U.S. Army Maj. (ret.) Ed Pulido, a combat veteran who lost his leg in combat overseas, inspired an appreciative audience Oct. 14 during the Yukon Veterans Museum’s eighth anniversary gala.
This was a patriotic night to remember for many veterans and their families to highlight “Veterans Appreciation Month” being observed Oct. 11 through Nov. 11 in the City of Yukon.
About 120 people attended the annual celebratory banquet, which raised funds to cover the Yukon Veterans Museum’s operations.
“Due to sponsorships, we were able to pay the bills for another year,” Yukon Veterans Museum founder/curator Rick Cacini said. “We appreciate all that everyone has done.”
Lt. Col. (ret.) Cacini kicked off the Thursday night gala with a welcome of everyone who gathered for the festivities inside the Dale Robertson Center, 1200 Lakeshore.
Then, a local Boy Scout troop set the tone for the night when they posted the colors and led the Pledge of Allegiance. An invocation followed, presented by Rev. John Metzinger.
A touching “Salute to Our Fallen Comrades” spoken by Yukon Veterans Museum board member Ron Edmonson described the empty, formally set table at the front of the room which was prepared in tribute to those soldiers who lost their lives.
Former Yukon Mayor Larry Taylor followed up the touching moment by playing “Taps” on the trumpet.
The annual Yukon Veterans Museum gala featured a silent auction of tasty sweets, catered dinner by Bob Beam LLC, live music by Rick Sondag of the Mystery Dates band, and 50/50 cash raffle.
During his post-dinner toast to the branches of services present at the gala, Yukon Veterans Museum board member Jerry Icenhower recognized the United States flag, the Commander-in-Chief, Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, Space Force, Coast Guard, comrades killed in action or missing in action or prisoners of war, and to the U.S.A.
Keynote speaker Maj. Pulido inspired the audience with his heartfelt speech. He told the patriotic crowd about his combat service and philanthropy work.
For his heroism and valor, Maj. Pulido was awarded the Bronze Star with Valor, Purple Heart, Meritorious Service Medal, and Joint Service Commendation and Achievement medals.
He is founder and CEO of the “Heart of Lion” John Daly – Major Ed Foundation, which provides mental, physical and wellness support to the nation’s children and U.S. military veterans.
After the inspiring keynote speaker, Yukon Veterans Museum board member Jenny Crane pulled out a number from the hopper to announce the lucky winner of a 50/50 raffle.
Yukon Assistant to the City Manager Jason Beal won $250 in the raffle, then promptly donated his winnings back to the museum.
“That was the second straight year the 50/50 raffle winner donated it back to us,” Crane said.
A very thankful Frank Yanda was presented a handmade quilt by the Fort Reno Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) honoring his U.S. Army service. He served four years in Germany, two years on the U.S. east coast, and went on a special United Nations assignment in Africa.
Lt. Col. (ret.) Cacini joined Pulido for a ceremonial “cutting of the cake” with a military sword. Afterwards, the gala attendees enjoyed the specially cut treat.
After the cake was eaten and the colors retired, the crowd shared military stories with such special guests at U.S. Air Force Maj. (ret.) Jay Steagall, the State House District 43 representative from Yukon; Maj. Pulido and each other.
The Yukon Veterans Museum is housed at 1012 W Main inside the American Legion Post 160 building. Displays feature battlefield gear, historic photographs, newspaper and magazine clippings, flags, uniforms, helmets, weapons, military documents, and much more.
The museum’s regular hours are 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday, but appointments outside those hours are available.
For tours or more information, call (405) 517-1901, (405) 314-5791 or (405) 514-6794.
This report was written by staff writer Conrad Dudderar and contributing writer Cara Pattison.