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International Operating Engineer - Summer 2016

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The quarterly magazine of the International Union of Operating Engineers.

Feature THE ECHO OF 9/11

Feature THE ECHO OF 9/11 still is heard here, resonating against the hilly pine forests and rippling across the serene lakes of north-central Oneida County. Since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, increasing numbers of physically and emotionally scarred Wisconsin veterans have signed up for a week of healing at the 300-acre Camp American Legion. Many of these survivors fought in the Wisconsin National Guard or in Army Reserve units. They served multiple tours of duty. They witnessed friend, foe and noncombatants maimed and killed. As it has served since 1925, the facility is a place offered free for weary servicemen and servicewomen to rest and decompress. It’s a place to swim, fish, play yard games and card games, to work at crafts, to try to rebuild the soul and to begin to reconnect with spouses and children who are welcome to stay with them in 21 lakeshore cabins. Peace Mission Apprentice Operators, most veterans themselves, are tasked with clearing handicapped-accessible forest trail at American Legion rehabilitation camp Turning off Highway D, southwest of the main camp, the Operating Engineers have built a handicapped-accessible trail through 228 acres, owned by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and leased by the American Legion. The path follows an old logging trail, roughly 12 feet wide. It winds for about a mile through the American Legion State Forest adjacent to McGrath Lake. The paving surface is milled asphalt, reclaimed this spring from the rebuilding of nearby Highway 51. Mathy Construction Co., Onalaska, supplied the milled asphalt. James Peterson Sons Inc., Medford, donated trucking services to haul the material from Highway 51 east to the trail site. Case Construction Equipment, through its Miller- Bradford & Risberg Inc. dealership in Sussex, furnished two dozers, two excavators, a compact track loader, a wheel loader, a compaction roller, an asphalt paver, and a motor grader. David Kurtz, American Legion state adjutant, describes the trail as a symbolic path for veterans to follow in a manner similar to that walked by the man for whom it is named – Local 139 member and Medal of Honor recipient Gary Wetzel. “This is the trail ahead for younger veterans, following Gary,” Kurtz said. [right] Local 139 Apprentice Chase Freimark, a Marine Corps veteran, runs a wheel loader to pile sand while creating a parking lot on one end of the forest trail. [article & photos] Dave Backmann, IUOE Local 139 12 INTERNATIONAL OPERATING ENGINEER SUMMER 2016 13

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