Our Hometown Hero Week 3: Gary McCloud
Gary was nominated by his wife, Bunny.
Gary McCloud spent three tours with boots on the ground in Vietnam as a Seabee. He has always been very patriotic and a veteran leader in our community. He served 18 years as the Wamego American Legion commander and started the local chapter of the American Legion Riders, continuing to serve veterans and active duty plus our community. He constantly shows appreciation to returning soldiers as he doesn’t want them to feel or be treated as the Vietnam veterans were upon their return.
Gary organized the local American Legion Honor Guard to provide final honors for veterans and continues to issue call outs today.
He has been involved in many community projects and would don the traditional red suit and whiten his beard at Christmas to be Santa for not only Wamego’s children for over 40 years, he also went to the VA Hospital in Topeka in costume.
When the Legion members got together to address the need for a veteran’s memorial, he took the lead, created three designs and presented them to the Legion. Once they chose the wagon wheel design, he created a model to take to the City of Wamego for their approval and location. Then he started fundraising, he hit the streets and phones 50 to 60 hours a week. Once enough funds were raised for the bronze statue, he contacted artists and presented his image for a WWII soldier to be placed looking at the wall listing the names of the area fallen. Gary continued fund raising and upon raising a half million dollars locally, he oversaw the ground breaking, using entrenching tools from each era listed on the fallen wall. Then he oversaw the complete construction of the Wamego Area Veterans Memorial including ordering of the Absolute Black Granite walls (same quarry where the Washington DC Vietnam memorial granite came from). Veterans could and can purchase bricks acknowledging their service, which were placed along the sides of each walk as Gary felt no one should walk on the veterans names.
For his undertaking of the Wamego Area Veterans Memorial and his many community activities, Gary was awarded one of the highest civilian honors by Ft Riley’s Commanding General, The Department of the Army Commander’s Award for Public Service.
Gary receives tickets to K-State football, plus a free oil change from Kia of Manhattan, a $50 gift card to RC McGraws, and a Hometown Heroes T-Shirt! John is also qualified to win the grand prize from Robert’s Heating and Cooling: a full Furnace and AC replacement!
We will announce the winner of the Furnace/AC replacement on Veteran’s Day!
Nominate a veteran you believe needs the recognition here!