Tuesday, January 11, 2022 11:07 PM
SYRACUSE – Members of the American Legion from Milford, Syracuse and North Webster attended the Wawasee School Board meeting on Tuesday to support Dave Baumgartner’s request to name the Wawasee football field for the Medal of Honor recipient of World War II, Harry J. Michael.
Michael graduated from Milford High School and went to Purdue University. He was a tri-sport athlete in high school, earning varsity letters in basketball, track and field, and baseball.
A platoon leader, he single-handedly captured two German machine gun emplacement, according to the information provided. In two isolated missions, he killed two, wounded four and captured 13 Germans. Later that day he led his platoon in a frontal assault on enemy pillboxes. They killed 10 and captured 30 German soldiers of the SS Mountain Division. The next day, while hunting German snipers, Michael was fatally wounded the day after his 23rd birthday. For his action, Michael received the Medal of Honor on February 13, 1946.
Baumgartner, who graduated from Wawasee High School in 1971, said that although he did not live in the Wawasee school district, he spoke there for “a number of American Legions from North Webster, Syracuse and Milford”.
Last October, he reminded the board, he came before them about the possibility of naming the football pitch after Michael.
“One of the clients asked me if, in fact, the Council had a vehicle to do this. While researching, I discovered that the school board had a policy,” Baumgartner said.
A copy of the policy states that “from time to time, the school board may wish to commemorate a school or corporate facility (gymnasium, swimming pool, sports field, etc.) by means of a plaque, naming the facility after a person or another honour. Such commemoration should be reserved only for persons who have made a significant contribution to the betterment of education in general or society in particular or to the welfare of the society, community, state or society. the nation. Any Company employee so honored must be deceased or no longer employed by the Company before the Board of Directors selects their name for the memorial honor. »
Baumgartner said, “We have an incredible opportunity here to work together as a community – all three communities – to establish a sanctuary for this Medal of Honor winner who defines the term ‘Warrior’.”
He said that if the football field is named after Michael, teachers could tell Michael’s story to their students and Michael’s name could be mentioned whenever an announcer mentions the field during a game, or when a sportscaster talks about the pitch on air or a journalist writes about it.
“It is very popular to say that we never want to forget. We have an opportunity, as communities here, to come together and permanently put the name of Harry J. Michael, Medal of Honor winner, not only for this generation, but for generations to come. We have a way and an opportunity to do that and cement it in people’s minds, not just for this generation, but for generations to come,” Baumgartner said.
He said it was an incredible opportunity for the communities of Wawasee at a time when “we desperately need heroes”. He also had petitions signed by members of the various Legions, which he presented to the Council.
Baumgartner thanked Legions, Kosciusko County Veterans Services Officer Darryl McDowell and Sheriff Kyle Dukes for their support of the issue.
Rich Rhodes, Michael’s nephew, who lives west of Milford on the same farm where Michael grew up, read an article about Michael, a Harry S. Truman quote about Michael and several lines from one of the last letters of Michael. Rhodes encouraged the Council to vote to name the football field in honor of Michael.
Keith Ousley, commander of the American Legion in Milford, told the council he wanted to make it clear that Legion members there had not made a show of force.
“From what I understand, nothing in Wawasee is named after anyone. Is that correct?” Ousley asked, and was told yes. “So I just want you to know that, on behalf of the Milford Legion and probably the rest of everyone here, whatever you decide to going forward, I’ll respect that.”
He asked Council to consider naming the football field after Michael.
Ricky Beaver, who identified himself as a ‘wounded warrior’, told the council: ‘We have to give credit to this guy. He’s been through a lot. He said Michael had sacrificed everything he had for this country and “we must stand with him and honor him with all the other soldiers.”
Council chairman Don Bokhart said the council was not taking the decision lightly. He said they had many, many discussions about it.
He told Baumgartner: “Consistent with your idea that this is a type of community involvement, I think it might be a good idea to form a group, working in conjunction with our superintendent, Dr ( Steve) Troyer, because he makes recommendations to the Board and then the Board approves those recommendations or does not approve them.
Bokhart said that would be the next step, and Baumgartner said it would be great and he would be honored to be part of this group.
In other cases, counsel:
• I heard about the possibility of removing the personal finance course as a requirement for high school graduation and discussed it, but the board members were not entirely in favor of doing so .
• Reorganized, with Don Bokhart as president; Mike Wilson as Vice President; Rebecca Linnemeier as secretary; Tammy Hutchinson, Administrative Assistant to the Superintendent, as Recording Secretary; and James Flecker as Council Counsel.
Meetings for 2022 will generally begin at 5:30 p.m. in Warrior Hall at Wawasee High School on the second Tuesday of each month, except April when it will be the third Tuesday of the month.
The board allowance is $2,000 plus $112 per regular meeting and $62 per special session, paid quarterly and capped at $6,000 in total.
The Treasurer and Assistant Treasurer of the School Corporation are Director of Finance and Legal Services James Flecker and Rachael Moore.
• Was presented with the proposed calendar for the 2022-23 school year. The first teacher’s day would be August 8, with the first student’s day on August 10. Fall vacation, if it lasts a full week, would be October 17-21. The last student day for winter break would be December 22, with a flexible day for teachers on December 23. Spring break would be April 3-7, 2023 and the last student day would be May 26, 2023. The last teacher day would be May 30. Graduation would be June 4.
An online survey can be found on the Wawasee School Corporation website.
• I heard a report from WHS Director Geoff Walmer and some of his staff about the many good things happening in high school.
• Held a finance committee meeting prior to the regular meeting. During this meeting, Rob Fisher was re-elected President and Andy Cripe was elected Secretary.
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