GRAND ISLAND, Neb., – Months of hard work will soon be rewarded as Ducks Unlimited dedicates the Fallen Heroes Marsh on Saturday, September 12. The sacrifices made by U.S. military veterans from Nebraska will be memorialized by a natural area that will attract thousands of ducks each year as they migrate from wintering to breeding grounds. The ceremony will begin at 11:00 am and families and friends of killed and wounded military veterans are welcome to attend.
“The inspiration to memorialize the legacy of our fallen heroes and their individual contributions to our country through wetlands conservation will serve generations of Nebraskans just as the sacrifices that our heroes made will continue for generations. It seems extremely fitting to honor their sacrifice this way,” said Kyle Hildebrand, DU volunteer and Iraq War veteran.
Colonel Kevin Neumann, personnel officer for the Nebraska National Guard will speak at the dedication. Col. Neumann has recently returned from service in Afghanistan and is an avid duck hunter who is actively working to recognize the sacrifices of fallen military veterans and their families.
The Fallen Heroes Marsh honors the services of the killed and wounded veterans from Nebraska who served in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The inspiration for this memorial was a U.S. Army soldier from Nebraska named Adam Herold who served and was killed in Iraq. Adam was an avid waterfowl hunter and ardent DU supporter along with other members of his family. Adam’s family felt strongly that conserving waterfowl habitat in Nebraska would be the perfect way to honor his sacrifice for his country.
“The Herold family along with many supporters and volunteers have made this dream a reality,” said Steve Wilson, regional director for DU. “This memorial will not only be committed to Adam, but also honor the Military veterans across the entire state. We are honored that Adam’s family came to us with this request.”
The marsh is located on DU’s Verona Complex, a key wetland area in the Rainwater Basin. The marsh will be a place where friends and families can come to hunt, watch, photograph or simply listen to ducks and remember loved ones who dedicated their lives to the United States.
The volunteers on the Fallen Heroes Marsh committee have raised nearly $400,000 for this effort. These funds will be directed toward waterfowl habitat restoration on the Verona Complex and throughout the state. DU will also use contributions to this effort toward its revolving land program in Nebraska.
The Rainwater Basin of Nebraska serves as a bottleneck for migrating waterfowl in the Central Flyway. “Ducks funnel through this area during spring migration and it is essential for them to have places like the Fallen Heroes Marsh to rest and refuel,” said Steve Donovan, DU manager of conservation programs in Nebraska. “The support generated for the Fallen Heroes Marsh will help us accomplish our conservation and management goals on Verona and at additional sites in the Rainwater Basin.”
Directions: The Verona complex is 45 minutes southeast of Grand Island in Clay County. The ceremony will take place at the Youth Hunting tract on the property. From I-80, take exit 332 (near Aurora, Nebraska) and travel south on Highway 14 for seventeen miles. Turn left at Highway 6 and travel east one mile. Turn right on road R and travel south two miles. Turn right at Road 315; proceed to parking lot on north side of road.
With more than a million supporters, Ducks Unlimited is the world’s largest and most effective wetland and waterfowl conservation organization and has conserved more than 12 million acres. The United States alone has lost more than half of its original wetlands – nature’s most productive ecosystem – and continues to lose more than 80,000 wetland acres important to waterfowl each year.