Source: Lake Geneva Regional News

July 4 Support Our Troops rally draws 50

by Chris Schultz

July 07, 2011

Elkhorn — About 50 people turned up at the American Legion’s weekly Support Our Troops ceremony on Monday, at the Walworth County Government Center, 100 W. Walworth St., Elkhorn.

Bob Webster Sr., who founded and leads the weekly ceremonies, said he was more than pleased with the turnout, considering it was a holiday. Among those in the audience was Army Pfc. Cody Robinson of Elkhorn. A member of the 101st Airborne Division, Robinson returned from duty in Afghanistan in June. His next posting will be at Ft. Campbell, Ky.

“When I was over there, this organization sent us ‘care’ packages and made life a little easier over there,” Robinson said.

During the ceremony, Robinson took the oath, administered by regional Commander Ron Hessil, and became a member of the American Legion.

Every month, The Support Our Troops organization puts together packages of books, baseball equipment, treats, flags, quilts, cool ties, prepaid cell phone cards and other surprises for troops who have Walworth County connections.

Webster said that so far, the Walworth County American Legion posts have sent 13,091 boxes overseas. That totals about seven tons of stuff, he said.

A total of 369 troops with Walworth County ties have served or are serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. A total of 15 from the area are serving currently in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Webster said July 4 marked the 334th weekly Support Our Troops ceremony. A total of 9,730 visited the Support Our Troops ceremonies over the years, he said.

At the end of the indoor ceremony, participants moved outside to the parking lot, where Christine Jordan, Walworth County Veterans Services coordinator, released four balloons carrying a short biography of Marine Cpl. Michael Larsen, 22, of Spring Valley, Wis., who was killed in Afghanistan on June 27.

Larsen was the third Wisconsin native to die in Afghanistan in June. U.S. Army Pvt. Ryan Larson of Friendship was killed June 15 and Army Spc. Tyler Kreinz of Beloit died June 18.

Every Monday morning since Nov. 29, 2004, the American Legion has held rallies in the Government Center in Elkhorn. Webster originally started the weekly vigil as a 10-week program.

Support Our Troops took on a life of its own, and celebrated its 300th consecutive ceremony on Nov. 8, 2010.