I was honored when a dear friend, Janis Doleschal asked me to emcee the 4th annual Armed Forces Challenge. She’s the director of the event that took place at Pewaukee Lake Beach on Saturday, May 21. The experience was thrilling and inspiring.
Teams of four, composed of service members from all branches of service, compete in six endurance-testing events. All funds raised at this year’s event support the Military and Veterans Resource Center (MAVRC) at UW-Milwaukee and Camp Hometown Heroes.
The day began early in the morning with the National Anthem and the Presentation of the Colors. Then the parade of participants.
Members of the Greater Milwaukee Fire and Police Pipes and Drums band at the start he start of the Armed Forces Challenge in Pewaukee.
Leading the parade was the Guest of Honor, Major David Godwin, USMC.
Major Godwin enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1993 where he was assigned as an infantryman to 1st Battalion, 4th Marines. As a scout sniper team leader, Major Godwin deployed to the Persian Gulf in 1996. During the deployment, Major Godwin was involved in security operations along the Iraqi border to deter a possible infiltration into Kuwait.
In February 2004, Major Godwin was deployed for seven months to Afghanistan, in support of Operation ENDURING FREEDOM. In March 2005, with only five months back in the states, Major Godwin deployed to Al Fallujah, Iraq in support of Operation IRAQI FREEDOM.
Upon completion of Expeditionary Warfare School in 2010, Major Godwin was assigned to 1st Battalion, 1st Marines. As the Commanding Officer for Company B, Major Godwin prepared his Marines and Sailors for a western Pacific deployment to Central Command Area or Responsibility (CENTCOM AOR) with the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit. During deployment, his company executed four major Theater Security Cooperation exercises in Oman, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Kuwait. Upon returning to Camp Pendleton, Major Godwin was selected to be the Battalion Operations Officer for 1st Battalion, 1st Marines.
From June to September 2012, Major Godwin deployed with the battalion to Kajaki District, Helmand Province, Afghanistan in support of Operation ENDURING FREEDOM. Upon returning to Camp Pendleton, Major Godwin received orders to be the Commanding Officer of United States Marine Corps Recruiting Station Milwaukee, which is his current billet.
Major David Godwin is the highest ranking active duty Marine in the state of Wisconsin.
Next, the building of the Battlefield Cross, a symbolic replacement of a cross or marker appropriate to an individual service member that has fallen while serving their country. It is made up of the soldier’s rifle stuck into the ground or the soldiers boots, with the helmet on top. Dog tags are sometimes placed on the rifle and the boots of the fallen can be placed next to the rifle. The purpose is to show honor and respect for the fallen at the battle site. The practice started around the time of the American Civil War as a means of identifying the bodies on the battleground before they were removed.
Today, it is an immediate means of showing respect for the fallen among the living members of the troop. It might be seen in the field or base camp after the battle in Afghanistan or Iraq. Used less today as a means to identify the fallen but more as a private ceremony among those still living as a way to mourn, as attending the funeral is not always possible for the soldiers still in the fight.
Retired Marine Corps Captain William Anderson of West Allis salutes the Fallen Soldier Battle Cross. Anderson designed the Armed Forces Challenge event.
A moment of silence was held for two fallen soldiers.
Susumu (Sus) Musashi, WWII US Army Veteran
Field Commissioned 2nd Lieutenant
Passed away on March 27, 2016 at the age of 98 while at the WDVA Veterans Home in Union Grove, Wisconsin.
Sus was a member of E Company of the renowned 442nd Infantry Regiment and served his under friend, the late Senator Daniel Inouye.
Battlefield Citations and Medals
Silver Star: For providing medical attention to his Lt. (Daniel Inouye) and reporting the location of a Panzer tank ambush. Sus radio guided US Artillery fire to the ambush location neutralizing the enemy threat. Sus’s heroics efforts came immediately after he was shell shocked by German tree-burst artillery during a battle near Bruyeres, France.
Additional Awards Included
(2) Bronze Stars
(1) Purple Heart
2011 – Congressional Gold Medal
2014 The French Legion of Honor
Prior to serving his country, Sus was imprisoned in a Japanese-American Internment Camp in California.
Jeremy DeMint was a firefighter who died unexpectedly on March 22, 2016. A native of Racine, WI, Marine Corporal DeMint served his country as an Infantry Machine Gunner for two tours in Afghanistan. After ending his service in 2015, Jeremy began working as a fire fighter and paramedic. He recently graduated from MATC with an Associates Degree as a Fire Protection Technician and received his paramedic certification from WCTC.
Now it was time for the games to officially begin!
Tavian Stewart of team Rufus King Generals competes in the tire flipping competition.
Melissa Janson of team Greenfield Fire Department competes in the sniper crawl.
The assault paddle craft competition.
Other events included a relay obstacle course, humvee push, and a grueling tug-o-war.
The competition was intense, impressive, and friendly. And all for an incredibly worthy cause.
What a great day! I’m grateful for the opportunity to be involved.
If you missed it you can still donate. The Armed Forces Challenge is a 501 (c) (3) organization and does not provide any goods or services in exchange for your donation. Donations are tax deductible.
UPDATE: The 2017 event is now scheduled for Saturday, May 20.