Veterans Honor Wall returns for 5th year

DANSVILLE — The idea came from within the hospital to honor those who have served our country.

The Fifth Annual Noyes Veterans Honor Wall has increased to 270 veterans this year. Every veteran on the wall is related to someone who works at the Dansville or Geneseo Noyes Health hospitals. Many of them also work at the hospitals.

For the first time this year the Dansville Central Student Lighthouse Team came to honor the veterans on the walls. Superintendent Paul Alioto said they were invited to come down to the opening ceremony this year.

“We weren’t familiar with the wall. I heard it being talked about by Brenda (Hoag) at the Dansville Fish and Game Club. She said it would be a great opportunity for the kids to be exposed to the honor wall. We bring the young students down here, and they can go back and tell others in the school about what they learned,” he said.

Brenda Hoag began this wall five years ago to honor all of the local veterans within the Noyes Health community.

“This is very important to me. You are standing here amongst 270 American heroes. I think that is amazing,” she said. “This project is a labor of love. The honor wall is one of the highlights of the year for Noyes. I want to thank those who work here that have served.”

UR Medicine/Noyes Health CEO Amy Pollard talked about the importance of Armistice Day, or as we call it Veterans Day.

“We are here today to honor veterans. Just a little history, especially for the younger people. Veterans Day years ago was called Armistice Day. Veterans Day is for honoring military veterans who have served in the United States Forces. It is celebrated to mark the end of World War I. That ended when the Armistice was signed on the 11th hour of the 11th day on the 11th month in 1918. In 1954 after many veterans urged for this to happen it was renamed Veterans Day,” she said.

Pollard thanked all the veterans past and present who served locally for their country.

“America was born out of oppression from other countries. People came here for liberties. It is all of our responsibilities to fight for our rights and freedom. At the end of the day when things get tough it is the military that becomes the tip of the sword,” she said. 

Lou Colella, Vietnam Veteran, said that he has a lot of respect for Kenzie Curtin. She is a West Point Cadet who has done amazing things so far.

“She is a sophomore at the academy. She has no quit in her. She injured herself badly at boot camp. She had to do a march back with an injured ankle 10 miles with full gear. She did the whole thing without a wince. I was on the march with her, and I saw her drag another girl who couldn’t get up the hill. She has a great future in the military,” he said.

Peter Hoag, Brenda’s husband, said that she lives and breathes the honor wall every year.

“Brenda is doing a fundraiser this year to bring wreaths to the Bath National Cemetery. She and her sister went to Arlington National Cemetery and saw all the wreaths placed on the veterans stones. She wants to do that here. It’s a project called Wreaths Across America that does this every year,” he said.

The project needs some help so anyone interested in helping with the Bath National Cemetery can reach out to Brenda about the fundraiser. They will place the wreaths on the gravestones on Dec. 14. Brenda said there are two parts to the fundraiser, and one involves getting at least 500 wreaths, and the other a painting from a veteran.

Karen LaMonica, Brenda’s neighbor and helper, said it is an honor to be part of the ceremony.

“It is an honor to help out with the wall every year. It is a labor of love for us. I have a dad and uncle on this wall,” she said. “Brenda is the most patriotic person I ever met. She really puts her heart and soul into this. My dad is 91 and he loves getting his selfie taken by his photo every year. He was in the Korean War and my uncle was in World War II.”

UR Medicine/Noyes Health honored two special veterans on the wall; Donald Adams, Army Ranger, World War II, and Ludwig Wegemann, Army, Korean War.

Brenda Hoag and Dawn Kennedy, Wegemann’s daughter, shared his story of courage at the ceremony. Hoag shared the story of kindness shown and honor from Adams.

“We are going to talk about Dawn’s dad. He is an incredible dude. Ludwig was born in NYC to German immigrant parents. The war broke out, so dad took them back home to fight for the homeland. Along with his brothers, Ludwig ended up in Hitler’s Youth Camps doing different things. From there he was captured by the Americans and brought back home. He did odd jobs here until he was able to be in our military,” Hoag said.

“In his military service my father earned six Bronze Service Stars, three in the Korean War, and three in Vietnam War, He got a National Defense Service Metal. He also got the Bronze Star in the Vietnam War. He got the United Nations Metal,” Kennedy said.

“One thing was they asked Ludwig to drive and he had never done that before. He had some high rank passengers who after he didn’t drive very well told him to go to driving school. I asked Dawn how they ended up in this area. When her dad retired, they wanted to pick a place they didn’t have to move anymore, and her grandma married a local farmer in Cohocton,” Hoag said.

Donald Adams was one of the first Army Rangers ever in this area.

“In World War II is when we had rangers. They had a secret mission," he said. "The Japanese were not being very nice to our POWs, so they had a plan to get them out. The rangers had to convince the POWs to come with them, and you will see Donald Adams with one of them. He is with the one who chose to stay behind two years, and make sure everyone got the burial they deserved.”

The Noyes Veterans Honor Wall will be up in the Dansville and Geneseo lobbies for all to see.