Memorial Day in the Pratt area will feature a special guest at the Iuka Memorial Day program, presentations at various cemeteries and the traditional service at the B-29 Memorial at Pratt Regional Airport with a possible phone conversation with active duty Pratt Army National Guardsman Sgt. First Class John McGraw currently stationed Djibouti, Africa.


Memorial Day in the Pratt area will feature a special guest at the Iuka Memorial Day program, presentations at various cemeteries and the traditional service at the B-29 Memorial at Pratt Regional Airport with a possible phone conversation with active duty Pratt Army National Guardsman Sgt. First Class John McGraw currently stationed Djibouti, Africa.

For 127 years Iuka has held a Memorial Day Program. This year the service will start at 10 a.m. at the Iuka United Methodist Church with a short ceremony at the Iuka Cemetery about 11:15 a.m.

The guest speaker at the Iuka event is Larry Hatteberg of KAKE TV and known for his series “Hatteberg’s People” the longest running television feature in Kansas.

“We are excited to have a speaker with this unique perspective on the values and strengths of rural Kansans,” said Marjorie Buck, an event coordinator.

Iuka’s Decoration Day observance was started by Mark Updegraff Grand Army of the Republic Post No. 358 and has been carried on by the Iuka Memorial Association.

The service is non-denominational and starts with a roll call of the dead, based on a Civil War custom of reading a soldiers name twice and if they did not answer a drum roll would signify presumed dead.

The same is done for Iuka deceased veterans with a flag for each veteran placed in a fan shaped stand. The Gettysburg Address is read and the choir sings patriotic music along with solos from Jason Reed of Hutchinson.

The ceremony concludes at the cemetery at approximately with music, a placement of flowers at the Civil War Veterans Monuments, a salute to the dead and taps. The event will conclude with a community picnic at the Iuka Fire Station.

The Greenlawn Cemetery will have two brief events starting with the Catholic Church Blessing at 9 a.m. and a brief address from Lt. Col. David Schmidt at 10 a.m.

Activities will continue in the afternoon with services at the B-29 All Veterans Memorial at the Pratt Regional Airport.

Ceremonies will start at 2 p.m. with the arrival of a contingent of the American Legion Riders. The Pratt Army National Guard 1-161st Forward Support Company will present the colors followed by the Flag Salute led by Master of Ceremonies Jack Ewing, said Dave Stitt, vice president of the B-29 Museum Inc.

Leonard and Marina Pohl will present the musical portions of the program starting with the National Anthem followed by an Invocation led by Lt. Col. Dave Schmidt.

Jack McCawley will present the welcome and introduce Mayor Jeff Taylor.

Retired Command Sgt. Major George Stevens will present the first key speaker, Master Sgt. Terence Gosha.

Plans are underway for Stevens to have a phone conversation with Sgt. First Class John McGraw who is currently stationed with the Pratt Army National Guard 1-161st Support Group in Djibouti, Africa, Stitt said.

It is uncertain if the connection can be made but the effort will be made to contact McGraw for special communication from the other side of the world.

Stevens will present the family of the late Bud Simmons with a certificate of appreciation for has dedication and hours of service to the development of the B-29 Memorial and museum, Stitt said. 

After the presentation the Pohls will present a selection of patriotic music.

The final speaker of the day is Dennis McKinney, Kansas Racing and Gaming Commissioner.

The festivities will conclude with the Retrieval of Colors and the departure of the Legion Riders.