(Dubois, WY) – The seats were full and it was standing room only under the Veterans Pavilion at the National Museum of Military Vehicles on May 28th for the grand opening ceremony. Folks from near and far gathered under the shelter, protected from the pouring rain as prominent Veterans, Wyoming’s Governor, and NMMV representatives graced the stage.
Welcoming attendees was NMMV Executive Director Alynne Catron. She introduced the U.S. Army Recruiters from Casper, who presented the colors. They were accompanied by the Lander Volunteer Fire Department Pipe & Drum Band.
A recording of the “National Anthem” was then played, which was sung by the Riverton High School Jazz Choir. This was followed by the Pledge of Allegience.
The first guest speaker was Governor Mark Gordon, who opened with a prayer. He went on to quote his cousin General George Patton: “If we are to remain a great nation, and as long as we are to remain a great nation, a few of us are called, perhaps by the Almighty, to serve our nation, to serve our country and to serve the ideals of America.”
“There could be no truer statement than that today,” Governor Gordon went on to say. “I ask you to think this weekend about all those who served, their families, and especially remember those like Chance Phelps, who gave everything they had…”
LTG Roger Schultz (Ret) served over 40 years in the Army National Guard and was the next guest speaker. He has received two Distinguished Service Medals, a Silver Star, a Bronze Star, and two Purple Hearts. He is currently the Army Historical Foundation President. Following him was William “Doc” Schmitz the VFW National Commander in Chief for 2019-20. He served in Vietnam as a Navy Corpsman assigned to the Marines.
They both praised the work NMMV Founder and Chairman Dan Starks has done with the museum to honor veterans.
Schmitz presented Starks with the VFW Commander in Chief KA-BAR knife.
Starks concluded the ceremony by expressing that today is not about the museum and that the museum is about two primary big ideas.
“The first big idea is the value of honoring the service and sacrifice of our veterans and their families as well as our active military.” … “The second big idea is about honoring American freedom.”
He also gave special recognition to Tom Gutherie, a WWII veteran, and the family of Chance Phelps, who was KIA.
The rain let up just in time for the ribbon to be cut. Attendees then dispersed to the museum, and to the two special post-ceremony activities – tank rides and shooting range.