National Mounted Warfare Foundation hosts 4th Homecoming for Heroes
OAKALLA — The National Mounted Warfare Foundation hosted its fourth annual Homecoming for Heroes event to benefit the National Mounted Warrior Museum project on Saturday at the SC River Ranch in Oakalla.
“(The museum) is going to honor the soldiers, their families, local civilians and the veterans and everyone who has had a role in the buildup of Fort Hood,” said retired Lt. Gen. Paul E. Funk, the president and CEO of the Mounted Warfare Foundation.
Funk said the museum would serve as a destination activity for Central Texas.
“Nobody comes here for any other reason,” Funk said. “They come to Fort Hood and they come to see their kids, but we expect this to be a destination activity.”
The museum comes at a cost of about $36 million and Funk said about 80 percent of the funding has been collected.
“Last year, we got a great boost from the Center for Military History which runs all the military’s museums,” Funk said.
Funk said the fundraiser was the idea of former Copperas Cove High School head coach Jack Welch. The fundraiser is one of several ways the foundation is raising funds for the museum.
“Our primary funding comes from individual donations. We get some funding from grants. We get some funding from corporations, and every donation counts,” said Bob Crouch, vice president of the National Mounted Warfare Foundation.
Crouch said every donation regardless of amount contributes to the project.
“We’re sitting at about $7.3 million left to raise,” Crouch said.
U.S. Rep. Roger Williams, R-Austin, was the guest speaker for the event.
“The idea is long and coming and we can honor those that have served,” said Williams. “We need more of this because it teaches history. Unfortunately we’re getting away from teaching history.”
Williams said he attended the fundraiser last year and was glad to be a part of it again.
“It’s the right thing at the right time and I’m thankful I’m an American and that we can honor people that have served this country like this,” Williams said.
Lt. Gen. Paul Funk II, III Corps and Fort Hood commander, and Command Sgt. Maj. Michael Crosby, III Corps and Fort Hood command sergeant major, addressed the gathering via a video recording from their deployment to the Middle East and applauded the group’s efforts to establish the museum.
Other special guests included Texas Commissioner of Agriculture Sid Miller, former Baylor coach Grant Teaff, University of Arkansas head coach Chad Morris, former Rice University head coach David Bailiff, Killeen Mayor Jose Segarra and many others.
“I think it’s great because it brings all the communities together. You’ve got people from Copperas Cove, Lampasas; people from all over the state. This is a good event,” Segarra said. “It’s not just a museum; it’s also educational so you’ll get schools that want to bring their kids. I think it’s going to be great.”
Items auctioned included a custom guitar and compound hunting bow signed by Ted Nugent; a five-day Cancun, Mexico, vacation; a Winchester Model 94 Ranger rifle; a Mossberg 500 shotgun; a Dallas Cowboys jersey and football autographed by former player Bob Lilly; and more.
The museum is expected to open in late 2020, It will be a 42,000-square-foot structure that will include 24,000 square feet of interactive permanent exhibits and more than 7,000 square feet of space for temporary exhibits.