MWF raises more than $32,000 at 4th annual gala
By BRITTANY FHOLER
The Mounted Warfare Foundation hosted the Homecoming for Heroes IV gala at the SC River Ranch in Oakalla Saturday evening, with several hundred in attendance.
For the second year, guests had the opportunity to take a peek at the Mounted Warrior Museum by way of virtual reality goggles offered by Huckabee, the architectural firm designing the museum. Once the goggles are on, guests are placed outside the museum doors and greeted by an M1 tank. Using a remote, with the press of a button, guests were transported inside and able to take a look around the building and inside what will be the gift shop.
Bob Crouch, vice president of the MWF, said that the VR tour was refined this year and lets the user really feel like they’re walking into an occupiable building and gives a feel for how big the museum will be.
“The neat thing about it is it really gives you a feel for what the space is going to be like,” Crouch said.
Phase I of the museum, which is projected to open in 2020, costs around $37.7 million and was approximately 80 percent funded as of Saturday evening, with only $7.3 million left to raise, according to Ret. Lt. Gen. Paul Funk, president and chairman of the National Mounted Warfare Foundation.
The museum is expected to bring in millions of dollars into the community while at the same time, honoring the people of the community who have helped build Fort Hood to what it is, Funk said. He explained that this museum will become the only destination activity in this part of Central Texas once it is completed.
Funk gave credit for the idea of the museum to the late Gen. Robert Shoemaker, who passed away in June 2017.
The museum will be a 42,000 sq. ft. structure to include 24,000 sq. ft. of interactive and immersive permanent exhibit galleries and over 7,000 sq. ft. of temporary exhibit space, according to the NMWF website. It will also include children’s discovery areas, multipurpose conference / classrooms, simulation activities, administrative spaces, and a children’s playground outside the museum building. The museum will be located on a 17-acre plot of land, just outside the security perimeter.
The museum will touch on the history of mounted combat in the U.S. Army before moving towards the history of the area where Camp Hood was set up and then will go into the history of Fort Hood by decade from WWII up to the present, with emphasis on soldiers and units that served at Fort Hood, including those that no longer exist anymore like the 2nd Armored Division and the Tank Destroyers, according to Crouch.
“It’s a really comprehensive museum,” Crouch said. “Unfortunately, if the unit did not serve at Fort Hood, unless they were associated with a Fort Hood unit in some way, they probably won’t be part of the story line because we have a huge story to tell as it is.”
Guests could also take a look at a WWII Living History demonstration courtesy of the National Museum of the Pacific War, where weapons were displayed on a table and volunteers were available to answer any questions.
During Saturday’s gala, the silent auction portion of the night raised $32,152. Some of the more high-ticket items included a five-day, four-night stay in Cancun, Mexico with airfare included that sold for $600; a fish fry for 50 people donated by Randy Sutton that sold for $500; a 1st Cavalry Division limestone carving that sold for $525; two Southwest Airlines one-way tickets that sold for $280; a Night at the Opera in Austin that sold for $120; a one-of-a-kind Glass Blowing Experience for four people at Salado Glassworks that sold for $256; and a Heart of Texas Hill Country Guest House weekend getaway that sold for $540.
There were 11 items sold in the live auction, with Walt Roberts as the auctioneer and Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller assisting. Items up for auction included a Fender FA-115 Acoustic Guitar autographed by Wayne Newton; an autographed Tyler Seguin NHL Dallas Stars jersey; a Mission Archery Craze II with gold tip Nugent arrows; a Winchester Model 94 Ranger Rifle with case; a Hoyt Powermax Blackout Compound Bow; a FN FNS-9 semi-automatic pistol; an Indy Custom Guitars Limited Edition AR-15 signed by Ted Nugent, donated by Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller (one of 60 made) that sold for $1,100; a Bob Lilly autographed Dallas Cowboys Jersey; a Baylor University Football Experience, with two tickets to the Baylor vs ACU football game at McLane Stadium, complete with seats in the Teaff Family luxury suite with Grant Teaff and family; a handmade grill; and a Neal McCoy acoustic guitar.
Through a video, Lt. Gen. Paul Funk II, III Corps and Fort Hood commander and Command Sgt. Maj. Michael Crosby shared an update on what III Corps and Fort Hood are doing around the world.
Texas House of Representatives members Scott Cosper and J.D. Sheffield were present as were members of Harker Heights city council and Killeen mayor Jose Segarra and Baylor football coach Grant Teaff, who led the crowd in prayer before April Cox sang the National Anthem and “Don’t Stop Believing” by Journey.
Congressman Roger Williams was the keynote speaker and the winner of the Pierre de Wet award at Saturday’s gala. The award was created in memory of MWF member and supporter Pierre de Wet, of Tyler, Texas, who passed away in January 2016. Ret. Lt. Gen. Paul Funk and Sid Miller, with the help of Bob Crouch and Clarence Enochs, presented the award to Williams.
Williams said before the event that the idea of the museum is “long in coming.”
“We need more of this,” Williams said. “We need this because it teaches history and unfortunately, we’re getting away from teaching history. It’s the right thing at the right time. I’m glad to be a part of it and I’m thankful I’m an American and that we can honor people that have served this country.”
For more information about the MWF and museum efforts, go to www.nmwfoundation.org.