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National Mounted Warfare Foundation Holds 7th Annual Homecoming For Heroes Gala, Raises $110,000

Cove Leader-Press 

The National Mounted Warfare Foundation held its seventh annual Homecoming for Heroes Gala at the SC River Ranch in Oakalla Saturday. 
With approximately 300 people in attendance, the annual fundraiser featured a Yellowstone themed evening of dining and entertainment. A plethora of silent auction items were available for bidding, and there was a total of four live auction items, including a three-night stay at a townhome in Big Sky Montana, as well as a five-night stay of the same kind. 
The big-ticket item of the night was a private bourbon bottling experience with Garrison Brothers Bourbon. Garrison Brothers Bourbon is the first and oldest legal whiskey distillery in the state of Texas and is based in Hye, Texas. The winning bidder and 20 guests will be treated to lunch at the distillery, and then their barrel followed by the bottling, which would include dipping the glass bottles in wax before applying custom labels. 
“Why do we do this? On the back of our bottle, it says, ‘Good bourbon can change the world,’” said to Robert Cordes, with Garrison Brothers Bourbon. “We use the power of our bourbon to help raise money for organizations like this, so please help us raise money for the National Mounted Warriors Museum.” 
This auction item sold for a winning bid of $8,500. 
With the silent and live auctions, ticket sales and other donations, this year’s Homecoming for Heroes Gala brought in approximately $110,000, according to Bob Crouch, vice president of the National Mounted Warfare Foundation. 
Last year’s Gala, which was held in the newly built National Mounted Warrior Museum, raised around $65,000. 
Due to the equipment being moved into the museum, there was no room for a gala, which led to it moving back to the SC River Ranch, courtesy of Ted Smith, who is on the NMWF board. 
“We’ve got the combat equipment inside [the museum],” Crouch said. “The exhibits are being built right now off-site. The exhibit company is I believe out of Atlanta, and they’re building them, and they will start the second week in July in installing them inside the museum. They’re supposed to be done by the end of September, and there’s going to be a grand opening on November 8, 2023.” 
The National Mounted Warrior Museum will feature exhibits detailing Fort Hood (now renamed to Fort Cavazos) and its history of evolving from a temporary camp to one of the largest military posts. The exhibit components will focus on the stories of the major units associated with Fort Hood such as III Corps, 1st Cavalry Division, 3rd Cavalry Regiment, the 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), the 2nd Armored Division, and the 761st Tank Battalion, according to the NMWF website. It will place emphasis on the different conflicts such as World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Cold War, Operation Desert Storm and the Global War on Terror. 

Crouch said that the support from the community regarding this museum and the Foundation is great. 

“The support in this community really is building, and we’ve had some folks who’ve been big supporters of ours since we started in 2011, and we get more and more every year,” Crouch said. “And I know as soon as the museum opens- a lot of people have  been waiting to see the museum built and they’re happy to see that, and now others can’t wait until it gets open. The community has embraced the Foundation, and we’re very grateful for that. It’s nice to see old faces and new faces come out to this because it’s turned out to be a pretty fun event.” 

During the Gala, the National Mounted Warfare Foundation also gave recognition to members of the community who have been so supportive. Receiving this year’s Pierre de Wet award was former Killeen Mayor Timothy Hancock, who served three terms from 2006 to 2012. 
The Pierre de Wet award was created in memory of NMWF member and supporter Pierre de Wet, of Tyler, Texas, who passed away in January 2016.
The NMWF also presented a posthumous award to Joe Lombardi, who passed away in March of this year. In addition to being known as the Voice of the Copperas Cove Bulldawgs, he also served as the master of ceremonies for many organizations’ events, including the Homecoming For Heroes Galas. 
“Some of you may know that in 1991, Joe took it upon himself when he was working for radio station KOOV to broadcast live from Victory Corner on West Fort Hood as the community welcomed home 124 flights and troops returning from Operation Desert Storm,” Crouch said. “Most importantly, Joe was a friend to all, always willing to share a kind word and a cup of coffee.” 
Sherry Hoffpauir accepted on behalf of her late husband. Hoffpauir also received her own award and a painting of the Yellow Rose of Texas.  
“We want to present this to Sherry, not on behalf of Joe, but for her, and to thank her for supporting Joe all those years, but also everything she’s done for our organization and others across Central Texas,” Crouch said. 

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