GOLDEN SHORES – On Saturday, November 11, hundreds joined the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post #6306 to honor the thousands of active military and veterans and their families for all their sacrifices that affect each and every one of us while they protect our country.

The ceremony began with Posting of the Colors and opening prayer, followed by the traditional laying of the wreath.  Topock Elementary students were in attendance to present their artwork on patriotism and veterans.  Winners from each grade were announced and the overall best entry was announced and will be printed on t-shirts.  All students received certificates.  The ceremony proceeded into Folding of the Flag, with the reading of “The Meaning of the 13 Folds”.

Also during the ceremony, Commander Lynch recognized the VFW’s very own “Chief” Jerry Wold saying, “Jerry is a great guy and an asset to our Post. We honor him today for his many years of service. He has a few colorful stories of his time in the military and encourage you to stop by and talk to him.”

Wold is 86 years young and entered the United States Navy at 17, after his mother agreed to sign for him. Wold chose the Navy for “3 slops and a flop” ha! Wold served 20 years in the military and has been all over the globe. His best times were in Washington D.C. and Norway. Wold was gone so much during his career, which was very hard on his wife Jo, who was left to raise their three children. Wold reflecting, “When I finally would come home, my 2-year-old son would refer to me as ‘that man’.”

When asked how his military service influenced his feelings about war, Wold simply stated, “nobody likes war.”  His advice to any young people serving, “just do what they say.” Wold has countless stories of his time in the service, and the friendships made along the way, but the one thing that matters: “I was proud and am still proud of serving in the military.”

Wold is one of the oldest VFW Post members in Golden Shores, while Wyatt Zercher is one of the youngest at 19 years old! The juxtaposition between the two is separated by three generations of change and yet the same loyalty in serving their country.

Zercher who grew up locally in town, also signed up at 17 years old. Zercher is serving in the United States Army and is currently overseas in Hogenfels Germany – same place where Elvis Presley was stationed. Zercher’s mother, Dusty Zercher, who also lives in Golden Shores, attended the VFW’s Veterans Day ceremony and was recognized on her son’s behalf.

Commander Lynch said, “This family has been around our Post since Wyatt was a little boy, and we are just so proud that he decided to join the military, and the Post will pay for his dues as long as he’s in…” Dusty’s tears welled up in her eyes as she reflected on her feelings about her son serving in the military, especially now with the Israel-Hamas War and Russian-Ukranian War. “I never stop crying, that’s the hardest part,” she breathed “but I admire his patriotism.”

Zercher’s training and schooling has prepared him for being a “cavalry scout” doing recon, aka the eyes and ears of the Army. His mom continued, “He already has his airborne wings and just loves the Army. He plans to re-up in 2025 and make Sergeant.”

Unlike Wold who served many moons ago, staying in touch with overseas loved ones is much easier in the twenty-first century than the older generation. Dusty is thankful for phones and email. She notices, “Wyatt is more appreciative now and much more mature!” Must be why the Army’s slogan is, “We make men out of boys!”

Such a proud day for all and definitely heart-warming as Commander Lynch concluded, “I want to thank everyone for attending today, and remember: Thank a Vet!”

Since 1899, the VFW has been the nation’s leading veterans service organization in the fight to better the lives of all those who’ve worn the uniform of the United States Military. It is comprised of 1.5 million members who have served during a foreign war or conflict, and their direct dependents make up the VFW Auxiliary. 

On a local level, Post #6306 is a relatively small Post in a very rural isolated community of Golden Shores with an overwhelmingly large veteran population. The local Post remains very active in supporting veterans and our community and has a pivotal role in the community by serving as a reliable source of information, activity, and social interaction amongst local veterans, often veterans serving veterans across three generations.