Laona golf course hosts 130 veterans for annual golf scrambleSubmitted: 09/26/2016

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LAONA - Whipping winds and off-and-on rain couldn't keep 91-year-old Bud Kuhrasch off the golf course Monday.

"Rain or shine, we'd be here," Kuhrasch said with a smile.

Then again, the weather doesn't really bother Kuhrasch. The U.S. Navy veteran helped invade Omaha Beach at Normandy on D-Day in 1944.  On Monday, he joined two other World War II vets and more than 100 other veterans at Nicolet Country Club's annual outing.

"It's an honor for me to be here with these guys," Kuhrasch said of fellow servicemen Dan Buschatz and Bernie Miller.

Honor was the name of the game all day Monday in Laona. Organizer Chuck Enders started the event when he couldn't get into a Green Bay veterans' scramble.

"So we said, 'What the heck, why don't we do it ourselves?'" Enders said.

Five years later, turnout in Laona has nearly doubled to 130, with veterans from Korea, Vietnam, and beyond signing up.

"Just an appreciation, let the vets get together and spend some time with their old comrades," Enders said.

Hosting an outing for veterans, of course, requires a flagpole. But the country club didn't have one when the tournament first got started in 2012. Organizers raised money and bought a flagpole and plaque, which reads, "In honor of those who served our country."  

The group put the flagpole outside the first tee box. Monday, the Wabeno High School band played the national anthem and other patriotic songs before veterans teed off.

"Unlike some sports figures who choose to take a knee during the raising of the flag, playing of the national anthem, our veterans here would not even consider doing something like that," said Eagle River American Legion Post 114 Commander Mike Vinovich.

That sentiment led 130 veterans to stand tall together, no matter their age.

"[Seeing men like Bud Kurasch play] is incredible," Vinovich said. "I hope when I get to be that age I'm still around playing."

Playing a game that no longer frustrates Kurasch, but instead gives him another reason to throw his scorecard to the wind.

"[Winning] isn't important," Kurasch said. "It's just getting together and being with all of these veterans again."

Enders says donations from the Laona and Armstrong Creek VFW posts, the Wabeno American Legion Post, and the Wabeno Lions Club helped cut the cost nearly in half for veterans.

Story By: Lane Kimble

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