June 29, 2016

Mostly clear

Honoring the fallen and helping a wounded warrior

The Wounded Warrior memorial, which commemorates veterans who have been injured in battle, graces the front of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 5137 in Medina. (ANDREW DAVIS / GAZETTE)

Marine 2nd Lt. Nick Vogt was considered clinically dead.

A roadside bomb in Afghanistan had pulverized his left leg and mutilated his right. There was no question he was going to lose both.

But his life was saved thanks to 300 troops in the area who donated 400 units of blood — a record amount in U.S. military history.

Vogt, from Crestline, near Mansfield, now is a double amputee who has undergone more than 50 surgeries.

Earlier this month, more than 1,200 people showed up to Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 5137 in Medina to participate in a poker run and swap meet to raise money for service members who have been severely injured.

The event raised more than $18,000 and more donations are expected, with most of the money going to Vogt to help pay for his surgeries.

Bob Bader, a two-year member of the Medina VFW, organized the fundraiser.

Bader said the inspiration for the fundraiser came as he was walking through the VFW hall in North Olmsted one night three years ago. He noticed a veteran doing the moonwalk. When Bader rounded the table he saw the veteran was dancing on his two prosthetic “blades.”

“These veterans just really touched me,” he said. “I mean, the war is over but their limbs are never coming back.”

As part of the fundraiser, the VFW post also dedicated a monument to warriors who have been injured in battle.

The monument, sculpted by Cleveland’s Milano Monuments out of black granite from Africa, depicts a soldier shouldering a wounded comrade.

The “wounded warrior” statue is the first monument in Ohio dedicated solely to veterans who have been injured in battle.

“The mission is to make sure no one forgets, and having it right on Pearl Road where everyone can see it accomplishes that,” said Bader, who spearheaded the drive to pay for the monument.

Bader personally went around asking for donations. About 30 individuals and organizations came up with the $30,000.

The money raised at the VFW poker run and swap meet is expected to be given to Vogt this summer, after he finishes mentoring participants at this year’s Buckeye Boys State at Bowling Green State University, VFW Post 5137 Commander Jack Forster said.

Vogt was member of Buckeye Boys State in 2006.

“He’s an outstanding young man and all he wanted to accomplish was to go to West Point, which he did,” said Ralph Waite, who picked Vogt for Boys State in 2006.

“He has vowed since he was injured that he was going to go back to Boys State.”

Donations to the Wounded Warrior Fund can be made by calling the Medina VFW at (330) 725-0884.

Contact reporter Andrew Davis at (330) 721-4012 or areanews@medina-gazette.com .