Red Bull Memorial dedicated

A new monument honoring the contributions of members of the 34th Infantry Red Bull Division of the Iowa Army National Guard was dedicated Friday morning in Webster City. The Hamilton County Board of Supervisors, American Legion Post 191 and officials with the Red Bull Division took part in a ceremony at the memorial, located just west of the Hamilton County Courthouse.

In 2010, the Hamilton County constructed a new street on the south side of the courthouse and the Board of Supervisors gave it the U. S. Army 34th “Red Bull” Infantry Division’s unit name – Red Bull Division Drive – in honor of the many Iowa Army National Guardsmen from Hamilton County who have served and continue to serve in the Division since it was formed near the end of World War I.

“Nearly from the time that we decided on the name for the street, the Board of Supervisors began considering the construction of a monument that would honor and remember not just the Red Bulls of Company E, but all veterans, going back to the beginnings of the county,” said Board of Supervisors Chairman Wes Sweedler. “It has taken nearly four years of discussions and many different designs and ideas, but we believe that the final product is something that the citizens and veterans of Hamilton County can take pride in.”

Sweedler’s father, Kenneth Sweedler, was a member of Red Bull Co. E Infantry Division during the Korean War area. Supervisor David Young’s uncle, Charles Wilson, was also a member of the Red Bull Division.

Present for the dedication was Art Philbrook, a Webster City veteran and a member of the division.

“Art is the last Red Bull standing of Iowa Army National Guard Co. E. The company was federalized in January 1941 and marched down Second Street in Webster City to the train depot on Feb. 26, 1941,” Bailey said.

“Nine boys didn’t come back at all. Art returned only after spending several months in a prisoner of war camp with eight others,” according to Bailey.

The central focus of the monument is a brushed stainless steel sculpture over 13-feet tall that features the Red Bull insignia. The sculpture was created by local artist Tim Adams of Stony Creek Landscapes in Webster City. On either side of the sculpture will be four graphic panels that will tell the history of the Red Bull Division and local Company “E,” plus the involvement of county residents in the major conflicts of the country, beginning with the Spirit Lake Rescue Mission in 1857 by local Militia Company “C.” The panels are still in the process of being created, to be installed later in the summer.

Supervisor Doug Bailey thanked historian Nancy Kayser and American Legion Post 191 Public Information officer Leo Lanctot for help compiling the history of the division. He said Kayser and Lanctot’s research would be used to complete the permanent historic panels at the memorial that will chronicle the history of the Red Bull Division.

“We wanted a monument with a military edge to it, with a look that could capture the imagination and interest of a younger generation and, perhaps, to learn more about the incredible history of this county,” Bailey said. “We want them to develop a greater understanding of the sacrifices that have been made on their behalf.”

Col. Damian Donahoe, Commander, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 34th Red Bull Infantry Division of the Iowa Army National Guard was the guest speaker for the ceremony.

“This monument is a tribute to the veterans not only of the 34th Infantry Division but for all service members who we remember this Memorial Day weekend,” Donahoe said. “It is important for our current Iowa National Guard soldiers to have a linkage back to the heritage of the 34th Infantry Division.”

The colonel explained more about the history of the division.

“They served in the European campaign and were among the first wave to cross the Atlantic for service in World War II,” he said. “The 34th Infantry Division landed in North Africa in November 1942, serving over 500 days of combat duty – the most of any combat division in World War II.”

The Rev. Mike Willer of Fort Dodge, Chaplain, 734th Regional Support Group of the Iowa Army National Guard and a former “Red Bull” offered the closing prayer. Willer, pastor at Trinity United Methodist Church in Fort Dodge, joined the Iowa Army National Guard while he was pastor of Faith United Methodist Church in Webster City. Willer served a deployment with the 34th Infantry Division in Afghanistan.

Willer also participated in the ground breaking for Red Bull Division Drive in 2009 and took part in the dedication of that street in 2010.

The 2nd Iowa Light Artillery, a Civil War Re-enactment group from the Sac City area, closed the ceremony by firing a salute using a vintage cannon.