The Twin Towns Area is invited to an event honoring three of its fallen heroes.
A battle cross monument will be dedicated at 10 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 19. The monument is being placed at the Richland County Courthouse, 418 Second Ave. N. in Wahpeton.
Three soldiers who died in the War on Terror are being honored with the monument. They are U.S. Army Specialist Keenan Cooper, 1990-2010; Army Staff Sgt. David C. Kuehl, 1980-2007; and Army Specialist Christopher Kleinwachter, 1976-2006.
“The families of those soldiers will be there to help with the unveiling,” Richland County Emergency Manager Brett Lambrecht said. “We’re really looking for the community support, to show that these brave heroes have not been forgotten.”
The monument is a donation from the North Dakota Heroes Foundation and the North Dakota Patriot Guard. The dedication ceremony, expected to last 30 minutes total, will be held rain or shine.
“Our Wahpeton Military Unit will be attending, presenting the colors and playing ‘Taps.’ We’re planning to block off that portion of Second Avenue and hold an event similar to the 9/11 memorial ceremony,” Lambrecht said.
Efforts are being made for distinguished guests including the U.S. Marine Corps and members of North Dakota’s congressional delegations. The monument event is also expected to include the Wahpeton Fire Department, the Army National Guard and leaders including Wahpeton Mayor Steve Dale and Richland County Commissioner Dan Thompson.
Richland County, North Dakota, and the city of Wahpeton willingly accepted the monument.
“We felt this is such a great way to remember them and jumped at the chance to bring the community together,” Lambrecht said. “We are thankful for these three men and all who served and gave us our freedom,” Lambrecht said.
Specialist Cooper was active in FFA and as an honor student at Wahpeton High School. Cooper was killed in combat while serving his country in Yakuta, Afghanistan, survived by his family and fiancée.
“He will be remembered for his integrity, upright character and incredible sense of responsibility,” the Coopers stated.
Staff Sgt. Kuehl immediately entered the U.S. Army upon graduating Wahpeton High School. During his second tour of duty in Iraq, Kuehl was killed when a roadside bomb detonated near his unit in Taji, Iraq.
Kuehl was survived by his wife, two children and his family.
Specialist Kleinwachter, a graduate of Grand Forks Central High School, enlisted in the North Dakota Army National Guard while still a high school senior.
“He completed basic training and advanced individual training in 1995 and served as a power generator equipment repairer,” according to his family’s remembrances.
Kleinwachter was killed in action in eastern Afghanistan when the vehicle he was riding in during convoy operations was involved in a rollover.
The Vet’s Club, 219 Dakota Ave. in Wahpeton, will serve a meal following the monument event. The club is located near the Richland County Courthouse, whose grounds include monuments honoring local veterans since before Wahpeton’s establishment in 1869.