Special dinner and show honors local veterans from all military branches in Pratt

Jennifer Stultz
Pratt Tribune
It was an evening of honor and celebration for veterans at the Pratt BPOE Elks Lodge on November 16 in Pratt.
Harold Voss, 84, (left) was the oldest Air Force veteran in attendance last Tuesday at the Pratt BPOE Elks Lodge honor celebration in Pratt.
Navy veteran Ross Hoyt received a Certificate of Appreciation for his years of military service to the United States of America at the Pratt Elks Lodge #1451 BPOE last week.
Pratt Elks Lodge Exalted Ruler Eric McManaman welcomes 2021 Miss Kansas Taylor Clark to the Pratt Elks Lodge BPOE #1451 on Tuesday where she was a special guest speaker during a veterans' recognition service.
Pratt-area veterans honored as being the oldest representatives of their branches of service present at the Elks Lodge ceremony last Tuesday included:
Army veteran Wayne Parsons, was honored for his military service at the Pratt Elks Lodge on Tuesday in Pratt.

Medallions for Vietnam veterans, commemorative coins for the oldest military branch representatives present, songs of God and country and heartfelt words from speakers brought honor and recognition to a large contingent of Pratt-area veterans on November 16 at the Pratt Elks Lodge.

"We were so blessed to have such a great turnout for our awesome veterans," said event organizer Janie Bishop.

"The evening was spectacular! Honor and respect filled the B.P.O.E. #1451 Pratt Elks Lodge," Elks Lodge member Linda Stelzer.

A comfort meal of chicken-noodle served over mashed potatoes, plus corn and rolls was served to veterans and their guests, followed by a variety of cakes for dessert. Special music was provided by "Joyful Noise," singers from Pratt who performed patriotic and heartfelt songs like "Glory, Glory Hallelujah," and "I'm Proud to be an American."

Speakers for the evening included 2021 Miss Kansas Taylor Clark, who expressed her appreciation for veterans and the opportunity to connect music with the honor and recognition bestowed on each branch of the military as Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard and Marine songs were played.

Bill Turner, Director of the Kansas Commission on Veteran's Affairs spoke of his own family military background that lead to his decision to join the service, following the footsteps of his father who was in the Marine Corps and three older brothers who served in the Army, Air Force and Navy.

"This ceremony here tonight means a great deal to me," Turner said. "It is a great honor to pay tribute to these folks."

Pratt veterans recognized for their service during the Vietnam War were Houston Collier (Navy), C. Harley Dancaster (Navy - posthumously), Roger Davis (Army), Darryl Horst (Army), Kenny Gates (Army), David Hargreaves (Air Force), Kenneth Lewton (Army), Kent Montei (Army), Steve Parsons (Marine Corps), Ross Hoyt (Navy), Dennis Raney (Army - posthumously), John Renegar (Army), Merle Rose (Army), Steve Stelzer (Air Force), George Stevens (Army), Gordon Stull (Army) and Jack Veverka (Air Force).

Additional medals, certificates of honor, commemorative coins and recognition of years of service were provided for armed service members who were the oldest representatives of their military branch, honor flight recipients and absent veterans lost in 2021.

Numerous volunteers cooked, cleaned, decorated and served, making it a special evening of honor and recognition for all those in attendance.

Pratt Elks Lodge #1451 is a non-profit charitable organization that seeks to serve the community and provide an outlet for social and charitable support for members and veterans. Membership applications for approval are available at the Pratt Lodge, located at 1103 W. 5th Street in Pratt.

Pratt Elks Army veteran George Stevens (right) presents Dean Hoover, Navy veteran with a medallion of honor, recognizing his service to country and community at the Pratt Elks Lodge BPOE special veterans event last Tuesday.