Kimball Presents A Heartfelt Thank You To Its Veterans
November 16, 2023
The Neely American Legion Post was established in August 1919.
The Kimball Jr./Sr. High School Civics class under the direction of Jeri Ferguson organized the program on Friday. Seniors Shannen Acheson, Julia Winstrom and Hayden Sours served as masters of ceremony. After the presentation of colors, Kimball students Renee Murdoch, Carlee Murdoch, Amber Childers and Aubrey Culek sang the Star-Spangled Banner, while Carly Norberg signed the national anthem.
After words from county Commissioner Rich Flores, the 4th, 5th and 6th graders sang an inspiring rendition of the Armed Forces Salute.
Local celebrity singer Tom O'Brien awed the audience with his singing of America the Beautiful.
Retired Air Force colonel and Northrop Grumman Sentinel spokesman Matthew Dillow was the keynote speaker.
Concluding the events, Jasmine Gawith played Taps, and a video of pictures and names of local veterans was played.
Dillow shared the origin of Armistice Day, later known as Veterans Day, and then told the story of the three Neely boys – Charles, Chester and Harlan. Like many young men of the day, their family had a history of military service.
All three young Neely men either enlisted or were drafted, but the oldest, Charles, served in France, and just 50 minutes before the armistice went into effect, he was fatally wounded and was buried in France. Post 22 in Kimball is named after him.
The details of his death were sent in a letter to younger brother Harlan Neely from a buddy. According to the Western Nebraska Observer on March 27, 1919, "On the morning of November 11th, we were marching along the road going up to take over the front lines again. We sat down to rest beside a big sawmill just back of Pouilly, France, and while resting there, a boche 77 shell landed right in the midst of our company, killing three men outright, one of whom was the first lieutenant commanding the company that day, as the captain was commanding his battalion, and wounding 25 others, one of whom was Charles. At first, we thought he had been killed instantly as he did not move, being badly wounded in the head, back and side. Soon he showed signs of life; though he never regained consciousness and was immediately rushed to a hospital in a waiting ambulance. A few days later, we received official notice from the hospital that he had died, together with three other men who were wounded at the same time. This shell hit at 10:10 a.m. Just 50 minutes before the armistice went into effect."
Matthew Dillow served in the Air Force for 27 years. He was a missile launch officer and vice commander of the 90th Missile Wing, Francis E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyoming.
Dillow is in charge of community engagement efforts for the Sentinel ICBM deployment project in western Nebraska, northeastern Colorado, North Dakota, Montana and Wyoming.