“This Was the Homecoming I Never Received”

Those were the words of Gary Wetzel, who we welcomed home today with an escort featuring the South Milwaukee Police and Fire Departments, as well as more than 20 motorcycles from local riding clubs.

More than 200 people cheered the Medal of Honor recipient on as we made our way down 15th Avenue and west on Menomonee to his home, where South Milwaukee veterans, Wetzel family members and workers from Bartelt Remodeling met him as he took his first steps into his newly remodeled house — a place he hadn’t been in months.

It was an amazing tribute, something I’ll never forget, and it took the work of lots of people to make this day happen. I want to specifically call out …

  • The Gary Sinise Founation, which provided all the funds for the renovation of Gary’s home, plus new appliances.
  • Bartelt, The Remodeling Resource. Owner Rick Bartelt and his team renovated Gary’s house at no profit to his company. Danny Paulus was the finish carpenter. Home Depot provided materials.
  • Fisher House Foundation. They provided all the funds to reside at Staybridge Suites-Milwaukee Airport South during the remodeling process.
  • The Milwaukee Zablocki VA Medical Center and Raymond G. Murphy VA Medical Center in Albuquerque, N.M., which provided excellent care from last August, when Gary was in his motorcycle accident, to this spring.
  • Those who were part of the procession: the South Milwaukee Police and Fire Departments, and all of the motorcycle clubs that sent riders.
  • Mara’s Sewing Shop, for providing free flags for the occasion.

You can see Facebook live video of the escort on my mayoral Facebook page. Also, check out coverage in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, WISN and TMJ4. CBS 58 and Fox 6 were also on hand.

Gary, it was an honor honoring you. We thank you for your service, bravery and heroism. All of South Milwaukee is proud. Welcome home.

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