NEBRASKA CITY – On its first day in Nebraska, Honor and Remember’s Run for the Fallen spoke out loud the names of 133 fallen heroes during the War on Terror and concluded at Nebraska City Wednesday with special recognition of D-Day and World War II casualties.
Mayor Bryan Bequette recognized three World War II Gold Star Families.
Those recognized were the families of Cpt. Chaplain Fr. Joseph Venderheiden, private Paul Baltensperger and private Norbert Wenzl.
Bruce Stanley, grand knight of the Nebraska City Knights of Columbus, was there to receive the flag on behalf of Fr. Venderheiden. He was captured by Imperial Japan and was held prisoner for at least 989 days, one of the longest durations of captivity on record.
Fr. Venderheiden died as a prisoner and is buried at the Manila American Cemetery in the Philippines.
Walt and Rita Wenzl received the flag on behalf of Walt’s brother, Norbert.
He was serving in the Blackhawk division as a military interpreter in the Ruhr Pocket Battle in Germany when he was reported missing on April 14, 1945. His family later learned he had been killed with his vehicle hit a landmine. He is buried at St. Mary’s Cemetery in Nebraska City.
Tim and John Crook received the flag for their uncle Paul Baltensperger.
Baltensperger served with the 35th Infantry division, 134th infant regiment, with the Nebraska National Guard regiment.
His regiment mustered at the Memorial Building and departed England on D-Day arriving at Omaha Beach.
The regiment joined hedgerow to hedgerow fighting to take St. Lo, which U.S. forces did on July 18th.
As part of this fighting, Private Baltensperger was killed July 28, 1944.
He is buried at Normandy American Cemetery in Colleville-sur-Mer, France.
Mayor Bequette urged Americans to always hold in high esteem those who serve our nation.