MWF goes virtual with Homecoming For Heroes III gala
By LYNETTE SOWELL
On Saturday night at SC River Ranch in Oakalla, those who attended the Homecoming For Heroes III gala had the chance to step into the Mounted Warrior Museum and take a look around—even though the museum hasn’t yet been built
Huckabee, the architectural firm which designed the museum, offered a virtual, 3-D view of the museum’s entry while the fundraising on Saturday night brought the museum closer still to becoming a reality.
Danielle Smith is the design coordinator for the project, and said although while wearing the virtual reality goggles, individuals stay within a certain space, they can toggle to different areas of the building to see it.
“Once you’re inside, you feel like you’re in the space,” said Jose Galindo, also with Huckabee.
Former Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst served as the keynote speaker for the evening,
“This effort to create a new museum touches my heart,” Dewhurst said. “It’s the reason why I’m here. I’ve seen what a museum will do. It’s not old and dusty; it’s a living reminder to whoever walks in, that freedom isn’t free.”
Dewhurst spoke from his own experience after learning more about his father, David Dewhurst Jr., who flew 85 bombing missions in World War II along with a key mission on D-Day, something Dewhurst didn’t learn about until 2007 when visiting Normandy. Dewhurst talked about his efforts to bolster the expansion of a museum near Utah Beach, in France.
Lt. Gen. Paul Funk II, III Corps and Fort Hood commander, also said a few words on Saturday evening.
“My name is Paul Funk II, and I am a Phantom Warrior,” Funk said by way of introduction, at which the crowd applauded and cheered. He gave the guests a quick rundown on what III Corps and Fort Hood is up to around the world.
“Your Army is busy, but it will not let you down,” Funk said. His father, Ret. Lt. Gen. Paul Funk, chairman of the Mounted Warfare Foundation, was also present, as was Ret. Lt. Gen. Pete Taylor.
Fort Hood has donated 68 acres for the museum, with a tentative ground breaking date of spring 2018. The projected cost for phase I is around $37.7 million. Prior to Saturday night, approximately 70 percent of the phase I capital goal has been raised via fundraisers and donations.
Congressman Roger Williams talked about the significance of the museum.
“I can’t think of a better place to have the museum, than at the Great Place,” Williams said, noting the hard work that Funk and the foundation have put into making the museum a reality. “It’s exciting to see. This is a great time to get the momentum going for the museum.”
During his comments to the gala guests, Williams noted he’d just filed a bill last week that would end the sequestration for the military, another remark which brought some cheers from the crowd.
Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller, Texas House of Representatives members Charles “Doc” Anderson and Scott Cosper were present, along with the mayors of Killeen and Harker Heights, and several Harker Heights city council members, and one member of the Killeen city council.
A variety of items were up for a live auction on Saturday evening, including NFL and college autographed football helmets, a guitar signed by Ted Nugent, framed movie art signed by actors like Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher, as well as other items donated by local businesses and individuals.
The Pierre de Wet Award was presented to Sid Miller at Saturday’s gala. The award was created in memory of MWF member and ardent supporter Pierre de Wet, of Tyler, Texas, who passed away in January 2016.
In addition to politicians and military, others in attendance included two-time Super Bowl winner and former Dallas Cowboy Billy Davis, along with coaches from Rice University and Southern Methodist University.
Once constructed, the National Mounted Warfare Museum will be a multi-sensory, multi-media experiential museum honoring the US Army’s mounted warriors and Fort Hood and will be an educational destination for students, along with millions of veterans and their families who passed through Fort Hood. For more information about the MWF, go to www.nmwfoundation.org.