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Dec. 7 event to highlight veterans sacrifices

On Wednesday, Dec. 7, the Hastings VFW will host a special World War II (Pearl Harbor) and Vietnam commemoration event at the Pleasant Hill Library in Hastings. The event begins at 6:30 p.m.

The theme for the event is "Remembering their Sacrifices." It will include definitive images from 9/11 at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., a flag honor guard, and will also mark the 87th anniversary of the Lyle Russell VFW Post 1210. One of the speakers, local resident Tim Figge, will speak about a particular veteran in his life who made the ultimate sacrifice.

According to The National 9/11 Pentagon Memorial, Max J. Beilke was drafted into the Army in 1952 and served two years in the Korean War. Beilke was Figge's football coach and one of the military staff at St. Thomas Academy in the 1960s, continuing to serve his country by teaching the cadets there, mostly 15- and 16-year-olds, Figge said.

In 1972, he was sent to Vietnam and served there for almost one year. He was listed as the last American combat soldier to leave Saigon, and his departure was recorded on live TV.

After retiring from active duty, Beilke earned his bachelor's and master's degrees and worked for the National Association for Uniformed Services before becoming Deputy Chief of the Retirement Services Division of the Department of the Army, where he provided support to veterans and military families. He was at the Pentagon, meeting with two lieutenants, when the 9/11 attack hit the Pentagon. He was one of the first to be declared missing following the attack.