Rich Rhodes explains to the Wawasee School Board why they should name the high school soccer field after his uncle, Harry J. Michael. Photo by David Slone, Times-Union.

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 nominate the Wawasee football field as the Medal of Honor recipient of World War II, Harry J. Michael.

Michael graduated from Milford High School and continued his education at Purdue University. He was a three-sports athlete in high school, earning college letters in basketball, track and field, and baseball.

Platoon leader, he single-handedly captured two German machine gun locations, according to information provided. In two solitary 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 injured the day after his 23rd birthday. For his action, Michael received the Medal of Honor on February 13, 1946.

Baumgartner, a 1971 Wawasee High School graduate, 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 appeared before them to eventually name the football field Michael.

“One of the clients asked me if, in fact, the Council had a vehicle to do this. By doing some research, I found out 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 a business facility (gymnasium, swimming pool, sports field, etc.) by means of a plaque, naming the installation after a person or other honor. Such commemoration should be reserved only for persons who have made a significant contribution to the improvement of education in general or of society in particular or to the well-being of society, community, state or society. the nation. Any employee of the company so honored must be deceased or no longer employed by the company before the board of directors selects their name for the commemorative honor.

Baumgartner said: “We have an incredible opportunity here to work together as a community – the three communities – to establish a sanctuary for this Medal of Honor recipient who defines the term ‘warrior’.”

He said 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 sports commentator talks about the pitch on the air or a journalist writes about it.

“It’s very popular to say that we never want to forget. We have the opportunity, as communities here, to come together and permanently publish the name of Medal of Honor recipient Harry J. Michael, not only for this generation, but for generations to come. We have a way and a possibility to do it and to cement it in people’s minds, not, again, 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 board of directors.

Baumgartner thanked the Legions, Kosciusko County Veterans Affairs Officer Darryl McDowell and Sheriff Kyle Dukes for supporting 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 quote from Harry S. Truman about Michael and several lines from one of the last letters by Michael. Rhodes urged the board to vote in favor of naming the football field in honor of Michael.

Keith Ousley, commander of the Milford American Legion, told the board that he wanted to make it clear that the Legion members had not performed a show of force.

“From what I understand, there is nothing in Wawasee that is named after anyone. Is that correct? ”Ousley asked, and he 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 there is. ‘future, I will respect that. “

He asked the board to consider naming the football field after Michael.

Ricky Beaver, who identified himself as a “wounded warrior,” told the Council: “We have to pay tribute to this guy. He’s been through a lot. He said Michael sacrificed everything he had for this country and “we have to stand with him and honor him with all the other soldiers.”

Board chairman Don Bokhart said the board is not making the decision lightly. He said they had had a lot, a lot of talk about it.

He told Baumgartner: “In keeping with your idea that this is a type of community involvement, I think it would be a good idea to go ahead and form a group, working in conjunction with our superintendent, Dr. (Steve) Troyer, because he makes recommendations to Council and Council either approves or disapproves of those recommendations.

Bokhart said it would be the next step, and Baumgartner said it would be great and he would be honored to be a part of this group.

In other cases, the Council:

• Heard of and discuss a consideration to remove the personal finance course as a high school graduation requirement, but Council members were not in favor of doing so completely.

• Reorganized, with Don Bokhart as president; Mike Wilson as vice president; Rebecca Linnemeier as secretary; Tammy Hutchinson, Administrative Assistant to the Superintendent, as Session Secretary; and James Flecker as counsel to the board of directors.

Meetings for 2022 will begin at 5:30 p.m., typically in the Warrior Room at Wawasee High School on the second Tuesday of each month, except April when it will be the third Tuesday of the month.

The allocation of the Board of Directors 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 timetable for the school year 2022-2023. The first day for teachers would be August 8, with the first day for students on August 10. The 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 Flex day teacher on December 23. Spring break would be April 3-7, 2023 and the last student day would be May 26, 2023. The last teaching day would be May 30. The graduation ceremony would be June 4.

An online survey is available on the Wawasee School Corporation website.

• I heard a report from WHS principal Geoff Walmer and a few of his staff about the many good things happening in high school.

• Holding of a finance committee meeting prior to the regular meeting. During this meeting, Rob Fisher was re-elected President and Andy Cripe was elected Secretary.