5/29/2017 10:00:00 AM
The Anoka American Legion Post 102 will host its annual Memorial Day observance ceremony on Monday, May 29, at 10 a.m. As in the past, it will be held at Forest Hills Cemetery in Anoka.
The observance will feature guest speaker Maj. Shannon Gregory of the Minnesota National Guard, a graduate of Anoka High School.
It will also include music from the North Suburban Concert Band, student recitations and memorials to Veterans.
After graduation in 1992, Gregory enlisted in the United States Marines.
In 1998 Gregory joined the Minnesota Army National Guard and was appointed as a warrant officer in 2000 and earned his aviator wings in 2001 in the UH-60 Black Hawk.
Gregory has been recognized as a top recruiter and commander. During Operation Enduring Freedom he commanded a Black Hawk flight company in Kuwait.
Gregory now serves as a supervisory instructor pilot at the Army aviation support facility in St. Paul and is the company commander for C Company 2-211 in St. Cloud.
A special rededication will also be held at the Anoka American Legion Post 102 on Memorial Day.
After the Forest Hills observance, the public is invited back to the post, where members will rededicate the anchor outside Post 102.
Twenty-five years ago the anchor was dedicated to Clarence “Whiskey” Visneski and that will be remembered in a special ceremony May 29 between 12:30-1 p.m.
That anchor has a storied history.
Visneski was a member of the post for 23 years and a past commander.
He was known for his many contributions to the post. Before he died, Visneski left a note asking to be remembered with a plaque on the kitchen door, where he spent a lot of time working.
Fellow Navy Veteran Al Springer wanted to do more than that and jokingly said an anchor would be more appropriate. That led to a lengthy quest to secure an anchor, which would be an uphill battle that included many contacts with the U.S. Navy, Congress and more.
The anchor committee, made up of Springer as chairman, Art Bendiske, Don Hostetler, Gil Dullinger, Pat Visneski, Andy Revering and Duke Grosslein, started work in late 1989.
Finally, Springer secured an anchor at Puget Sound Naval Base in Seattle, Washington. But before the local committee could pick it up, the base was closed and the anchor was relocated to Williamsburg, Virginia.
In March 1992, Tom Sauter successful moved the 3,000 pound anchor and 3,000 pound chain to the Anoka Post 102, free of charge.
The anchor was dedicated on a rainy Memorial Day in 1992.
The dedication plaque reads: “In grateful recognition of extraordinary contribution and dedicated service to Anoka American Legion Post 102.”
Visneski served aboard the USS Guadalupe from May 16, 1951, to Nov. 2, 1954.
The anchor is representative of the type of anchor used on a ship of the USS Guadalupe’s class.
The anchor is being sandblasted and repainted this week in advance of the rededication, which will also feature the post’s 31 hand-sewn replica flags it has in its collection.
The flags are typically only used on the Legion’s Halloween parade float. Made by Doug Kasson, the flags will be flown Memorial Day, weather permitting.
For Veterans like Springer and 1st Vice Commander Doug Hookom, it is important to keep local Veterans’ stories alive.
The rededication will remember Visneski and the efforts of the committee and serves as a reminder of the role Veterans play in the freedoms we enjoy today.
“You don’t have all those rights just because the country is good enough to give them to you,” said Cliff Newman, a past commander of Post 102.
Memorial Day Events