Congratulations to Navy Hospital Corpsman, 2nd Class Benjamin Lamberty, Marine Lance Corporal Brett C. Hanley, Army Staff Sergeant Kevin Paske, and Coast Guard Reserve Petty Officer 1st Class Casey Miller on their receiving the Richard I. Bong Award for 2020. They are among the individuals within the greater Milwaukee area honored for demonstrating outstanding traits of leadership and professionalism through their contributions to their military unit and to the community.
Navy Hospital Corpsman, 2nd Class Benjamin Lamberty. He serves as Fox Company's Senior Corpsman. As such he provides medical coverage support for more than 150 Marines during training, and ensures the unit's overall health and medical readiness. Additionally he is responsible for the development of four junior Corpsman.
As the RESPAY Liaison and EDM Approver, Lamberty was responsible for ensuring junior Sailors were appropriately scheduled for Fox Company drill weekend and their pay was properly adjudicated following drill. He proactively tracked the NROWS completing for AT orders, which ensured Fox Company had adequate medical support during field training at Ft. McCoy, Wisconsin.
Marine Lance Corporal Brett C. Hanley - His entire time-in-service has been served with Company F, 2d Battalion, 24th Marines, 23d Marine Regiment, 4th Marine Division, Marine Forces Reserve, Milwaukee, WI. Throughout his time with Company F, LCpl Hanley has volunteered to perform at least ten color guard details and static weapons displays, conducted approximately thirty military funeral honors details, and dedicated countless hours assisting the Inspector-Instructor staff in its day-to-day operations.
In addition to serving as a Team Leader and Gunner within the company’s Assault Section, LCpl Hanley is a fully-trained officer candidate--making him the only enlisted Marine within the company to apply for, get selected, and graduate from Officer Candidate School (OCS) in Quantico, VA. With the knowledge and experience gained at OCS, he leads his assault team with tenacity and vigor when put in stressful
situations and does not give up. He has volunteered in support of the annual Toys-for-Tots campaign for three consecutive years; serving thousands of children throughout Milwaukee and Waukesha County.
SSG Kevin S. Paske is a civilian soldier and multi-time combat deployer. He has served in three different combat zones. While serving as the launcher chief in Syria, Paske led his crew away from their remote outpost into further hostile territory during a strategic level operation. While forward deployed, he and his crew fired numerous precision-guided rocket artillery missions in order to deter pro-Assad forces from attacking nearby friendly bases.
In early April 2020, he was ordered into active duty by Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers to assist local polling stations and their election processes. According an unsolicited Letter of Appreciation sent from Mayor Martin T. Becker of the City of Port Washington on 4/10/2020, “the moment of his (SSG Paske’s) arrival at Port Washington City Hall, it was evident his level of professionalism, dedication, intelligence and commitment to his assignment. He served side by side with staff for two very long days, without wavering in his duties.” The appreciation from his local community only confirms what many already know, that Kevin Paske is a heroic American and patriot worthy of recognition.
Coast Guard Reserve Petty Officer 1st Class Casey Miller, pictured here with Captain Donald Montoro, Commander of Coast Guard Station Lake Michigan. Miller is a machine technician with the CGR.
Miller is a mentor and role model to his Junior Coast Guard members and has been recognized by his command for his role in keeping the operational tempo at peak level during the busiest boating season on the Great Lakes. He has integrated with both Active Duty and Reserve members for sustained operational support. His community involvement is outstanding. Miller coached Wrestling from 1998-2015. During that time, he started a volunteer kids club for wrestling that took place after hours to give them a chance to improve their skills while giving them mentoring skills for life. He served as the president of the Burlington Regional Coach's Association, promoting sportsmanship and positive conduct throughout the sport. He's also promoted the S.T.E.M. program to local high schools, giving examples of real-world innovation in use with the engineering field.
Milwaukee Armed Forces Week is proud to honor the following for 2020.
Major Marcus Carlstrom, USMC, Inspector Instructor, Fox Company – (left in uniform) recipient of the 2020 Gary Wetzel Active Service Award, and Capt. Matthew Johnson, USMC, Marine Officer Instructor, (right in uniform), Marquette University, accepting the 2020 Gary Wetzel Active Service Award for Gunnery Sgt. Zachary E. Gay, USMC.
Dr. Tom Buck, (far left), Civilian Chair, Milwaukee Armed Services Committee, and Capt. Tom Plantenberg, (far right), USN (Retired), President of the Milwaukee Armed Services Committee, presented the honors in late May.
The award is named after Gary Wetzel, who was a Private First Class serving as a door gunner in the 173rd Assault Helicopter Company when his helicopter was shot down and the survivors, including Wetzel, came under heavy enemy fire. Despite devastating injuries, Wetzel remained at his position until he had eliminated the threat thereby protecting and saving the lives of his crew and others. Wetzel survived his wounds, although his left arm had to be amputated. He was subsequently promoted to Specialist Four and awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions. This award is presented Monday night at the Armed Forces Week Banquet to members of one of our armed services who have served with valor while currently on active duty. The award may also be give to a person who has been retired for two or fewer years. One posthumous award has been given.
From left to right: Sgt. Cody Wallace, USMC, Sheboygan, Wisconsin
First Sgt. Jorge Cedeno-Tulloch, USMC, Long Island, New York
Dr. Thomas M. Buck, Civilian Chair, Milwaukee Armed Services Committee
Major Marcus Carlstrom, USMC, Inspector Instructor, Fox Company – RECIPIENT OF THE 2020 GARY WETZEL ACTIVE SERVICE AWARD
Capt. Thomas M. Plantenberg, USN (Retired), President of the Milwaukee Armed Services Committee
Capt. Matthew Johnson, USMC, Marine Officer Instructor, Marquette University
Here is this year's message from the Commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps,
During his tenure as President, Harry S. Truman spearheaded an initiative to set aside one day for all Americans to show appreciation for the service and sacrifices of all who have served in our Nation's Armed Forces. On 31 August 1949, Secretary of Defense Louis Johnson fulfilled President Truman's vision by creating Armed Forces Day, a holiday that we now observe on the third Saturday in May each year.
The men and women of our military voluntarily give themselves over to a larger cause, to a greater purpose. Each of us in uniform took an oath to defend our Nation, its principles, and its residents against all who would do it harm - even if it means our own lives are lost in that defense.
Armed Forces Day affords us an opportunity to pause each year and pay tribute to those who put on the uniform of our country, who have borne many a hardship in the service of others, and who gladly defend the American way of life. As each of you pause on Saturday, 16 May, recognize your fellow service member with heartfelt gratitude, camaraderie, and respect. I thank every member of the United States Armed Forces for your professionalism, dedication, and sacrifice.
David H. Berger
U.S. Marine Corps
Commandant of the Marine Corps
During Milwaukee Armed Forces Week May 11-16, 2020, we support our currently serving military.
Today, we honor U.S. Air Force Colonel Andrew T Wahl, 128th Operations Group Commander, 128th Air Refueling Wing, Wisconsin Air National Guard, Milwaukee.
What has been your experience in recent weeks as a member of the military during COVID19?
“Serving in these unprecedented times has only strengthened my commitment to serve and command in the Wisconsin Air National Guard, 128th Air Refueling Wing in Milwaukee. While I never thought about having to serve and perform my duties during a world-wide pandemic, I am proud of my unit and teammates who are serving their communities in State Active Duty status with election day and COVID-19 testing collection support. At the same time, we are continuing to meet our federal mission requirements all over the world.
"This period of time reminds me that I follow in the footsteps of those who served honorably before me, ensuring our freedoms today. I’m sure my grandfather, who fought on the Aleutian Islands and in Europe during World War II, had similar thoughts as I do today: Am I ready to meet this challenge? How long will this fight take? Will my family be okay? As I remember the stories he would tell me, especially how he would lay metal sections on the frozen ground to create a runway in the middle of nowhere, I am reminded that there is no real training that prepares a person to meet times like today. Instead, you rely on the training that you received and those who serve with you to overcome adversity and the unknown. It is that dedication to your fellow Airman, Soldier, Sailor, or Marine that makes serving in the military such a great opportunity for the next generation of young men and women."
Why do you serve and what does it mean to be a member of the U.S. Armed Forces?
"I believe that leadership starts with acknowledging our love and duty to God followed closely by love and duty to our family and country. Integrity will be born from this love and duty. This kind of integrity must be our starting point.
"My thoughts, efforts, and actions will focus on treating others as I would want to be treated. I will listen attentively, seeking understanding, and leverage the experience and talents of others fully. This will help guide our path toward service before self.
"I will always strive to do my best in all that I do and I expect others to do the same. I believe excellence in all we do is having the peace of mind attained only through self-satisfaction in knowing you made the effort to do the best of which you are capable.
"To my fellow countrymen – it is a pleasure to serve you."
Thank you, Colonel Wahl, for your dedication and service in our U.S. Armed Forces.
During Milwaukee Armed Forces Week May 11-16, 2020, we support our currently serving military.
Today, we honor U.S. Coast Guard Captain Tom Stuhlreyer, Commander, Sector Lake Michigan. Captain Stuhlreyer leads 700-plus “Coasties” and directs USCG operations in the four-state area around Lake Michigan.
What is it like to serve in the U.S. Coast Guard in these unprecedented times?
"Like everyone else, we are taking measures to ensure we remain ready to serve our community by wearing appropriate personal protective equipment and staying physically apart when possible.
"However, Sector Lake Michigan’s missions have not changed. Working closely with inter-agency partners and industry stakeholders, we remain focused on maintaining the safety, security, and resilience of the maritime transportation system. It is as important as ever to ensure needed cargo and commodities are reliably transported by water on the Great Lakes and Western Rivers. At the same time, we strive to protect mariners and the marine environment as activity increases with the onset of spring and summer."
Captain Stuhlreyer will be retiring in June 2020. We thank him for his long service and dedication to our U.S. Armed Forces.
During Milwaukee Armed Forces Week May 11-16, 2020, we support our currently serving military.
Today we honor U.S. Marine Corps Major Marcus Carlstrom, the Inspector/Instructor at the USMC Reserve Center in Milwaukee. Carlstrom is assigned to a new position as Operations Officer for Officer Programs at Marine Corps Recruiting Command, Quantico, Virginia, and will manage all commissioning programs within the Marine Corps as of 1 July 2020.
Why would you recommend military service to young men and women thinking about their next steps today?
"My recommendation for military service to young men and women does not come as a one-size-fits-all kind of recommendation. This is because every individual has individual needs and desires, goals and purposes, and skills and interests. That said, what all young men and women can expect to gain from military service are:
Thank you, Major Marcus Carlstrom, for your dedication and service in our U.S. Armed Forces.
Lt. (jg) Jim Partleton, of Mequon, served in the U.S. Coast Guard from 1942 to 1946 and was honorably discharged at the end of WWII. He is among the Lance Sijan honorees for 2019.
Jim served on two ships as a quartermaster and then as communications officer. His first deployment was to the North Atlantic providing weather reports and then engaged in anti-submarine patrols. During the ASW cruise, they attacked a submarine that was presumed sunk. After receiving a commission, Jim transferred to an LST (which he refers to as a “Large Slow Target”) and steamed about 40,000 miles through the Panama Canal to Pearl Harbor, to the Marshall Islands, Guam, the Philippines, Noumea, the capital of New Caledonia in the South Pacific. Jim participated in the landings at Iwo Jima in February 1945 and for the landings at Okinawa in April of 1945. He left the service as a LTjg.
“George Banda isn’t just a hero, he’s a hero’s hero”.
-Oscar F. Castaneda, Char, Latino Veterans Legacy of Valor Foundation
George Banda graduated from Milwaukee Boys Technology and Trade School (Boys Tech) in
1968 and received his draft notice in December. Upon completion of Basic Training at Fort
Campbell, Kentucky, he was ordered to Fort Sam Houston, Texas for Combat Medic school with follow on training at Fort Benning, Georgia for qualification as an Army parachutist. This was followed by additional medical training at Fort Ord, California where he worked at the hospital in post-operative care.
Ordered to Vietnam, George arrived in December 1969 where he served as Combat medic
assigned to E Co, 2/501st Parachute Infantry Regiment (PIR) 101st Airborne Division.
George served with distinction in Vietnam from December 1969 through November 1970
spending almost all of the time conducting small unit missions in the jungle. However,
his most distinguished service may be summed up in two remarkable
April 23, 1970 - Thua Thien-Hue Province
While on a reconnaissance mission in the A Shau valley, Banda’s squad was ambushed by
elements of the North Vietnamese Army (NVA). The soldier on point was wounded and
George ran towards him. While treating his wounded comrade, he was surprised by a
NVA soldier who appeared no more than 15 feet away. The NVA soldier shot at George
but remarkably, he missed. George then returned fire, and after neutralizing the NVA
soldier went back to stabilizing his wounded comrade before dragging him back to his
squad position. At this point another squad member was wounded and he ran toward the
enemy line again to render assistance. Again, he found, treated, and then dragged the
second wounded soldier back to the squad position. Both soldiers were eventually
successfully evacuated. Ironically, due to the nature of this fire fight he found himself
(twice) directly between U.S. and NVA forces. This resulted in his helmet being shot off
by a bullet from behind him. In recognition of his gallantry, George was awarded the Silver
May 6, 1970 - Quang Tri Province
On May 6, 1970, Fire Base Henderson was attacked by NVA in a coordinated operation
on multiple sides simultaneously. At 0500 hours George’s bunker was hit by a Rocket
Propelled Grenade (RPG). This explosion hurled him into the air, leaving him dazed and
partially deaf. In spite of his wounds, he went to work treating the wounded. At one point
he ran into the open to recover a wounded comrade and dragged him back to cover. He
then proceeded to search out other wounded during which time he was shot in the head.
He stopped the flow of blood by fashioning a makeshift dressing out of his shirt and
stuffing it into his head wound. He then proceeded to go back out looking for wounded,
again. Only after all other wounded were evacuated did he acquiesce to being airlifted
out himself. Due to heavy casualties, he was diverted to a Navy/USMC hospital for
treatment. Due to this action, and the fog of war, the Army “lost track” of him. As a result
the Army declared him “Missing in Action”. Eventually he was released from the USMC
hospital and returned to his unit. However, it took two weeks for his family to be notified
that he was in fact not missing and very much alive. In recognition of his actions at Fire
Base Henderson, he was awarded the Bronze Star Medal with Valor Device.
George received the following military awards:
• Combat Medic Badge
• Parachutist Badge
• Silver Star
• Bronze Star Medal with “V” Device and Oak Leaf Cluster
• Purple Heart
• Air Medal
• Army Commendation Medal
• Good Conduct Medal
• National Defense Service Medal
• Vietnam Service Medal
• Vietnam Campaign Medal (issued by Republic of Vietnam)
• Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross with Palm
• LT Darren M. Hidalgo Latino Veteran of the Year Award (2018) from Latino Veterans
Legacy of Valor Foundation (LVLV)
Following his military service, George served as a Firefighter/Emergency Medical Technician
(EMT) for Milwaukee County’s Mitchell International Airport Fire Department (1983 – 2006).
He has continued his service to his community and country through volunteer
service that may be categorized as extensive and significant. George is involved in the
• 101st Airborne Division Association
• Past President, Allied Veterans Council of Milwaukee County
• Past Commander, Military Order of the Purple Heart, Milwaukee County Chapter #818
• Senior Vice-Commander, Military Order of the Purple Heart, State of WI.
• Life Member, American Legion – David Valdez Post #529
• Life Member, Veterans of Foreign Wars
• Member, Wisconsin Vietnam Veterans
• Member, Wisconsin Veterans Museum Advisory Board
• Vice Chairman, Milwaukee County War Memorial Veterans Board
• Member, Milwaukee Veterans Community Relations Team (VCRT) 3
• Member, “Save the Soldiers Home” Campaign Fundraising Committee. During
his service, the committee raised over $40,000,000 for restoration of historic
buildings on the Milwaukee VA campus.
• Founding Member and State Commander (2012 – 2016) American GI Forum of
Wisconsin, an organization focusing on Latino American Veterans issues.
Congratulations to Staff Sgt. Daniel R. Looney and Staff Sgt. Edward B. Wiley, both of the U.S. Marine Corps, for being recognized as the 2019 winners of the Gary Wetzel Award.
Looney's is being awarded for his courageous service under fire in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom, executing over 95 combat patrols. Wiley's honors comes for valor in Operation Iraqi Freedom and service under fire. He received the Purple Heart/Combat Action Ribbon.
Gary Wetzel was a Private First Class serving as a door gunner in the 173rd Assault Helicopter Company in the Vietnam War when his helicopter was shot down and the survivors, including Wetzel, came under heavy enemy fire. Despite devastating injuries, Wetzel remained at his position until he had eliminated the threat thereby protecting and saving the lives of his crew and others.
Wetzel survived his wounds, although his left arm had to be amputated. He was subsequently promoted to Specialist Four and received the Medal of Honor for his actions.
This award will be presented to Looney and Wiley on Monday night, May 13 at the Armed Forces Week Banquet. These brave men are two members of our armed services who have served with valor while currently on active duty.