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MILWAUKEE – The War Memorial Center is entering the public phase of a $500,000 campaign to build a world-class exhibit to honor the 64 Wisconsin residents who received the highest and most prestigious military decoration in the United States – the Congressional Medal of Honor.

For 65 years, the War Memorial Center’s mission has been to “Honor the Dead by Serving the Living.” Thanks to community support, the War Memorial Center still serves an important role in the community, providing a place where heroes are honored, history is taught and warriors are healed. Now, the organization is introducing a new chapter for the facility: Operation Advance.

Operation Advance marks a move toward permanent installations at the War Memorial Center beginning with the Wisconsin Medal of Honor exhibit, which is to be opened in fall 2022. Other initiatives under Operation Advance include future plans to honor Wisconsin heroes, such as the POW/MIA Exhibit (Prisoner of War/Missing in Action), and the WMC Situation Room – a leadership lab where students and adult learners are challenged to explore the characteristics of military exemplars throughout history.

“As one of the Medal of Honor recipients from Wisconsin, I have always said that I am just a caretaker of this medal,” said Gary G. Wetzel, Vietnam Veteran and Medal of Honor recipient. “I wear it for everybody, especially the guys who never came home from distant wars. I was presented the Medal of Honor in 1968 from President Lyndon B. Johnson for service in Vietnam. For more than 50 years, I’ve been sharing the stories of the heroes who wear these Medals. Their stories deserve a permanent home in the War Memorial Center.”

“It’s impossible to overstate how revered our Medal of Honor recipients are in the veteran community and the nation,” said Dan Buttery, Iraq War Veteran and President/CEO of the War Memorial Center. “This medal is only awarded to those who ‘distinguish themselves conspicuously by gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of their life above and beyond the call of duty.’ The recognition is so exclusive that Medal of Honor recipients are invited to every presidential inauguration. It is beyond time for the Wisconsin recipients of this great achievement to be recognized in a permanent and engaging display so future generations never forget their bravery.”

To date, the Operation Advance Phase One campaign has raised more than 80 percent of its goal. The public phase of the campaign seeks support from the greater community to preserve the stories of Wisconsin’s heroes and to help teach a new generation about their sacrifices made to protect the freedoms we cherish. Serving as co-chairs of the Operation Advance Campaign are Candee Arndt, George Gaspar and Michael Grebe.

For more information about donating to the Operation Advance Campaign, visit A virtual tour of the Gallery of Honor exhibit can be viewed here.

For more information about the War Memorial Center, visit or contact Dan Buttery at or (414) 273-5533.

War Memorial Center

About the War Memorial Center

The War Memorial Center’s mission is to honor the dead – serve the living. We fulfill this mission by honoring the dead through the memorials and exhibits located throughout the campus. We serve the living through our community wide events, educational programs, and services for veterans and their families.

Our vision is the War Memorial Center is an experiential space unlike any other where our heroes are honored, history is taught, warriors are healed, events are celebrated, and memories are made.

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