Veterans Group celebrates Armed Forces Day with a banquet

·4 min read

Brothers-Sisters of Our Military Adventures held its Armed Forces Day banquet on Saturday to honor those who serve in the military with 245 guests in attendance at the Shop Event Venue in southeast Amarillo.

VFW 1475 Commander Mikel McGuire talks Saturday about the significance of the Missing Man Table during the Armed Forces Day Banquet.
VFW 1475 Commander Mikel McGuire talks Saturday about the significance of the Missing Man Table during the Armed Forces Day Banquet.

According to its website, BOOM Is a nonprofit organization created to give back to veterans, active-duty military members and first responders, providing them with outdoor bonding experiences and opportunities to confront mental and physical hardships.

BOOM board member and Marine veteran Blake Siebrecht spoke about the purpose of the banquet and what his organization does to help current and former military personnel.

Blake Siebrecht of BOOM receives a token of tanks from World War II Veteran and oldest survivor of the U.S.S. Indianapolis Saturday at the Armed Forces Day banquet.
Blake Siebrecht of BOOM receives a token of tanks from World War II Veteran and oldest survivor of the U.S.S. Indianapolis Saturday at the Armed Forces Day banquet.

“Tonight’s event was to honor all active-duty military and to show our respect to those currently serving,” Siebrecht said. “We have a lot of veterans here that miss the camaraderie and being able to share a meal together helps build relationships. We all want to focus on helping others and coming together.”

Siebrecht said that many of the group's sponsors and other organizations supporting veterans came to the banquet and worked together to help make the event happen. Among the veteran organizations on-hand were the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Volleys for Veterans, and the Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association, among others.

All 40 Gold Star families within the Texas Panhandle were sent invitations to join the banquet to honor their families' sacrifice.

“People do not realize that a loss like that has such a domino effect, so I was glad that we could reach out and invite these families,” Siebrecht said.

Blake Siebrecht  Of BOOM speaks about the purpose of the Armed Forces Day Banquet Saturday at the Shop Venue in SE Amarillo.
Blake Siebrecht Of BOOM speaks about the purpose of the Armed Forces Day Banquet Saturday at the Shop Venue in SE Amarillo.

Retired Marine Col. Chris Hastings, vice president of Safari Club International, was the guest speaker for the event. Hastings had five combat deployments during his distinguished military career.

“The importance of BOOM and other organizations like them is what they do for veterans and their families and communities alike,” Hastings said. “Every single one of these organizations is helpful in ensuring that we never again treat our veterans the way we did our Vietnam veterans an era ago.”

On hand for the event were multiple GOLD Star families, veterans, first responders and their families. The oldest living survivor of the U.S.S Indianapolis attack in World War II, Cleatus Lebow, was also on hand to enjoy the evening with his fellow vets. Lebow came to the stage later in the evening to present Siebrecht and his organization a token of appreciation for its work in having his grand send-off Monday to the U.S.S. Indianapolis reunion in Fredericksburg.

Retired Marine Colonel Chris Hastings  spoke about the importance of veteran organizations Saturday at the Armed Forces Day banquet.
Retired Marine Colonel Chris Hastings spoke about the importance of veteran organizations Saturday at the Armed Forces Day banquet.

BOOM was asked by Lee Persefield, the Veterans Land Board on-site representative of the Ussery-Roan Texas State Veterans Home, if they could give support from the entities it works with to give a motorcycle escort for Lebow. Due to the departure happening during the workweek, Siebrecht and BOOM reached out to first responder agencies to provide an escort along with Xcel Energy to set up flags and banners to honor Lebow. The organization was even able to get the local sheriff’s department in Fredericksburg to meet Lebow and escort him to his hotel.

Melissa Kalka and , Lee Persefield  escort U.S.S. Indianapolis survivor  Cleatus Lebow to center stage by Blanke Siebrecht at the Armed Forces Day Banquet.
Melissa Kalka and , Lee Persefield escort U.S.S. Indianapolis survivor Cleatus Lebow to center stage by Blanke Siebrecht at the Armed Forces Day Banquet.

Siebrecht said that his organization is just trying to build a relationship with the community with its events supporting veterans with its various fundraising events. In June, upcoming events for the organization are a Poker Run on June 11, children's Fishing Camp on June 18 and A Mudd Volleyball Tournament at the Amarillo Elks Lodge on June 25.

In August, the organization has a shotgun shootout at the Cactus Gun Club. An event Siebrecht really wanted to stress community involvement in was its Patriot Day Celebration scheduled for Sept. 10 to revisit the patriotism and camaraderie that Americans experienced as a reaction to the events of 9/11.

He said that many of the veteran organizations work together to support each other and that veterans are very giving when it comes to helping others. He said there are plenty of people who want to help veterans in the area. His organization is not in competition and people are willing to donate if it is a worthy cause and going to a good organization.

BOOM offers many of the cost-free excursions including hunting, fishing and other outdoor activities. These experiences are designed to create connections for those who need it.

The Armed Forces banquet conducted by BOOM had 245 people in attendance to honor those that serve Saturday at the Shop Event Venue in Southeast Amarillo
The Armed Forces banquet conducted by BOOM had 245 people in attendance to honor those that serve Saturday at the Shop Event Venue in Southeast Amarillo

“Our organization is 100% volunteer and all the guys that work for us do it because they love to help others,” Siebrecht added. “Nobody is getting paid, and it all goes toward paying for the land that we go hunting and fishing on. Amarillo has the best support for our heroes."

For more information or to support BOOM go to https://www.boomadventures.org

This article originally appeared on Amarillo Globe-News: Armed Forces Day banquet honors those who serve