CHIPPEWA FALLS — Henry Geissler stared at the plaque he was given Wednesday morning, which commemorates his service in the U.S. Air Force. Geissler was among several veterans honored at a Veterans Day celebration at the Chippewa Manor Residential Living in Chippewa Falls. The plaque will join more than 100 that line the walls of the home.
“It’s very humbling, to be with all the people who were in the service,” Geissler said as he re-read the words written about him. “We were there to do a job, and I guess we did it.”
Geissler, 87, was born in Chippewa Falls in 1932, graduating from McDonell High School in 1950. He joined the Air Force in April 1951, was sent to Baltimore to work in a research and development headquarters, and he stayed in the service until November 1953. He was never deployed overseas.
“In many ways, I wish I had stayed in service,” Geissler said.
Geissler moved into the Chippewa Manor in May. He was surprised when staff members interviewed him about his military service six years ago to prepare his plaque. Three of his six children joined him for the ceremony Wednesday.
Clayton Jandrt, 85, also was honored during the ceremony. Jandrt grew up on the family farm in the town of Delmar and he graduated from Stanley High School. He joined the Army National Guard in 1957, and stayed through 1963. He was stationed in Missouri for just six months and also was never deployed. Like Geissler, Jandrt was humbled by the praise he received during the ceremony; he had just moved into the manor Sept. 13 and didn’t expect to be honored. He was joined by one of his nieces.
“I thought it was nice,” Jandrt said. “I liked the way they put it on, to honor everybody.”
Brandon Thorsness, Chippewa Manor administrator, was thrilled to have a crowd of 125 people attend their breakfast celebration. The manor started hosting the annual event in 2009, and they purposely hold it in the week leading into Veteran’s Day, so all the veterans who attend other ceremonies on the holiday are free and can relax and enjoy the breakfast.
“It is a considerable effort to go into timing it, to make it a meaningful and poignant event for our veterans,” Thorsness said. “There are a variety of veterans who served and we want them all to have their moment to shine.”
In the 11 years they have held the ceremony, more than 100 veterans have been honored, Thorsness said.
Chippewa Falls Mayor Greg Hoffman spoke at the ceremony, telling the crowd that his son served in the Marines.
“I can appreciate the sacrifices that are made to serve your country,” Hoffman said. “We’re very fortunate to be in a country with such outstanding individuals who were willing to serve.”
The crowd sang along to patriotic-themed songs. The Chippewa Falls Patriotic Council attended the event, performing a gun salute before a plane flyover in the “missing man” formation.
“It’s a somber, moving ritual,” stated a 20-minute video shown during the ceremony. The video highlighted events from the celebrations of the past decade.
Thorsness also presented a check for $500 to the Chippewa Falls Patriotic Council for all their work both at the manor and throughout the community.