Not a lot of communities honor their veterans like this and we are thankful.”
Meanwhile, Jeff Davis showed his two year-old grandson, William, a replica of the uniform he wore in the Army almost 20 years ago, which was on display in the museum.
“My kids saw me in this uniform, but my grand kids have not,” Davis said. “They’ve only seen photographs and toys. It’s special to share this with them. This is not just a surplus area, this museum is a piece of someone’s story, and it has a personal connection to anyone who is an American.”
In a far corner of the museum, US Army SFC Ret. Micheal Schlageter and US Army SFC Judy Schlageter looked at her vintage uniform on display.
“We were one of the first – if not the first – couples in the active duty Oklahoma Army that were allowed to marry while in the service. I’m happy to have my old uniform on display here at the Yukon Veteran’s Museum for others to see.”
The 40 veterans recognized for their service at the Yukon Salutes event included: Robert Crane-Marine Corps (1972-1978), Tom Thomas-Air Force (1970-1976), Richard Cacini-Army (1968-2012), Thomas Hoover-Marine Corps (1996-2004), Kenneth Newman-Army (1968-1973), Kyle Card-Marine Corps (2008-2012), Braidon Bray-Air Force (2020-Present), Corbyn Duke-Army (2005-Present), N.L. “Pritch” Pritchard-Army & Army Air Corps (1944-1950), J.C. Bryan-Army (1942-1951), Bill Casper-Army (1942-1945), Bob Keasler-Navy (1943-1946), Bob Horick-Navy (1983-1993), Jimmie Leatherwood-Navy (1970-1974), Stephen Liszeski-Army (2014-2020), Jerry Icenhower-Air Force (1966-1970), Charles Herring-Air Force (1942-1966), Abrianna Fuentes-Oklahoma Army National Guard (2013-Present), Andrew Parker-Navy (2010-Present), Glen Smith-Air Force (1968-1980), John Segress-Army National Guard (1948-1991), Carlos Schwarz-Navy (1944-1946), Chad Young-Navy (1995-2017), Robin Cunningham-Navy (1995-Present), Jerry Walpole-Marine Corps (1967-1972), Michael Geers-Marine Corps (1967-1971), Ken Bryant-Marine Corps (1985-2010), Dewey Farrington-Navy (1957-1960), Michael Kissner-Army (1995-Present), Roger Kissner-Army (1969-1973), Kenneth Jackson-Army (1951-1956), Jeanette Walpole-Navy (1967-1970), Eddie “Mac” McFadden-Marine Corps (1966-1970), Calvin Kolar-Navy (1942-1946), Kevin Carroll-Navy (2001-2009), Curtis Clark-Marine Corps (1968-1971), Harvey “Hank” Baker, Jr.-Oklahoma Air National Guard (1985-1989), Jeffrey Davis-Army (1979-2002), and Kenneth Austin-Navy (1943-1945). Additionally, the Oklahoma Military Hall of Fame, established in 1999, was recognized.