Hermantown Honors Veterans

148th Fighter Wing Mission Support Group Commander Col. Penny Dieryck poses
with Hermantown Historical Society Chair Sandy Reinke and Co-Chair Bob
Swanson June 23, 2012 in front of the Society's newly dedicated mural in
their military room.  The mural depicts a 148th Fighter Wing F-16 in flight
surrounded by the seals of the U.S armed forces, and was dedicated to the
service of the area's veterans.  (National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Ralph
J. Kapustka.)

148th Fighter Wing Mission Support Group Commander Col. Penny Dieryck poses with Hermantown Historical Society Chair Sandy Reinke and Co-Chair Bob Swanson June 23, 2012 in front of the Society's newly dedicated mural in their military room. The mural depicts a 148th Fighter Wing F-16 in flight surrounded by the seals of the U.S armed forces, and was dedicated to the service of the area's veterans. (National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Ralph J. Kapustka.)

DULUTH, Minn. -- The Hermantown Historical Society dedicated their newly painted military room mural with a ceremony June 23, 2012. The mural, painted by local artist Bryan Olson, depicts an F-16 in flight, surrounded by the seals of the United States armed forces.

According to the Society's Co-Chair Bob Swanson, the mural was designed with four functions in mind: a display of patriotism, an expression of appreciation for all five branches of the armed forces, a way to honor the veterans of the Hermantown community, and to recognize the 148th Fighter Wing.

Swanson said the 148th not only benefits the economy of the Hermantown area, but a large number of Guard members choose to live in Hermantown, sending their children through the Hermantown school system, enriching the community.

"It's the first step in what we want to do," said Hermantown Historical Society Chair Sandy Reinke of the $2,500 project. "It's a statement of what we believe, and a way to show our appreciation."

148th Fighter Wing Mission Support Group Commander Col. Penny Dieryck made a speech in which she thanked the community on behalf of the unit, and explained the impact that the community's continued support has had at the base.

"Our country is free because of our veterans, and the sacrifices they have made," said Dieryck during her speech. "If it wasn't for the community's support, we wouldn't have the block 50."

"For every person that has deployed, there is someone standing beside or behind them," said Dieryck. "You can't fight the war without the help from loved ones back home."

Singer song writer MaryRose Varo performed an original composition titled "Unsung Heroes" for the more than 30 members of the community in attendance. Varo's song spoke of service members fighting and giving their lives for their country despite not being recognized for their sacrifices.

Chief Master Sgt. Gerry Herrington (ret.) spoke as a Veterans' Outreach member, the Co-Chair of the Northland Honor Flight, and as a retired member of the 148th Fighter Wing. Herrington's speech touched on the importance of ensuring veterans receive the benefits available to them, the purpose and goal of the Northland Honor Flights, and concluded with a personal testament to the 148th's legacy of excellence.

"You cannot believe our pride," said Herrington of the 148th launching its first F-16 during the first deployment to Balad Air Force Base, Iraq. "The active duty unit deployed there asked us for help, because we could do it better, we could do it faster, and we could do it smarter."