Events to support local troops planned for this weekend
This Saturday, Jackson County and area residents will have two opportunities to support the men and women, past and present, of America’s military.
Starting at 4 p.m., Circleville Christian Church will host a fund-raising dinner for the Honor Flight program at Jackson Heights High School, featuring a presentation from former Jackson Heights superintendent Paul Becker on a recent trip to Normandy. Free-will donations will be accepted for the dinner.
Then, at 6:30 p.m., Holton High School will host the sixth-annual USO Tribute Show in the HHS auditorium. Local and regional performers will be featured in the United Service Organizations-affiliated concert, and members of the military past and present will be honored during the show.
The Honor Flight benefit aims to help continue Jackson Heights’ program that enables World War II veterans to travel to Washington, D.C., to visit the World War II Memorial and other sites of interest to veterans, including the Korean and Vietnam war memorials and the Iwo Jima memorial. The school started its branch of the national Honor Flight program in 2009.
Becker, who served as Heights’ superintendent from 2006 to 2011, was instrumental in getting the Honor Flight program started at Jackson Heights, along with the help of World War II veterans Claude Rieschick and the late Francis Turley. The program’s first flight occurred in the spring of 2009, and four more Honor Flights have been held since then.
Becker’s recent trip to Normandy, France, site of the “D-Day” landings that changed the course of World War II, and its historic sites will be the focus of a presentation following the afternoon dinner. The event had originally been scheduled for Feb. 21 but was postponed due to the threat of severe winter weather.
In the Honor Flight program, veterans are transported by air to D.C. at no cost, along with student “guardians,” medical personnel and other school representatives. Jackson Heights’ program is funded entirely through donations and is not subsidized by the school district, it was noted.
Saturday evening’s USO Tribute was first organized in 2009 at Holton High School by vocal music director Randall Bond, who has overseen the program since then. Response to the show — particularly from several in the Holton community who had family and friends that were currently serving in or were veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces — prompted its continuation, it was reported.
This year’s show is expected to feature several who have participated in previous USO Tribute shows, including All Four One, the Southern gospel quartet from Topeka that features Bond; the Notables singing group from HHS; and Wichita-based soprano Julianne Richardson, whose a capella performances have garnered standing ovations from audiences in previous years. The Studio 1 Dancers also are slated to perform, it was reported.
The suggested donation for the concert is $5, but as in previous years, past and present members of the military are not expected to pay to see the show. Funds raised through admissions will go to benefit the USO.
For more information, contact Bond at HHS by calling 364-2181, or at HMS by calling 364-2441.