By Kelsie Hoitomt
GLENWOOD CITY—A press release was given on June 10, 2013 by the American Veterans (AMVETS) that stated that Phase one of the 128th Infantry Memorial Highway in St. Croix County has been completed.
To make Phase one final, the Department of Transportation will be placing the Memorial marker in Glenwood City sometime in early July.
It was also stated that there is a second phase, which is a larger memorial that will be planned at a later date.
Phase two will include a large flag pole, light and the names of 128th infantry soldiers killed in combat in Iraq as well as WWI and WWII.
On June 21, 2013, Governor Scott Walker signed Senate Bill 96, which designated State Highway 128 as the 128th Infantry Memorial Highway.
The bill was signed in front of regiment members at the AMVETS Commander’s Banquet in Appleton, Wisconsin.
According to an article by Captain Brian Faltinson of the Wisconsin National Guard, it was Mike Hanke’s goal when he started the project to have this bill signed.
Hanke is a retired sergeant first class from Chippewa Falls. He enlisted in the Wisconsin Army National Guard’s 32nd Brigade in 1983 and served four years before transferring to active duty from 1987-1990.
Ten years later Hanke rejoined the Wisconsin Army National Guard. During that time he deployed twice to Iraq with the 1st Battalion, 128th Infantry.
Hanke joined AMVETS Red Arrow Post 32 in Chippewa Falls after his first deployment and has served terms as the post finance officer, vice commander and commander.
He has also been elected twice as District 8 (Green Bay and Appleton) commander and was appointed by AMVETS as its liaison to the Wisconsin National Guard.
It was during his time as liaison that Hanke got the idea of designating the highway. He first contacted his state legislators about potential designation and those individuals in turn put Hanke in touch with the legislators who have Highway 128 in their district.
For two years Hanke was active in getting this memorial project finished. He said that he traveled to Madison to testify before two legislative committees.
Hanke said that he explained the history of the regiment and where its units were located in relation to the 38 mile long state highway.
Two years of hard work and pure dedication has since helped put Senate Bill 96 in front of Governor Walker and into motion.
The Memorial marker will read something like “128th Infantry Memorial Highway, STH 128, commencing at STH 72 in Pierce County and proceeding northerly to STH 64 in St. Croix County, as the ‘128th Infantry Memorial Highway’ to honor the members of the 128th Battalion of the 32nd Infantry Brigade for bravery, sacrifice, and devotion in their service in Iraq as well as World War I and II. Dedicated by authority of Wisconsin Statue 84.10315.”